Explore the most popular hiking 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.

Moderate to hard, boots recommended, and at least 3 liters of water. Started at 5:45am and reached the saddle at 6:30, just after the sun crested the range to the East. Most of my ascent was in the shade, thankfully.

Views were spectacular! Lone tree is just beyond the saddle and definitely worth the extra 20ish minute hike, although the trail was a little difficult to follow at times. Take the trail over the saddle, and as it takes it’s first hard left, go straight through to the right and up instead of taking the switchback left and downward.

Total time was about 3 hours with a good half hour rest up top, at a fairly quick pace. Absolutely one of my favorite hikes in the East Valley.

Closed today

area where the alltrail is marked was marked closed on the path itself. I walked along the jeep route, was not great. also consider shooters in the area, also not great and kind of scary!

couldn't find where to park. help =)

BE WARNED: THIS DOES NOT DIRECT TO EASY ROAD. If you click 'directions' above, it will route you to the Dugas Road exit off of the I-17. This is the road that will take you to the ranch/hotel side of the Verde River. it is extremely rocky and not advised for anyone in a regular vehicle. if you are looking to rock crawl, this is the road for you. In my lifted Jeep it was awesome, but if not, take the route that leads you to Child Power Rd. it is way safer and the river crossing is easy most months of the year. I actually saw an old car crashed down the ravene that clearly should not have been on this road.
TLDR:
Looking for intense 4x4? Take Dugas Rd to 68G
Looking for friendly dirt road? Take FR260 to Child Power Rd.

This past weekend was my second visit to this location. My amazing dude was my escort both times.
First trip: about this time last year on a Saturday into Sunday (we recollect). There were about a dozen people enjoying the creek from where we could see at our campsite. He swam, I didn’t - too cold for me. There was trash around the campsite (and scattered all around really) including a tampon and an applicator which was really phocking disgusting, people are awful. Once we got to the actual hot spring it had no other guests. We enjoyed it and decided to head back to camp. Almost at that moment, a group of hikers showed up to the tub. Perfect timing.
Second visit: not a single car or voice that we noticed in the area of what we now consider our campsite. We awoke to the sound of a helicopter landing in the clearing, literally next to our tent and vehicle hidden by the cover of trees. The chopper was so close, sand blew in our tent. We greeted the pilot and occupant happily - they commented that they didn’t even see us! They fished a bit and left. We both went swimming but I abandoned the activity after my love was bitten in the butt by a fish! No thank you, good-bye creek swimming on this trip for this gal. I can hang but I have my limits. We sat by the water chatting, snacking, & watching the fish jump. They too must have seen the fisherman in the hilo depart. We found ourselves ready to nap on the shore in some shade, the two guys playing on inner tubes on the other side were the only other company to be seen or heard. A pair showed up on quads and moved on. We thought this day was too good to be true. This really was OUR spot.
Suddenly disaster struck when one of the tube guys experienced a less than graceful expulsion from the rope swing and badly broke a leg. My guy, the helpful & conscientious person that he is, was able to fetch the quad guys whom just happened to have experience in this type of thing. It was a much more refreshing experience of humans than the beach tampon issue of last summer.
Five stars. Check it out. Bring your own rope. See you out there trail folk!

hiking
4 days ago

Interesting trail that was much more of an adventure than I expected!
Warning: This trail is more remote than most other trails in the area. It is a combination of regular trails, a few dirt roads and several washes.
Pay close attention to your map! There are a few well placed cairns, but it is not obvious which way to go on several occasions and it is quite easy to get off track.
I am in decent shape and have done a fair amount of hiking, but I went off trail twice, had my phone down to 10% battery, ran out of water, and ended up quite dehydrated on a “cool” June morning with only 90F.
Be smarter than me! Bring at least 2 liters of water if you go when it is hot, and make sure you have enough battery power if that is your only way to navigate.
I saw a dead horse in a wash and not a single person during the hike...and was happy when I made it back to my car. Be safe in the heat.

After 4 miles you have to be very careful for trail marking. Lots of big boulders and fallen trees are on trail. Also carry a lot of water. If you are not into long hikes don’t attempt this trail. I completed whole loop and have not found any other hiker. So if you are planning to do whole loop carry a lot of water and carry other hiking essentials, most likely you will be by yourself.

