The Crest Trail is actually a system of trails, spurs and side loops that sits like an inverted "Y" on the central ridge of the Chiricahuas. The northernmost segment of the Crest Trail is the only portion which does not lie within the Chiricahua Wilderness.
Outstanding vistas are just one of the attractive features you will find along this portion of the Chiricahua's longest trail. The route wanders through wildflower-carpeted meadows and dense stands of pine and fir as it winds along the backbone ridge of the Chiricahuas. The course it follows extends between a trailhead on Forest Road 357 just west of the junction with Forest Road 42D, and the northern boundary of the Chiricahua Wilderness near Flys Peak. Most people, however, access the trail from the main trailhead located on the west side of the loop road at the end of Rustler Campground.
Barefoot Lookout on the summit of Buena Vista Peak provides marvelous views at the end of a short but steep climb from the trail's northern end. If you come from the Rustler Park Trailhead, it is a little over 1.5 miles to views which include the dramatic profile of Cochise Head, the sheer bluffs of Barefoot Peak, Cave Creek Canyon and Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoons.
Heading south from the Rustler Park Campground, the trail leads through forests draped with Spanish moss and carpeted with bracken fern. At Bootlegger Saddle, 1.4 miles from the campground, there are more good views and a number of connecting trails. From here it is about a mile to the northern boundary of the Chiricahua Wilderness. Centella Point, Chiricahua Peak, and Flys Peak, are within easy distance along connecting trails. Even Monte Vista Peak, with its marvelous vistas, is a long but manageable day trip along the Crest.
Directions: From Tucson, Take I-10 east 81 miles to State Route 186. Turn south and continue for 23 miles to State Route 181. Turn east towards Chiricahua National Monument and drive 4 miles to Forest Road #42. Continue up Pinery Canyon 12 miles to FR 42D. Drive about 2.5 miles to the Rustler Park Campground. The trailhead is on the west side near site #6.
Elevation: 8,100 feet
Ending Elevation: 9,100 feet
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
Distance: 4 miles
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