Barnhardt Trail is a 10.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Payson, AZ that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.
Gorgeous in winter months with icicles and water flow but canyons are also more shaded.
I am intoxicated by my time spent in the southwest recently. To discover this trail and run upon its climbing, jagged ridgeline, the experience was mightily refreshing and rewarding (both physically and aesthetically). Running it in the evening with the sun setting, the manzanita wilderness offers purple hues on its angular rocks, and an open sky that beds the juniper/cacti/manzanita/ponderosa covered mountains that endlessly extend into Arizona countryland. Many places to stop and take breathtaking views.
The trail has been on my list for years and finally, we made it to the trail head @ 4:30pm last Sunday. Managed to pick up an empty water bottle on the trail and a Superman hat - both in great condition... Wonder if the previous gal lost it. Anyways. There was water on the trail within the first .6 miles a little stream that we cleaned up and made into a nice little washing pool. Down below on the majority of the trail you could see many moderate and large pools that if willing to hike down and bushwack to, could find yourself a Shangri-la. We ran into some black bears. A mama and her cubs. The Cubs made an interesting sound like water glugging out of a jug. Anyways, they were carting away from us and had a comfy 50 feet of thick canopy and rocky water creek to make any encounter unlikely. Still, it raised our heart rates. 3.6 miles into the very rocky trail you encounter Big Kahuna. You are lured to your left by the sounds of a natural shower. Scurry around some boulders and there you will come face to face w the infamous fall Big Kahuna. The fall I'm sure rages in spring and is a frozen spectacle in the winter. This time of year however, the fall was nothing stronger than a shower but was fun to climb and half way up it is a separate pool and it's very beautiful up there. The waterfall is fed by the run off from a large meadow of pine trees rooted on century's of storm debri and soil. Go further up the trail to get a spectacular look at the very tree medow that feeds the fall with is percolated spring run off. At this point the view behind you looks like Flatiron from the Superstions, but you are about 2200 ft in elevation higher resting around 6800 ft (this being about .5 miles up trail past the water fall) By this time the sun was setting. I grabbed some twilight photos w unbridled aperture, and then we bombed down the trail in our full suspension mountain bikes and got back to the truck in the wide open parking lot by 8:15 w a hint of ambiance left in the Western skies. Very pretty hike - even in the middle of the summer. Water, forest, fauna. Great getaway. Only 90 mins from Phoenix!!!
Barnhardt is the best hike I've done on the 87. The variance in terrain is astounding (at least when I went). There were areas covered in low shrubs, flat plains, cliffs, burnt areas and creeks and even pseudo-pine regions if you go back far enough. Apparently there is an actual flowing creek you can get to, but I did not manage to find it (was summer, not sure if seasonal).
I did the Barnhardt trail + an extra few miles to the north, doing part of the loop then turning back.
This is a moderate to difficult hike. I don't recommend doing the ~24 miles that I did in a single day. If you do, double the amount of water you would normally bring if it's summer and the creeks are dry. Also, bring sun protection.
The initial Barnhardt trail is good enough. You don't really need to meander through the northern mountains like I did. You won't miss much.
Great hike! Be sure to go prepared with water and maybe snack. Nice climb up, a little rocky, great scenery!
long but beautiful! first few miles can be tough with incline but legs didn't feel it on the way back.
Is it possible to run this trail?
Barnhardt is great! You still get cell service, but you're still out there. I really enjoyed the hike with my dog (: It's really steep in some places, but I brought a lot of water just in case. The only problem I had were the bees... They really seemed to like my dogs pack as well as mine and followed us.
Wow what a must hike location I'm speechless
Hiked this trail in the spring. Great hike up to the waterfall (right at 3 miles from the trailhead). Lots of elevation, but switchbacks all the way. Once at the waterfall, you have to hike up through the rocks to really see the waterfall. I had lunch at the waterfall then I hiked on past the waterfall out to near the end of the trail. Not really much to see after the waterfall. Still all in all a great hike.
I really liked this trail. We want at a perfect time of year. It had snowed a few days before. So the trail was covered in it, and in that part melt. Sadly we didn't get to finish the trial, but that was due to our crew and not any type of trail conditions.
I do believe though the map on this website is incorrect. I tried to use the app, and it took us totally different, all you have to do is stay on the highway to Payson, and you take a left, when you see the road signage.
I did this in the month of February immediately following some snowfall. Only did about the first 3.5 miles up to Big Kahuna Falls. One of the other larger falls was frozen solid, and there were several inches of snow packed down on the trail. It was a very nice hike, just a bit tricky going back down trying not to slip and slide. I hope to go back again in another month when the water is flowing more.
It was a quite cool day. Snow and some ice on the trail. The sky was clear and crisp. A very enjoyable outing. Was not able to make the whole loop. The snow on the back side was to deep and covered the trail, so will have to go back to complete another day.
I did this hike back in 2010 as a two-day trip. The hike was wonderful, but finding dry place to set up the tent was difficult. I think we went significantly farther in on another trail once we reached the end of the Barnhardt Trail. It was early summer, so there were two waterfalls that provided beautiful resting spots. The chevron rock folds in the mountain are sure to catch your eye!