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

PAYSON AREA TRAILS Map
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Beautiful!

hiking
14 days ago

This is quite fun if you like hopping from one rock to the next, but it’s not the best trail if you are just looking for an easy stroll. I liked it! A bit hard to navigate and there are several paths you can take...but it’s hard to get lost with a GPS.

Great trail! The first couple of miles are somewhat generic, but once you make it down to the creek it’s really nice.
The trail gets confusing towards the end but keep going as the waterfall all the way at the end makes it worth the trek!

hiking
15 days ago

LOVED this trail. Lots of scrambling, bouldering, and rock hopping. We paused many times to observe the beautiful rock formations, caves, tree varieties, fall colours and explore each area. My wife had our 7mo daughter on her back and managed to navigate fairly easily. It has challenging sections that follows the rocky creek bed but is very doable. The massive cave with falling water at the end was spectacular- pictures do not do it justice- it’s epic.

It's one of the tuffer trails of fossil creek. Waterfalls are beautiful but not easily accessible. Be prepared for this one because the road is very rocky and it can hurt the legs.

Things to must have.
1. Good trekking shoes
2. Water
3. Power bars

backpacking
17 days ago

This hike is amazing up to the spring. Past that the trail is extremely hard to follow and steep loose rocks threatened injuries. After about a half mile or so it is well marked with carins up to Rim Road. Even with this app and trail markers I lost the trail several times. Many great spots to camp by and below the spring.

Mild rock climbing to the most beautiful payout

hiking
23 days ago

I hiked this trail today and thought it was amazing. The scenery was stunning and the fall leaves were beautiful. I can’t wait to go back and do it again.

what a great trail I definitely will be doing this one again.
It's such a good trail for the family not to easy but not hard at all we had our 4 year old and 6 year old and they did great.
there's a great camping site right at the trailhead, I'm hoping to go camp there and do the entire trail next time. it's a beautiful trail and love the sounds from the creek.

hiking
30 days ago

Actually 9 miles including trail head. Don't do it if you aren't ready! Waterfall is fabulous. I can't wait to do it again.

1 month ago

loved it

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail bring water. Not recommended for dogs or kids

hiking
1 month ago

Parking filled up pretty quickly, but considering it was a perfect fall day, it was easy to see why. The 1140' elevation gain over 4+ miles was very doable even for a 51yo not used to the altitude. A little splash of fall foliage along the creek among the pines was a nice touch. Loved being able to listen to the water for the whole hike and climb around the spring at the end. A little rocky, a little dirt, overall a fabulous hike!

Hike to the water isn’t bad- I’d recommend not going in hot summer months. (Don’t forget your parking permit.) hike up after swimming all day was brutal/ brings lots of water. Also may not be the best hike for a dog.

hiking
1 month ago

Fantastic hike!

Pretty easy going up to the spring, but past that it can be challenging to stay on the main trail due to overgrowth and limited use. Also, that last leg to Rim Road is rather steep and rocky. Nice views near the top though. Saw some elk to the side of the trail on the way out around dusk, then a deer as I drove from the trailhead out to the highway.

Did the trail in October. Weather was great cold at the start but warmer near bottom. Some tricky spots and not for younger kids. The hike down was pretty easy but back out sucked the energy out of you. At the bottom the river was flowing and sound of water was relaxing

I have done Fossil Creek through Camp Verde but my kids and I were anxious to complete the hike through Strawberry. We could not have picked a better day for this hike on 8.25.18. We went with a group of 13, ages 8-45 and thankfully, everyone survived and had an amazing time. We were blessed with dark clouds the entire day though it never rained. The hike is definitely a workout but the views and waterfall at the end were absolutely worth it. Spent about 4 hours cliff jumping and swimming. Definitely bring food as you will want to sit and enjoy the scenery and the water. The hike out was a challenge for my 8 year old as it was very steep and it definitely got my heart rate up. If you have young kids, I would recommend the hike through Camp Verde and save this one for the older kids. Would absolutely do this hike again next summer!

This was a beautiful and easy hike. Completed it with a group ages 8-42 and everyone did great. Ended up picking a day in July that was perfect. Cloudy with rolling thunder and a light sprinkle made this hike through the pines absolutely beautiful. Take some snacks or lunch and enjoy it while eating next to the creek.

hiking
1 month ago

Excellent trail! A fairly easy one to bring first-time backpackers on. I was surprised we had issues with coyotes in the area. They usually keep to themselves but there were three that were testing us the whole night, walking through our campsite and later in the early morning, we had one yelling outside our tent.

Your glutes and calves will burn!
but it's an amazing site to see 4 miles down. The Spring is fantastic to explore. Bring a hammock to hang & perhaps even a float!
Warning: our doggy suffered ripped paw pads and he's a malinois. We had to carry out a 70 pound dog in a backpack.

Completed the trek down in 1.5 hours.
Completed the trek back up (3/4 of trail is uphill) in 2 hours 15 min.
I think I'm slow compared to the guys i hike with, but we kept pace quite fast, passing some hikers on our way out.

on Tunnel Trail

1 month ago

The trail to the tunnel is a bit confusing. We ended up doing the loop which isn't that bad. Very steep and lots of loose rocks. To our surprise there was a black rattlesnake right at the entrance to the tunnel. Almost stepped on it.