Fantastic loops! Make your own distance by adding loops or subtracting...... good elevation not too much, good for trail running and bikes! This is a great easy go to trail system!

on Butcher Jones Trail

hiking
8 days ago

One of the most surreal moments of the trip was to arrive at the trailhead (sunrise) to witness the beauty of the Salt River wild horses. Amazing. The hike is beautiful with incredible views. Be cautious as the trail is quite narrow and steep at times. The narrow part can create an issue with rattle snake encounters... as we experienced on this hike. We expect to run into all sorts of wildlife during these hikes but did get ourselves into a pickle on the trail. Our issue was upon our return to the trailhead where we encountered a coiled rattler in a covered brush area near the shore. It’s beautiful in this small patch of area but you only have one way to pass through. There is no where to climb up or around in certain areas so if your trail is blocked, it may pose additional impediments. Just be cautious and aware of your surroundings on this trail. I suggest a walking stick of sorts.

Hiked it during the day and then again 6 hours later to catch the eclipse a few months ago. If you get towards the top late in the day to see the sun start to set the view is best around Phoenix IMO

4 stars mostly for sentimental value. Some nice views of the Superstitions and one confusing part where the trail follows a less than obvious route.

attempted to hike this one on 6/2/2018. closed due to extreme fire restrictions.

Do you pay when you get there or do have to purchase a permit online? And 9 dollars per person or vehicle?

I've gone twice in the last week. Each time I arrive in the cave I am swarmed by a few bees within minutes that won't leave me or my pack alone. I love this trail and cave, but the bees are very annoying when trying to cool off in the cave. I more or less waited for them to get off my bag so i could grab it and head back down! Good luck everyone!

hiking
13 days ago

Beautiful hike down, and even more wonderful below. Watch out for poison oak my friends!

The difficulty for this hike was definitely not hard. Just the Peralta trail which is .1 mile shorter along the same trail is rated at moderate which is about right. Took me about 1 hour 45 mins from trail head to the lone tree (end) and probably about 1 hour 15 mins back so 3 hours total hike not including venturing around for half an hour on the saddle. Used up about 2.5 liters of water. Boots recommended, but that goes for just about all of the supes.

Great views doing this hike. Got a good view of 3 sisters driving towards the trail head and once you reach freemont there is a great view of Weaver’s Needle.

hiking
14 days ago

No real hiking paths. We ended up just walking around and exploring. It was nice area but prob wouldn’t go back.

hiking
15 days ago

Heaven on Earth

Fun short trail. Not difficult at all.

Great hike! Most of the trail is easy and easy to find, just follow the stream up. Took my dog and he did great as well! Several options for rock scrambling for more seasoned hiking and stunning views. Hopped in the water..... COLD as expected for May 1st! Will definitely make a return trip! P.S. Day fee of $9.00, bring cash, the PAY box is NOT well marked.

My dog and I set out on an adventure to find some creeks/water in Payson, but when we arrived at the trail we intended to hike, we were told everything north of Payson is closed.

This was a bummer, so I pulled out my AllTrails and stumbled upon this hike. Overall, I was pretty disappointed. This was more of an ATV/Jeep off-road trail than a hiking trail. The terrain is very desert like and I felt as if we were walking through the desert in PHX. We only got about .8 miles in and had to turn around, as the long stretches of un-shaded gravel/rocks were burning my pups' paws. We decided to find the bit of shade there was, and hammocked for a bit.

All in all, it was very hot, dry, and not shaded. There's no water anywhere to be found either, which was a big bummer for us. Pray for these fires to end and for the rain to come!

Forest area closed at Houston Mesa Rd.

I liked it, but got a bit turned around towards the end. I think I kept going past the end of it by a few miles. Lots of nice rock formations to view.

Pleasant exercise, beautiful views, clean air. Bring a compass! Did not see any markers - Mile 5? The road back is not paved but very easy to navigate with a sedan.

Beautiful wash saw deer. No waterfall so dry but lets pray for rain!

hiking
21 days ago

Beautiful trail but not lightly trafficked. A lot of mountain bikers out. Still... The desert beauty was amazing. Easy trail, saw lots of birds and lizards... Even a rabbit.

I just got turned around, it’s closed. Most everything North of payson is closed. South of Payson is open.

Will update rating when I get the chance to go.

The 1st 0.6 miles are moderately trafficked & hikers have to frequently get off the narrow trail for bicycles speeding through. After the fork in the road we went right (technically off the trail) and it was still a well-worn path, but we only saw 1 person in 3 miles. Tons of cactus, birds, lizards & nature to enjoy! We’ll go again for sure.

Challenging hike with fantastic views!

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