AZ – Cave Creek Canyon, Herb Martyr and Snowshed Loop

I don’t like the trail naming system in this area. They have lots of interconnecting trails but you have to research and look up each one to connect. For example if you want to hike Chiricahua Peak and only look up the trail by that name, it would appear to be less than .5 miles in length. For this hike, I started at the Herb Martyr Campground on the Basin Trail aka Herb Martyr Trail which is 3 miles to Snowshed Trail. There are three Snowshed Trails. Snowshed Basin Trail is 2 miles, Snowshed Trail is 8.5 miles and Snowshed Peak Trail is less than a mile. So confusing!

There were three wet feet creek crossings over the three miles required to reach Pine Park. I didn’t take any photos so it must not have been very impressive. My goal was Snowshed Pass.

Pine Park was about 7,800 feet. I like how you can clearly see snow line along these peaks.

Trail conditions were more of a B-C. As you can see in this photo, the tread was quite sloped. There were also a few down trees and overgrowth.

I believe the flat ridge in the distance is Snowshed Pass and my destination. You can see the trail traverses across the front ridge snowfield. The down trees are from the 2011 Horseshoe 2 fire.

I think this might have been a big cat walking the trail ahead of me.

There was plenty of bunny activity.

This section proved to be too much for me. I lost the trail in stickery prickery overgrowth and burned deadfall. If there wasn’t snow and I was a little more motivated I would have fought my way through. It doesn’t look like much but believe me I was all scratched up. There was very little open space to maneuver through the thickets.

So sadly with the pass in the distance I turned around.

Never know what you might find. This is an old telephone line insulator.

Wonder what this sign said?

Rather than retrace my footsteps I took the Snowshed Basin trail on my way back. It was not in nearly as good of shape as the Basin Trail. It was a nice mix of open forest, bushes and grasses.

Sometimes the trail was faint and messy.

I liked the places where the view opened up featuring the colorful rocks.

Such beauty in the colorful rocks.

In some places having maps are helpful.

I found an unexpected trail that runs parallel to Road 42. Just like the other trails I hiked during my time at Cave Creek Canyon, I didn’t see anyone except at the campground.

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 20, 2020

Hike Details:Tips:

  • At the Visitor Center ask for trail guides and the dispersed camping handout.
  • The nearest gas is in Animas, New Mexico
  • The nearest laundry is near Rodeo, New Mexico. I used Rusty’s RV Park and it was clean, inexpensive with the bonus of a place to hang out with WiFi.
  • The nearest shower I found was at The Chiricahua Desert Museum between Portal, Arizona and Rodeo, New Mexico.
  • There are small grocery stores and cafes in both Portal and nearby at Sky Islands.
  • The library and Visitor Center leave on their WiFi during business hours, both accessible from outside.
  • Potable water, garbage and restrooms are available at the nearby campgrounds.
  • Best digital trail maps I found are the Gaia layer on the Gaia app. The others I tried haven’t been updated since the 2011 fire.
  • The time on your phone will flip back and forth between New Mexico and Arizona time, making it very confusing.



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