nature trips



dogs on leash

wild flowers

trail running


dog friendly

kid friendly

mountain biking




horseback riding

off road driving

no dogs


scenic driving




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.

Great trail to explore big boulders, some water pools, insects, green vegetation in the middle of the desert!

This is a very interesting trail. The pros are beautiful views from the top of the mesa and a not overly strenuous route.

The cons all have to do with the east side of the loop.

I started to travel east on the loop and chickened out when I couldn't find a trail that I could safely navigate. It appeared to me that the counterclockwise route at least at the onset is not safe in my opinion. Maybe hiking with someone who has traversed that side of the loop before would make a difference.

No prob, I'll just go clockwise and make my way. While somewhat undeveloped with loose rock this part of the trail IS undoubtedly navigable (a/o today's date). The trip up is moderately strenuous, but nothing compared to many of the 'hard' hikes in the Tonto, Superstitions or around the valley. There are many cairns and although I did get off track a little for the most part the trail was ok to follow.

The top of the Mesa and the views of the Salt River Canyon, 4 Peaks and the high mountains to the East are spectacular.

I began to descend thinking that the side of the loop that I first tried would be easier to navigate coming from a different direction. I was able to follow the trail to the start of the descent into the Salt River Canyon, but again could not find a safe way down.

Before writing this review I had a look at the recordings of other hikers. It appears I am not the only one who had some of the same issues. Take a look and remember that traveling the way I did (3/4 of the loop and back) was still really fun, but it is a much longer hike than advertised.

One last note. After dropping off the Mesa retracing the trail down the way I came up, there is a saddle with many cairns leading to the peak to the West of Black Cross Peak. If your intent is to go down and you are following that path you are not going the right way. Again, looking at the recordings I am by no means the only hiker to make this mistake.

This is a fun hike with some very pretty terrain and views. Please be safe (and smart), take plenty of water, a map, snacks, GPS and let someone know where you are at.

Nice views of Red Mt. and Salt River Valley, but a better mountain bike ride than hike.

I would almost give this 5 stars except for the beginning of the trail starting on the Bulldog Saddle side. The trail is of really poor quality with tennis ball to softball sized loose rocks. It's just hard going until you get to the saddle.

From the backside of the saddle to the Pass Mountain side of the trailhead this is an absolutely beautiful hike. I found the backside of this loop really easy to follow right up to the second saddle (travelling counterclockwise). At that point just hug the mountain and work your way to the far side of the canyon where that ridge will take you down with tremendous views of The Flatiron along the way.

If you can time this part of the loop to coincide with sunset you will be treated to some stunning views.

1 day ago

Safer to hike this clockwise and go up (rather than down) the steep portion in my opinion.

4 days ago

Stunning views, will def do it again. Wanted to see the wild pack of horses, no luck. Since this trail borders the lake, I'm sure it'll be less than serene on weekends, jet-skis, etc. When I went it was quiet, began around 7am on a Weds. Parking is $8, can get at a Circle k or QT on the way.

If curious about the name, https://www.google.com/search?q=Dr.+W.W.+Jones&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-1

Interesting quote, from AZ Republic.... "Question: Who was Butcher Jones, and why is a trail named after him near Saguaro Lake?

Answer: The Arizona Republic's Scott Craven did some research, and here's what he found:

"Butcher Jones most likely is Dr. W.W. Jones, according to state historian Marshall Trimble. An online search showed Jones to be more than a medical professional. In the mid-19th century, he also owned mines in Arizona as well as a freighting business. He lived in Yuma, Prescott, Wickenburg, Phoenix and Tempe, and later in life became a rancher. He apparently was fairly influential in his day, and he was friends with Jacob Waltz of Lost Dutchman Mine fame. There also was a mention that Dr. Jones performed surgeries on his dining room table, which may have led to his nickname of Butcher (a Parks Department employee said of Butcher Jones – 'I am pretty sure he was a doctor, but apparently not a very good one.')."

The spring was outstanding. We had it all to ourself. The area has most everything one could want including seclusion, wildflowers, birding, swimming, petroglyphs, a footbridge, the spring, and several varieties of butterfly when we were there which was September 17th 2018. The drive was picturesque and fun even if it is a little white knuckle in places. I do not recommend bloody basin road if you have any questions about the performance capabilities of your vehicle. The road through seven springs is much easier on your heart rate and the road remains two wide through 90% of the ride. Also Bloody Basin has an incredibly harrowing downhill section that was terrifying on the way up and had no guardrails. The great thing about going out that way though, is that you end up driving through agua fria national monument to get out.

Lastly, the spring itself does not require you to cross the footbridge. it is quite easy to find if you are facing the bridge it is to your left just walk down to the bank and head down what looks like a deer path. One of the anchor points for the old bridge is a good marker for a path down to the reed tunnel.

What an adventure! Snakes, bunnies, birds of prey line the bridge to compete with the fisherman who are catching fish the size of my arm.

