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Name: Camp Rucker Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: Hike Difficulty: (Easy) though trail can be overgrown at times
Time: 1 - 2 hours (exploring the site) Region: SE Arizona
Length: About 1/4 mile Elevation gain/loss/change: +0 / -0 ft / +0 ft
Type: Loop Avg Elevation: 5600 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Low Educational Merit: Medium
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: Medium
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: April, 2009
Short Description: More of a destination to a cool camp with lots of history than a true hike
Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. Camp Rucker, Rucker Junction
References / Contact Information: Guide to Arizona Backroads & 4-wheel Drive Trails pages 518 - 521
Points of interest: Intact and semi-intact historical structures from the original fort as well as an intact ranch house from the 1930’s or 1940’s. Nearby Rucker Lake is interesting. Lots of primitive camping is available in Rucker Canyon and smaller side canyons
Special Considerations: The trail through Camp Rucker appears to be very seldom used and is overgrown with tall grass. Watch for snakes
How to get there: From Tucson, head east on I-10 until you reach the turnoff for highway 191. Follow highway 191 south. Continue on highway 191 south until you reach highway 181. Turn left (east) off of highway 191 onto highway 181. Drive east until you reach Kuykendall Cutoff Road. Turn right onto Kuykendall Cutoff Road. Drive south until you reach Rucker Canyon Road, then take a left, drive mostly east until you reach the unsigned dirt parking area for Camp Rucker on the left. All roads are graded dirt and should be passable for most passenger vehicles. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

Camp Rucker is located in a remote area of the Chiricahua Mountains in the far southeast corner of Arizona. The Chiricahua Mountains are probably best known for the impressive rock formations found in the Chiricahua National Monument, but there are countless other hiking trails such as the short trail to Camp Rucker. There are numerous well preserved historical structures to observe along the very short hike through Camp Rucker. From Tucson it is a very long drive on remote (but well maintained) back roads to Camp Rucker, so I recommend finding a place to camp and exploring the surrounding area a bit. When visiting Camp Rucker, consider a short detour to Rucker Lake - or rather the grassy meadow formerly known as Rucker Lake. Rucker Lake was filled by a landslide in 1994, when heavy rains followed soon after a forest fire. With no vegetation to hold the soil in place, the rain washed vast amounts of soil into the lake – completely filling it in. Check out some pictures of the lake before the landslide and you will get a true appreciation for nature’s fury.

Note: This adventure and the information within these pages was completed by a good friend of mine who started the Experience Arizona blog (the precursor to this website) with me. I have not visited this unique place yet, but hope to do so in the near future.

General Information and History

Camp Rucker is an old army post that was used during the military campaign against the Apaches. It was founded in April 1878 and was originally known as Camp Supply. It was renamed Camp Rucker in October 1878 after Lieutenant John Rucker, who drowned nearby in July 1878 while reportedly attempting to rescue one of his men from a flash flood. Rucker was in charge of a company of Indian scouts fighting against Victorio. One of his men, Lieutenant Henly, and his horse was swept away in a raging flood. Rucker attempted to save his Henly and both men drowned, despite courageous efforts by many of his other men.

The camp gained a post office is 1879 and had it named Powers. The camp was closed in 1880, but was used every so often by the military for the next few years until Geronimo surrendered in 1886. After the military left for good, a man named Mike Gray moved into the old adobe commissary building and used the area for cattle ranching. In 1970, the owner of the ranch, a Mrs. Ella Dana, donated the land to the U.S. Forest Service.

The army post has an interesting connection to the Earp brothers of Tombstone fame. In July 1880, 6 mules were stolen from Camp Rucker’s stables. The mules were believed to have been stolen by “Curly Bill” Brocius and were found by Virgil Earp and his deputies on the McLaury Ranch.

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The Trail

From the unmarked dirt parking area along the north side of the road, head through the fence and across a dry creek bed. After crossing the creek bed, you will see the old wooden barn, which appears to be recently restored. Upon reaching the barn, you will see a fork in the trail. You can go either way as the trail makes a loop. We headed right towards the ranch house. The ranch house is well-preserved and obviously newer than the other structures. I believe it was built in the 1930’s or 1940’s. After leaving the ranch house we visited the adobe Officer’s Quarters. There is some interesting artwork on the ceiling which was added by one of the later owner’s. Beyond the Officer’s Quarters you will pass the remains of the Commissary. Just a couple of walls and the foundations of the Commissary remain because one of the property’s owners dismantled it and used the adobe on the more modern ranch house. As you pass the Commissary, the Bakery comes into view. The Bakery is completely intact and you can still see the original oven (although it has been filled in). Across from the Bakery lie the remains of the Medical Supply Cabin. The roof of the Medical Supply Cabin is completely gone, but the walls remain. Originally, there was a Post Trader’s Store near the Medical Supply Cabin, but there is no evidence of it today other than the interpretive sign describing it. From here it is a very short walk back to the parking area.

Have fun and be safe!

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