Explore the most popular birding trails in Tonto National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

I’ve never enjoyed doing something as dangerous as the level three scrambling you must get through to make way to the summit of Browns Peak. The trail in to the saddle was moderate and just slightly over 2 miles. The scramble after the saddle makes this difficult 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!

backpacking
3 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!

hiking
8 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!

hiking
8 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

hiking
9 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.

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.

backpacking
11 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
11 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
13 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.

hiking
14 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.

great spot. be careful of flooding

Tough

hiking
15 days ago

Short and easy, nice signage for the ruins. Head down the back to access the balanced rock.

hiking
15 days 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.

Very nice hike! Two trails that I noticed, the low trail which hugs the creek and the high trail which is most traveled, but away from the creek. We did both, low going in, high coming out. For the grand finale, there are two springs, awesome!! People do camp along the trail, something I definitely plan on doing on our next trip.

Meh. At least we were out in nature and enjoying each other’s company. But the trail left us a bit underwhelmed today. Maybe if the river had been full and flowing it would have been a better vibe.

hiking
16 days ago

LOVED this hike! Arrived around 6:30am on a Saturday and it was pretty empty, although when we were heading back around 8 both the trail and the lake were starting to fill up. Seriously beautiful views of the lake and surrounding mountains the whole way, with some outlets to walk down to the water. There was a rattlesnake and a family of javelinas when we were there, so keep an eye out for wildlife and stay aware. Heads up (and my reason for 4 stars)- the lake is popular for boating and jetskis. If you're looking for a relaxing, quiet hike either go really early or pick another trail.

Great hike! We hiked this with 7 and 8 year old. We only went to the end where the trails split to other trails and didn’t go the last mile after reading the reviews that it just leads to the 300 road and is steep and rocky. Fun hike and easy for 7 miles. kids made it no problem. Glad we made it to the top, however, I’m writing this to warn others with kids only interested in playing in the water that there were 2 other water falls that aren’t as far and are actually bigger and better for playing in. If and when we do this hike again with the kids we would only go to the 2nd falls with the flat top and had small trail from main trail leading you to it. The top is beautiful but we would have spent more time at the lower falls had we not expected something greater at the end. Took us about 2 hours up due to exploring, spent some time playing and enjoying the scenery at the top and only 1 down. But definitely a great place to spend the day. We got there about 10am and was down and back to car about 3:30. Parking was sparse but still not too big of an issue. The trailhead has arrows from where the parking/restroom is that points you back to the right over the bridge. It’s the immediate left and then left from campground. We didn’t have any issues finding or staying on the trail.

One of the best hikes in the area due to its close proximity to town while still offering tremendous views (best at sunset) and a feeling like you are actually in the wilderness. Bonus: free parking and you'll usually have the trail to yourself. Challenging enough to give you a decent workout, but easy enough that most people can handle it. Sturdy hiking shoes/boots are recommended as you there are some area of fine, loose gravel and others that are a bit rocky and uneven where you'll appreciate having good ankle support (that said, my young kids did it in cheap sneakers!). Highly recommended for some stunning sunset views, as well as when the saguaros are in bloom.

Beautiful area. Very green, due to lots of rain recently.

However, Trail is a misnomer. It is actually a Forest Service road. We could have driven it instead of hiking. Not what we were looking forward to.

Signage is non-existent. Had to completely relied on AllTrails. Very hot. Almost no shade whatever.

No signage at beginning of “trail”, just a walkthrough at the fence along the highway. Followed what is little more than a drainage til reach a fence. No way through. We went to left and hooked up with the road. Right through the gate and just followed the road. Very little water in the creek.

I’d not recommend this trail. Too many others up here that look better.

hiking
21 days ago

Decent trail with some views of Red Mountain and Four Peaks.

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