We were only disappointed by a miltary fly over and a lack of helicopter landings. This was our first alltrails experience and honestly it will be pretty tough to beat it.

Interesting trail. Be prepared for a bit of pathfinding as the trail is poorly marked. I went clockwise and when I was about halfway in, the map took me trough a canyon that I didn’t think I had to pass through at first.
Encountered a lost dog in the canyon if anyone is looking. About 50 lbs, black/dark with a white chest and a red collar with a couple of tags that I could not get close enough to read.

I’ve never enjoyed doing something as dangerous as the level three scrambling you must get through to make way to the summit of Brown’s. The trail to the saddle was moderate and just slightly over 2 miles. The scramble after the saddle makes this a difficult trail however. I will say, if you do not feel comfortable, turn around Remember, it’s not just up you have to go but back down as well!

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!

9 days 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.

Awesome signs explaining what use to be there! Amazing views and lots of little critters!

13 days 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!

13 days 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.

While the “trail” did display BEAUTIFUL views it was BEYOND a hard rating for me and the group that I was with, and we ARE NOT novices at “hiking”. This was more mountain climbing than hiking to us. The trail was unmarked after a certain point and quite dangerous out a few points in my opinion. Maybe we had gotten “off trail” at one point on the way down but I was seriously praying that I wouldn’t die!!! There was literally nowhere to get my footing or nothing to hold to. It was serious rick climbing!!!

Again the trail was beautiful once we got to the inside of the mountain but it needs to be marked A LOT better and that rating should be extremely difficult. This was a once in a lifetime hike for me. Glad I survived it!!!

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

14 days 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.

14 days ago

Decent trail that leads to other trails. Definitely not hard, easy trail...maybe moderate if really hot.

after all the flooding it's pretty rough looking. slippery rocks and brown waters. busy and only small area to enjoy the 'water fall'

Everything I wanted. We went early afternoon and it was way too hot but cooled down perfectly once the sun went behind the hills. So go either early morning or mid afternoon. It is gorgeous and fun climbing around on the top.

Fun trail and challenging run at night. Without the full moon, you can get lost easy. Ended up back on the South side, instead of on the North side of the trail.

Lots of rocky areas in some dried out wash areas. Use caution in these areas. Air down tires is recommended. Initially started to record at the beginning of my journey but ended up, clearing the recording. It took way longer to get back, than anticipated.

Everything after FR-1847 is a blur and I wound up on FR-403, back to FR-1847 South and out the Bush Highway entrance, where I started.

Would be nice to run this with someone who, knows where to go at night or day? Ha ha. Contact me at www.tacomaworld.com (tacomarich), if you are a fellow, Tacoma wheeler (4x4) and want to go wheeling?

Use caution, when night wheeling. I got lost at the big, boulders area. I couldn't find FR-1851, or Srv Rd 402!

Must have gotten really off course because of all the pin stripes, from the overgrowth of trees, plants etc...

Will have to run again, in the daytime or night again. If someone would be kind, to donate a set of LEDs? 4x4 highly recommended.

16 days 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)

I would do this again, but I would go during the winter.
The area was beautiful, though the the water was muddy brown.
There was a few cairns but not much of a trail. We were walking through some tall grass when I stopped to express my concern about snakes and not being able to see my feet. My buddy came up behind me and and suddenly yelled “snake”! A rattlesnake took off through and almost on top of the long grass less than 5 feet from where I had just walked a few seconds earlier. Very scary, and we quickly turned around and got back to where you could see the ground....

off road driving
16 days ago

Fun, easy trail with some great views and a few obstacles to test your climbing skills .

Great hike! I had an easy time following the trail and loved the climb at the end. Beautiful views

off road driving
19 days ago

I didn't see any of those wide open trails in the pictures. gate at the end of the road was closed so I went down the way the map shows. it was all ATV trails. far to narrow for my truck but I sent it anyway. was pretty challenging mainly due to the narrow nature of the trail. goodbye paint

Great trail for my entire family. Not to intense but enough to get the body moving. Hiked with ages ranging from 8-37.

19 days ago

A great hike if you want to get out of the city and escape the Phoenix heat. It was probably 95-100 in Phoenix and about 70-75 on trail. We went on Monday of Labor Day weekend and only saw 1 other group of 2. The distance and elevation gain is nothing crazy but enough to make you feel like you got a work out. The 360 view at the top is great. It took us 1.5 hours up and about 45 mins down (we hustled a bit because there was a storm coming in, and we didn't want to drive out on a muddy road). I have a Subaru Crosstrek, which handled the road just fine. Most of the road is in pretty good condition, with just a few tricky spots. High clearance and 4WD or AWD still a must.

Absolutely beautiful, but do not attempt this without some sort of offline map. There's very little signage and it's easy to get off track. I got all the way to the black mesa/second water trail intersection before I realized how off track I had gotten.

great spot. be careful of flooding

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