dogs on leash
off road driving
The Tonto National Forest, Arizona, embraces almost 3 million acres of rugged and spectacularly beautiful country, ranging from Saguaro cactus-studded desert to pine-forested mountains beneath the Mogollon Rim. This variety in vegetation and range in altitude (from 1,300 to 7,900 feet) offers outstanding recreational opportunities throughout the year, whether it's lake beaches or cool pine forest. As the fifth largest forest in the United States, the Tonto National Forest is one of the most-visited “urban” forests in the U.S. (approximately 5.8 million visitors annually). Its boundaries are Phoenix to the south, the Mogollon Rim to the north and the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian reservations to the east.
The hike was an easy 10 miles, only 1000 or so feet elevation gain so even inexperienced hikers could make the trip! We decided to see both waterfalls in one day and this involved some bushwacking. We camped near the hot springs in child's and this was the perfect way to ease our muscles after a long day of hiking.
It's a great ride lots of connecting trails to challenge any skill level!
The downsides are
1. trail isn't maintained so you have to watch out for cacti
2. Beginning of trail is really rocky and narrow, makes it a hassle when its busy.
3. Lots of lose sand that's hard to ride through unless you have some speed going in.
Very cool hike. You traverse a variety of different landscapes. There are scenic sections on parts of Barnhardt and on the south western side of Y-Bar (the AZ trail part).
There's a bit of forest fire damage on the Y-Bar section of the loop. Took some tricky navigation to get over a few trees and identify the trail through some damaged brush areas but, otherwise, pretty safe to continue doing this trail.
BRING TOUGH PANTS! Or you will get shredded up. Trail is not very maintained on the Y-Bar side (though it was recently trimmed up to the AZ trail marker coming from the Barnhardt trailhead).
It was an OK hike, not very hard because it's mostly flat. The trail is fine but some trail signs were lost and so were we, but we quickly found our way back. Another less nice thing about the trail is that it just stops at a cliff unlike the signs made us think that we could have a break on the shoreline as was mentioned by the signs. (Shoreline 1/4mile)
all in all it was an OK trip and really nice if you don't hike a lot or just want to get started!
You need a Tonto National Park day pass 8$ BTW.
This trail is not at all clearly defined... it has no marked trail head. The first 2 miles is really a flood wash and is extremely overgrown in many places. Definitely not dog or horse friendly. I would recommend paying close attention to your landmarks, since there are many flood washes that run parallel. Won't be doing this hike again
trail was easy to follow. distance as described was close to accurate. I had it at 6.5 miles there and back. the profile is accurate with a constant slope all the way up. about 3/4 the way up there were some great views! the trail head allot of cobble or loose rock. going down was comfortable, but not on the ankles from the rocks. high top boots are a must.
ABOUT THE TRAIL
Easy there and back trail that does have an option to loop back on another trail. LOTS of young kids and families on the first part of the trail but it thins as you go farther back. We didn't do the whole trail due to time constraints. For our part - the trail is really well worn and marked. If you aren't finding this to be your case, you are probably on one of the MANY smaller trails littering the area. If you can see the creek 100% of the time and the trail is overgrown, you aren't on the official trail. However- we are a bit adventurous and decided to rock hop up the creek as time allowed and got a couple miles out of it. Gotta say if you're going with just adults or have older kids, that's the best way to see the creek.
ABOUT THE VIEW
The creek is what you want it to be - flowing over rocks, creating micro waterfalls with the classic creek noise. Pine trees tower above and you'll be entertained by the wild life. We saw a ton of grazing cattle chilling among the trees.
STUFF TO KNOW
You'll park in the parking lot across the dirt road from the beginning of the trailhead. Walk up a little hill and pass a camping ground on your right. The trail is well marked. Small restroom facility in parking lot. There are great places to fish so if that's your thing, you may want to consider it.
Justin M. on Water Wheel Falls
good hammock spots
Wonderful day hike. I would suggest that on the way up, as soon as you encounter the creek, you divert to the lesser-used creek side trails, or you'll miss some great little waterfalls and some beautiful fall foliage. Then if you stay on the main trail on the way back down, it essentially becomes a loop instead of a straight out and back.