Horton Creek Trail is a 6.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Payson, Arizona that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and fishing and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Directions from Payson: Travel east on Hwy. 260 to Forest Road 289. The trail starts in the Upper Tonto Creek Campground.
awesome trail !
Awesome trail. Snow on the ground. Moderate rating is spot on. If anything I'd say it's on the easy side of moderate. Mostly steady incline the whole way up. Gets slightly steep towards the end. Make sure you find the spring where the creek starts.
Breathtaking and therapeutic!
A nice MTB trail with some challenging technical and a fun downhill back to the start. Not a trail for beginners for sure but the spring is rather rewarding once finished.
Listening to the creek as you hike was really nice.
Very nice trail with wonderful views of the creek and decent climbs.
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.
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.
This trail was awesome! I went with my husband and two mini Australian shepherds on October 8. Neither myself or my husband like crowds, and while we had to park about a quarter mile from the trail, we only ran into a few people. The trail was wide enough that it allowed us to pass people with no difficulty. This trail, depending on your activity level is easy to moderate. My dogs, because they're little, cannot hike for long distances, but we got an invigorating 2 hour hike out of our trip and I know we still had much to explore. There is a bathroom available in the parking lot, but I suggest brining toilet paper and sanitary wipes with you.
Best on weekdays & fall to spring seasons to avoid crowds. Great place for kids of all ages & dogs to play!
The actual trail is across the street from the parking lot, which appears to have caused some confusion with the small walking trails near the creek that begin at the parking lot. These trails are very short and overgrown, and yes, you can walk in the creek. The actual hiking trail is beautiful, well-maintained, and there is no mandatory feet-wetting. It is well worth the full 4-mile walk to the spring. A map at the parking lot and/or mile markers would be helpful, but I was very happy with this hike!
First, don't be fooled by the rating of Easy. It's a beautiful trail. Like two recent reviewers mentioned; at some points the paths are overgrown, and the distance is incorrect. I paced it at 10 miles round trip. Thanks to Christofer Marohn for confirming I was not crazy...
Last, it shows a constant increasing slope to the end. I disagree. the last 1.5 miles is 20% inclines. Most of the people who come here don't finish the trail. They walk the first mile and turn back. If you are going to complete the whole thing, it not for the little ones. I would rate this as Moderate.