nature trips

dogs on leash



wild flowers

trail running


dog friendly

kid friendly


mountain biking



horseback riding

off road driving

scenic driving


no dogs




The Tonto National Forest, Arizona, embraces almost 3 million acres of rugged and spectacularly beautiful country, ranging from Saguaro cactus-studded desert to pine-forested mountains beneath the Mogollon Rim. This variety in vegetation and range in altitude (from 1,300 to 7,900 feet) offers outstanding recreational opportunities throughout the year, whether it's lake beaches or cool pine forest. As the fifth largest forest in the United States, the Tonto National Forest is one of the most-visited “urban” forests in the U.S. (approximately 5.8 million visitors annually). Its boundaries are Phoenix to the south, the Mogollon Rim to the north and the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian reservations to the east.

What a great loop trail! I did it clockwise; it was such a treat to be high enough in elevation to be able to walk through and past many juniper trees on the way up, a different experience from my last many hikes around Phoenix. The trail was easy to follow, especially when you keep an eye out for the cairns strategically placed. What great scenery! So varied, so may wonderful vistas. As others have said the trail is smooth in many parts, but is also quite rocky in others, as you might expect. Loved it!

great hike

This was an outstanding trail. Everyone stops at the overlook or the lonesome pine. Seeing the Needle from every side is truly a gift. Around every rise or outcropping was a new breathtaking view. I cannot day enough about how beautiful this area is. No need for a permit. The park ranger was waiting at the trailhead and said they no longer charge!

Excellent hike to get your hiking legs back. Elevation is just enough to get your heart pumping and the views are incredible.

Easy hike for about the first 0.5miles. Very easy to get off trail once you reach the base of the mountain. Remember, you are far outside the city- so a lot of wildlife..... Rattlesnakes, so be careful. Make sure you start early in the morning as this hike can take a long time if you get off course. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

Great hike along the water. Beautiful views along the way. Very enjoyable. When I hiked this it was pretty well traveled and some spots made ‘two lane’ traffic interesting. I did go on a fee-free Park day. Trailhead has a bathroom, picnic area, and lake access.

Great hike, no bears were seen (although some poo, footmarks and scattered bones were there) and no rattlesnakes.
Just so you know, there is no actual water wheel at the end of the trail, only an intimidating “no trespass” sign.

We backpacked this with the baby on our back. nice and easy day hike. It was very shaded and the rocks, the creek, the falls, and swimming holes were gorgeous.
!! BUT!!! The Deal Breaker...
Although it was pretty, this trail is highly trafficked by college kids. We saw naked people, and lots of craziness. Once we were at the creek, it was CROWDED. We swam for a bit, but felt weird with our 2 year old under the circumstances.
I might consider going in the late fall when there is no swimming, so it might be less trafficked.

This trail needs more reviews!! What a beautiful hike!!! Lots of desert and rock. The first leg of the trail was kinda meh near the ranch area but afterwards the cactus views were great!! This trail was rocky and sandy and boulderous. I would rate it easy tho! The empty washes were my favorite!! Mesquite trees and huge walls surrounding! Not sure it was part of the mapped trail here but wowza I loved hanging out back in the wash/cavern!! The trail DOES need better markers though as I got off trail at least 6-7 times. Added more distance to my overall hike coming in at 4 miles. Will return!! Road to trailhead was long and bumpy tho so just a heads up!

Great trail for a couple hours. You can choose different loops/directions along trail to get more of a workout hike. Good family hike and great for the dog!!

Relatively easy hike with a couple of challenging spots. Mainly walk along water offering great views. Need to go to end of trail for beautiful view of Four Peaks over the Salt River. Well worth the hike!

We took lower trail about 2 miles until it joined the wash then followed wash back to parking. Would say mostly easy trail. Scenery was good as usual.

3 days ago

Just did this Trail this last Friday-Sunday. We started late Friday evening and camped about 20 minutes in then completed the hike the following day. It took probably 2-3 hours with a lot of detours and checking out the creek! Such a beautiful hike and the water flow was fantastic. We were able to filter water whenever we wanted as water was so accessible and camped the second night behind the springs. Obviously this is a day hike but was fun to extend it and take our time!

Fun hike to take the kids on!

This is a moderate, low elevation hike. Nice open space and close to city. Trail is used primarily for biking, keep an eye for those bikers. Something else, if you are lucky you will come across some beautiful wild horses, very cool sight.

Trails is well maintained and is marked, no way of getting lost on this one. I love the views of red mountain and river. After the hike you are about 5 minutes drive to river which is a perfect place to cool down.

Finished it pretty quickly. Easy trail and a nice hike.

Beautiful! Not very challenging but the views of Saguaro Lake and Salt River are some of the best I’ve seen in the east valley.

Really easy hike more of a walk. Very good place to go for sun sets get a great view of part of the valley.

A shaded oasis in the desert . Most of your hike is shaded following alongside the creek . Although the trail is hard to find sometimes. Just keep following the creek and go up . People have left ropes to aid in climbing which is much appreciated. We found gloves to be helpful. Don't go when it's raining , the rocks are very slippery and any misstep could find you injured or incapacitated in a remote area .. not good ! Cliff dwellings are awesome .

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