In Search of the Fabled Cave Creek Falls, Chiricahua Mountains

In preparing the post on waterfalls of the Chiricahua mountains
it became apparent that a number of waterfalls lie on a north south transect through the Chiricahua mountains.  These include 2 waterfalls in Turkey creek, 2 waterfalls (Shelia falls) in a side canyon of Turkey Creek, North Fork falls (upper and lower), and Winn falls. This brought up an interesting possibility, what about additional waterfalls in other canyons that bisect the waterfall transect?  Exploring Google Earth for possibilities one canyon seemed to be mist shrouded.  Curious I began asking around and no one seemed to know of any other waterfall but single member of the hiking club, he said it was "Cave Creek Falls".  Some what astonished that little was known about the location it prompted a trip.  Starting at Herb Martyr dam and proceeding upstream seemed the easiest way to access this waterfall and several members of the hiking club met up for a reconnaissance trip to try and find the falls.  We were met with flowing water in the upper reaches of Cave Creek (above Herb Marytr dam) and began to follow the water.  The stream bed above the dam is lined with horsetails (Equisetum) and as the 4 hikers and 2 dogs followed the stream bed we encountered a trail.  Thinking there should be a trail to the waterfall we followed it.  Much to our chagrin it was a segment of the Basin trail (segment #247) that leads from Herb Martyr campground to the Snowshed trail that we picked up from the stream.  The trail slowly angled up and away from our intended destination, but after some bushwhacking back in the direction of our goal the falls was spotted in the distance.  Clearly the route to this waterfall stays in the stream bed following the water.  Enlargements of the blurry image indicate that the falls is currently flowing but will be more spectacular during the monsoons or winter rainy season, so a return trip is planned for photographs when more water is flowing.  The total distance walked was 3 miles with 500' of elevation gain.

Horsetails along upper Cave Creek

chiricahua mountains waterfall
The Fabled Cave Creek Falls?

day hike
Mountain hikers
Map of the walk upstream from Herb Martyr dam


  1. golly that WAS Snowshed Trail? I just sent Jonathan and Howard a wee note that it was an unknown trail to me. I had better go confess my ingnorance of all things Chiricahua!

  2. I sure enjoyed this little stroll! Seeing the water and being in some shade was great. Lots of trails in the Chiricahua Mountains!

  3. I wouldn't worry about it. We found the location and I'm ready for a return trip. The 2 dams as well as the abundance of horsetails should have been a dead giveaway that the area receives lots of water. I suspect a spring above the falls is the source. In any event I had a good time and look forward to retuning and making it to the falls.