Beautiful on the way down, strenuous hike on the way up. In actuality, it's a total of 10 miles round trip.
Here are some helpful tips:
- don't take your dog unless it's in good shape and you bring it booties for its paws. The trail is VERY rocky and tore up our little girls pads :( we also had to take a lot of breaks for her in the way up. If you do bring your dog, make sure you have a bowl, and plenty of water for cooling body temp and drinking.
-take enough water for the way down. I'd say 2 liters per person. When you get down to sign that says dam (right) springs (left) go right to the dam which will take you to the waterfall. On you're way out, go back toward the spring to fill up your water supply. YOU WILL NEED IT GOING UP. The water bubbles straight from the earth and is the best water I've tasted. It's not that far back... it's off to the right, you'll see it feeding into the springs from underground- very cool!
- start early! It'll take time coming up and you'll want to spend time swimming, etc. We hit the trail at 9am, got to the bottom around 1130 (we had dogs and kids), left at around 1pm and didn't reach the top until 4. But again, took several breaks to water our dogs, kids and selves.
- watch for Rattlesnakes! Stay to the middle of the trail when you can, and be aware. My friend almost got bit, but was able to jump outta the way. Beautiful 2 yr old rattler off to the side sunbathing, but could have been the end to a beautiful day.
- I cannot stress enough- water, water and more water, especially if bringing pets. They get thirsty and their body temps rise quickly. Ensure you keep you're pup alive if bringing. Our 5 yr old barely made it out. Might take her again, but with booties next time.
-kids do ok, they'll slow you down a bit, but as long as they have enough to drink they'll do great and absolutely LOVE swimming under the cave.
Water is cold, refreshing, and perfect in September. Best time of the year to go, in my opinion.
We'll be back!

backpacking
2 months ago

I hiked the Derrick Trail to Highline Trail and out on the Horton Creek Trail. This created a large loop with amazing rim views. The Highline portion was difficult but well worth the reward. It drops you right into Horton Spring. About a half mile down from the Spring is a great camping spot able to accommodate a larger group. The trail out had many stunning waterfalls and great camping spots as well. I’ll definitely be doing this one again.

hiking
2 months ago

We hiked this on 9.3.18. My husband and I went past the 4 mile area where people normally turn around and we kept going to the rim road. We were not prepared for how steep and unsafe that part of the trail is. We actually turned around after a few stumbles. It is very family friendly if you stay on first 4 miles but going past that to the rim road is not safe, especially with kids. My husband actually lost his glasses on the steep part, if you find a black pair of prescription glasses, please let us know. 651-399-3028! Thank you!

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful hike! You go down, down, down and more down to the waterfall which was hard on my hips. Also meant you will be going up, up, UP all the way back!! Like everyone else said bring LOTS of water and save most for the way out. I filled my hydro at the waterfall. The water is crystal clear, cold and moving quickly so its fine. I'm still alive after drinking! I wet a towel there and wrapped on my neck for the way back. That helped a lot. I wouldn't recommend kids or dogs going, but they could do it if in good condition. We left our kids and dog home and were very happy we did so. Its very very rocky so you have to be constantly looking down so you dont trip. The group I was with are all in very good shape. We gym several times a week and hike a lot and the next day we could hardly move! The way out seems like never ending and gets tough with all the rocks. Take your time. Get there early and bring lots of water and snacks. You won't regret it!
There is a ranger there checking permits, so make sure you have one and its for the correct lot.

hiking
2 months ago

Went with my friend. she regularly hikes piestewa peak in Phoenix a few times a week and I walk my neighborhood regularly. Had a little confusion finding trail initially. Just park at the Horton creek hike lot, go back across the bridge and head up the dirt road. you will see a sign. we both loved the trail which had some challenging parts in the first four miles but then leveled off in spots with plenty of photo ops with creek and mini falls. We read lots of mixed reviews about the difficulty of the last mile (you will see a sign) and opted not to continue up, mainly for me and a few unruly guys on the trail. I was feeling it and knew we had 4 miles to get back to the car. I would highly recommend this trail. Bring water and enjoy!

on Horton Creek Trail

hiking
2 months ago

Great family hike! Moderate hiking that follows the creek and has great shade the whole way. Lots of pit stops to cool down and relax.... bring your suit and water shoes.

backpacking
2 months ago

I believe most of the reviews here stop at the waterfall so caution if you continue on.

It is very pretty if you go to the springs and stop at the waterfall but if you continue up the rest of the way onto the rim (the last mile or so) it gets VERY hairy. I did this as a part of a larger loop from See Canyon and when I passed the springs and continued the last mile it was heavy scrambling and the trail was very hard to keep track of - at one point I found myself very exposed where falls could have been deadly.

If you do this last part be sure to take it slow and follow the cairns carefully. Also I wouldn’t recommend any children or someone who isn’t familiar with class 3 scrambles like Siphon Draw. (This might be worse)

hiking
2 months ago

This hike was absolutely amazing. The reviews were a little daunting so I almost did not do this by myself, but I had no problems whatsoever. I'm in pretty good shape and did not find this difficult at all. BUT, that's completely relative to an individual's fitness. I would recommend getting there early (9am) because I had the whole waterfall/spring to myself for a few hours. Once it hit 12:30p.m. the crowd started showing up. I drank about 3L of water, but I stayed hydrated and ate well all week before coming. It's not just about the water you drink during the hike, it's also the prep the week before. Just be smart, come prepared, and enjoy yourself! This is definitely worth the 4-mile in and out.

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