Explore Payson - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Payson Map

Great trail with several places to stop along the way. Awesome beautiful lake views.

For someone who loves to be outdoors and enjoys new trails! Took my 10year old and 4mos baby on this hike in the evening. Took us about 1hour and 40mins. The trail was easy to follow, the Views are beautiful, and it was very nice in the canyon area. Definitely would come back again.

One of favorite hikes. Great place to sit and play at the bottom. Nice fall leave colors in October!

Worst trail ever!

Great hike to take the dogs on. Trail was deserted with great views

This trail is groomed nicely. Views are amazing. The beginning is alittle confusing. Great hike for all angles.

The first part of the trail is nothing to write home about, but definitely gets better as you near the top, interesting landscape and great views. We decided to do the whole loop but somewhere got off the trail and ended up on 545 instead of 504, crossed several washes but found our back to trailhead easily.
Definitely wouldn't recommend doing on hot day, and no matter when take water!!


The drive is spectacular winding around the mountainside. You need to be prepared for dirt roads that are sometimes single lane. Views couldn’t be better.

Short trail around bottom of copper canyon. Lightly trafficked. Avoid in heat of the day.

3 months ago

My husband and I went yesterday (aug 19th) and loved it! Even the drive in with the cattle is fun. I'd say it starts out easy for about a mile then gets to a moderate/hard level. We turned back after a really great look out point at a little over 2.5 miles because we only had half our water left. We'll definitely go back when we're more prepared! It was rocky and sandy, the views were great, the terrain change was really interesting and the switchbacks provided some much needed shade. (It was 95 degrees out even though it was only 80ish in Payson) We even saw a doe across the valley which was awesome. We only saw two other people in the three hours we were on the trail, which was actually pretty nice! I highly recommend this trail!

If you cross hardscrabble road there is a bunch of uphill hike ah bike

3 months ago

This trail is seriously steep and potentially hot but rewards immediately with great views. Much of the trail surface is rocky and lose, so care must be taken when going down the trail. Most of the trail has great 4G reception because of the direction the mountain faces.

4 months ago

So this hike I’ve been on several times growing up and definitely a hike to go on in the late winter or spring to see the waterfalls. Which in the past have seen up to three climaxing with the third in the canyon. I enjoy the difficulty especially because it keeps it relatively quiet of lazy hikers and people who leave trash behind. They seem to avoid harder trails which is great for the rest of us. Beautiful views and water keeps me coming back every year!

4 months ago

Easy to follow after the wash. Great views!

4 months ago

This is probably a nice hike in the spring, but in mid July it was hot, brown and dry. I enjoyed the 4-mile dirt road with cattle and huge jackrabbits. Approximately 1/3rd of the hike is rocky/gravely. I encountered 2 rattlesnakes on the trail. The “waterfall” at 2.5 miles still offered small pools of water (possibly from the monsoon storm the previous day) and barely a trickle down the rock formation, which is quite scenic. Follow the creek bed upward and off the trail, just around the corner, for some really scenic, shady respite. Back on the trail after this highlight is fairly flat and monotonous. I turned around at 3.9 miles because of the heat and unchanging, flat terrain. Elevation gain was 3670 ft. My hike started at 7:40 am after an easy 90 min drive from Phoenix and took 4 hrs 15 min including a couple short breaks. I drank 3 of the 4 liters I brought. Sunscreen is a must. Wish I had had some bug spray, too. Only saw 2 other hikers. The only thing “difficult” about the hike was the elements (heat, humidity, rattlesnakes). The incline and path is moderate at best. I was surprised that the temp was about 10 degrees hotter than that in Payson.

Nice hike. Just the right amount of elevation gain. No water at the waterfall or in the washes even though it’s been raining daily here and up north. Views were nice.

Amazing views throughout, but a bit of an anti-climatic view at the end unless you decide to continue on the Mazatzal trail. Saw 2 bobcats, a tarantula, and several hummingbirds. Also note: this trail is not 10.2 miles like it says. We clocked 13 miles round trip. So if you do this, plan for a longer trip. First 3.3 miles were most difficult, but then it levels out. I would rate the first half of the trip as hard but the second half after the waterfall as moderate. The waterfall was dried up when we got there. Gravely at some points where you want to be careful with your footing. We didn’t see anyone else on the trail. I recommend starting early in the day before it gets too hot.

trail running
5 months ago

This was a fun trail. A little daunting driving past the cattle (including bulls) and human-sized jackrabbits on the 4 mile dirt road on the way in, but fewer animals on the actual trail. We drove a sport sedan, so you don’t need an SUV. The beginning of the trail was a little rocky, but it cleared out and you could get a nice pace. The switchbacks have shade cover if you get an early enough start. We started 8 am. 2L water was sufficient for just over 11 miles. The backside was even nicer for running, but after 5.6 miles out I never saw the intersection with the AZ Trail. I assumed I would since this is marked as an Out and Back, but I may have misunderstood. No water on the waterfalls in Late June.

6 months ago

Decent trail that probably deserves 3.5 stars. Not as nice or scenic as Barnhardt, but a good workout and some decent views especially on the last third.
We got off track in the beginning when we didn’t go through a gate and ended up having to do a bit of bushwhacking.

6 months ago

Spectacular hike!
Started at 0630 with perfect weather on a day with high forecasts of 82F for Payson and 98F for Phoenix.
Fairly steep uphill for the first 3 miles, but the trail is quite good. Do not turn around at the waterfall at 3.3 miles as the next half mile or so is the most scenic of the whole hike. The rest of the hike is mostly flat and generally relaxing.
Amazing views, nice and green and plenty of flowers and wildlife even after a dry winter.
I clocked 12.7 miles for the round trip and it took me exactly 5 hours.
I will definitely be back!

We hiked down from Strawberry. The views are amazing!!

This was an amazing drive especially when you get off the paved road. I would definitely recommend

Great little trail if you’re looking for an awesome workout. First mile is nothing special as it parallels the highway before cutting back away from the road, but if your taking it all the way the the FSR turn around, the views from mile 2.5-4 are incredible! My husband loved the wild game tracks and activity, and we saw a small group of Whitetail Deer. Pack lots of water, this hike gets long! Great hike, no big frills, but overall beautiful.

8 months ago

5.6 miles one-way. Out-n-back. Moderate. Elevation min. 5690' - max. 6087'. Elevation start 6029', end 5808'. Altitude change 220'.
Trailhead location: From Payson 20 miles north on AZ 87, Between Pine and Strawberry, close to Strawberry, milepost 270. Parking for 4 cars, but additional space is the Trail #15 lot a few yards up the road on the left.
At the end it connects to Pine Canyon Trail #26 in Pine Canyon.

off road driving
8 months ago

Beautiful pine country. Recovering from fire damage in some areas, but still a gorgeous view. My Backroad Song!

trail running
8 months ago

This is a fun trail to run. The switchbacks are very gradual and the trail is well maintained. Yes, you do have to drive past a shooting range to get here, but it is worth it. As another post said there are cattle trails, but I think the main trail is easy to stay on and you can’t get too far off course. I was running and didn’t make any wrong turns. If you are worried about losing the trail, go up the switch backs first. The trail in that direction is very clear. There are nice vistas and cool limestone cliffs along the way. Enjoy.

Challenging and beautiful

The trail (IMO) is not clearly marked. I liked the views but ended up way off track.

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