Barnhardt Trail is a 10.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Payson, Arizona that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.
Gorgeous trail. Has forest, desert, flowers, canyons, mountains. A river below and a small waterfall too. Very peaceful. I ended up going about 2 miles past the waterfall.
Great hike! I would rate this more moderate as the incline is fairly gradual. There are a few spots that have steep climbs buy nothing crazy. The waterfall (4 miles in) and streams (6 and 10 miles in- approximately) are running light and will dry up in the near future...water packs can be filled from these sources. I would recommend at least 3L for up and 2L back down the trail.
If you are plan on backpacking there is a great site towards the end as the trail divides into the AZT. If you keep right you will run into these campsites about a half mile after The Divide.
This trail was fantastic, the views were amazing! I only had one day in Phoenix to go hiking and was very pleased with my choice of this trail. I agree with the other commenters that it's moderate rather than hard. There is a lot of uphill, but it is such a gentle incline that it is not too strenuous. According to my GPS it was actually 12 miles rather than 10. If I were to do it again I probably wouldn't continue past the waterfall 3 miles in, past that it fairly quickly becomes less scenic. At the waterfall make sure you go up the creek to the main falls, I would not have realized to go up there if I hadn't seen other people coming back down.
I've done this trail many times, and it never gets old. Beautiful views. When the water's running, the falls and streams are awesome! I almost always see some kind of wildlife.
The hard rating is not necessarily accurate. The trail climbs up quite a bit, but it's a gradual climb. I'd rate it as moderate. I often don't see another human being the whole time on this trail. The most I've ever seen is maybe 15 people along the way.
If it's rained a lot recently, or there's been recent snow melt, the dirt road leading to the trailhead can get almost like quicksand in places. Even in my 4WD truck, if I get a couple miles up it and it starts getting greasy and deep, I turn around and come back another, drier, day. One time I saw a 4WD Toyota Tundra sunk up to the top of the wheel wells in the mud. He was waiting for another guy to come pull him out. Like my uncle often says "with a 4WD you just get stuck farther back in the woods." LOL
Overall, this is a great hike. If you're really ambitious and go past the waterfalls, there are some excellent spots for camping!
Beautiful! Love the waterfalls. Went all the way to the divide and back. Will do again!
The trailhead is a short walk from the parking area, towards the cattle guard.
I thoroughly enjoyed this hike. The landscape is so beautiful; I went in early March so there was many water features as well as snow on the distant peaks despite being about 75 degrees-- amazing! I was only able to complete the first ~3.5 miles of this out and back due to water runoff blocking the trail. I'm looking forward to giving it another go later in the year when the water level is lower. The views are spectacular. The trail is well maintained. Didn't see a single soul while I was out there over a span of 3 hours. I would say the hard rating is not quite right, I'd rate it on the harder side of Moderate.
Trail was great! Good for all levels. Views are spectacular!
Great hike, unexpectedly great. Trail is really pretty good maybe a little overrated as to difficulty. Spectacular views and geology. Lots of water. I would image this is best during the spring with runoff filling the creeks and waterfalls. The last fall is well worth the hike if that was the only reason for your hike. Make sure you hike up to the"Grotto " above the trail.
This is a Wilderness Area no mountain bikes!
Wonderful trail. Little dangerous when it's icy on the ground but passable. I would bring gloves to brace yourself against the wall when the trail is icy if you are going winter seasons
Great trail with interesting rock formations. It is a climb but I did not find it to be extremely difficult at all.
Gorgeous in winter months with icicles and water flow but canyons are also more shaded.
I am intoxicated by my time spent in the southwest recently. To discover this trail and run upon its climbing, jagged ridgeline, the experience was mightily refreshing and rewarding (both physically and aesthetically). Running it in the evening with the sun setting, the manzanita wilderness offers purple hues on its angular rocks, and an open sky that beds the juniper/cacti/manzanita/ponderosa covered mountains that endlessly extend into Arizona countryland. Many places to stop and take breathtaking views.
The trail has been on my list for years and finally, we made it to the trail head @ 4:30pm last Sunday. Managed to pick up an empty water bottle on the trail and a Superman hat - both in great condition... Wonder if the previous gal lost it. Anyways. There was water on the trail within the first .6 miles a little stream that we cleaned up and made into a nice little washing pool. Down below on the majority of the trail you could see many moderate and large pools that if willing to hike down and bushwack to, could find yourself a Shangri-la. We ran into some black bears. A mama and her cubs. The Cubs made an interesting sound like water glugging out of a jug. Anyways, they were carting away from us and had a comfy 50 feet of thick canopy and rocky water creek to make any encounter unlikely. Still, it raised our heart rates. 3.6 miles into the very rocky trail you encounter Big Kahuna. You are lured to your left by the sounds of a natural shower. Scurry around some boulders and there you will come face to face w the infamous fall Big Kahuna. The fall I'm sure rages in spring and is a frozen spectacle in the winter. This time of year however, the fall was nothing stronger than a shower but was fun to climb and half way up it is a separate pool and it's very beautiful up there. The waterfall is fed by the run off from a large meadow of pine trees rooted on century's of storm debri and soil. Go further up the trail to get a spectacular look at the very tree medow that feeds the fall with is percolated spring run off. At this point the view behind you looks like Flatiron from the Superstions, but you are about 2200 ft in elevation higher resting around 6800 ft (this being about .5 miles up trail past the water fall) By this time the sun was setting. I grabbed some twilight photos w unbridled aperture, and then we bombed down the trail in our full suspension mountain bikes and got back to the truck in the wide open parking lot by 8:15 w a hint of ambiance left in the Western skies. Very pretty hike - even in the middle of the summer. Water, forest, fauna. Great getaway. Only 90 mins from Phoenix!!!
Barnhardt is the best hike I've done on the 87. The variance in terrain is astounding (at least when I went). There were areas covered in low shrubs, flat plains, cliffs, burnt areas and creeks and even pseudo-pine regions if you go back far enough. Apparently there is an actual flowing creek you can get to, but I did not manage to find it (was summer, not sure if seasonal).
I did the Barnhardt trail + an extra few miles to the north, doing part of the loop then turning back.
This is a moderate to difficult hike. I don't recommend doing the ~24 miles that I did in a single day. If you do, double the amount of water you would normally bring if it's summer and the creeks are dry. Also, bring sun protection.
The initial Barnhardt trail is good enough. You don't really need to meander through the northern mountains like I did. You won't miss much.