Bull Spring Trail is a 16.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Payson, AZ that features a river and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from October until April.
Bull Spring Trail #34 is part of the Mazatal Wilderness Trail system and forms part of the Arizona Trail. This trail is accessible from the Doll Baby Trailhead and requires you to hike FR406 to get to the trail (No vehicles allowed). Warning: This hike is very strenuous and requires a lot of time and water. The hike starts from the Doll Baby Trailhead and requires a 3.7 mile hike along FR406 before you get to the actual trail start point. Once on the trail, the first 1.5 miles is moderately level, then the 2 mile ascend begins to the top of the mountain. Once at the summit, views are great. It is difficult to find where Bull springs trail splits from the Arizona trail, but look for the Cairn to help find the trail. The trail then goes into more desolate landscape, with a few interesting waypoints along the way to Bull Spring.
This hike was difficult and slow due to the elevation gain on the trail. Hiking the road prior to getting to the beginning of the trail is tedious (mainly up hill going in, but downhill on the return). Once on the trail, the scenery is interesting, and after getting to the summit the views of the wilderness are amazing. The trail was often difficult to follow, and we never made it to Bull Spring due to running out of time and water.
We took 5 liters of water, which was just enough for the distance we travelled. Not much shade, and came across rattlesnakes and Bee Hives on the trail.
The wildflowers were amazing throughout the trail.
This trail is very isolated and you are unlikely to see anyone else. In addition to your map, a GPS is recommended.