Barnhardt Trail

HARD 88 reviews
#9 of 120 trails in

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. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

10.2 miles
2,775 feet
Out & Back

dog friendly



nature trips





wild flowers


2 days ago

So this hike I’ve been on several times growing up and definitely a hike to go on in the late winter or spring to see the waterfalls. Which in the past have seen up to three climaxing with the third in the canyon. I enjoy the difficulty especially because it keeps it relatively quiet of lazy hikers and people who leave trash behind. They seem to avoid harder trails which is great for the rest of us. Beautiful views and water keeps me coming back every year!

24 days ago

This is probably a nice hike in the spring, but in mid July it was hot, brown and dry. I enjoyed the 4-mile dirt road with cattle and huge jackrabbits. Approximately 1/3rd of the hike is rocky/gravely. I encountered 2 rattlesnakes on the trail. The “waterfall” at 2.5 miles still offered small pools of water (possibly from the monsoon storm the previous day) and barely a trickle down the rock formation, which is quite scenic. Follow the creek bed upward and off the trail, just around the corner, for some really scenic, shady respite. Back on the trail after this highlight is fairly flat and monotonous. I turned around at 3.9 miles because of the heat and unchanging, flat terrain. Elevation gain was 3670 ft. My hike started at 7:40 am after an easy 90 min drive from Phoenix and took 4 hrs 15 min including a couple short breaks. I drank 3 of the 4 liters I brought. Sunscreen is a must. Wish I had had some bug spray, too. Only saw 2 other hikers. The only thing “difficult” about the hike was the elements (heat, humidity, rattlesnakes). The incline and path is moderate at best. I was surprised that the temp was about 10 degrees hotter than that in Payson.

1 month ago

Amazing views throughout, but a bit of an anti-climatic view at the end unless you decide to continue on the Mazatzal trail. Saw 2 bobcats, a tarantula, and several hummingbirds. Also note: this trail is not 10.2 miles like it says. We clocked 13 miles round trip. So if you do this, plan for a longer trip. First 3.3 miles were most difficult, but then it levels out. I would rate the first half of the trip as hard but the second half after the waterfall as moderate. The waterfall was dried up when we got there. Gravely at some points where you want to be careful with your footing. We didn’t see anyone else on the trail. I recommend starting early in the day before it gets too hot.

trail running
1 month ago

This was a fun trail. A little daunting driving past the cattle (including bulls) and human-sized jackrabbits on the 4 mile dirt road on the way in, but fewer animals on the actual trail. We drove a sport sedan, so you don’t need an SUV. The beginning of the trail was a little rocky, but it cleared out and you could get a nice pace. The switchbacks have shade cover if you get an early enough start. We started 8 am. 2L water was sufficient for just over 11 miles. The backside was even nicer for running, but after 5.6 miles out I never saw the intersection with the AZ Trail. I assumed I would since this is marked as an Out and Back, but I may have misunderstood. No water on the waterfalls in Late June.

2 months ago

Spectacular hike!
Started at 0630 with perfect weather on a day with high forecasts of 82F for Payson and 98F for Phoenix.
Fairly steep uphill for the first 3 miles, but the trail is quite good. Do not turn around at the waterfall at 3.3 miles as the next half mile or so is the most scenic of the whole hike. The rest of the hike is mostly flat and generally relaxing.
Amazing views, nice and green and plenty of flowers and wildlife even after a dry winter.
I clocked 12.7 miles for the round trip and it took me exactly 5 hours.
I will definitely be back!

5 months ago

Challenging and beautiful

6 months ago

Great hike. Waterfall area is in 3.2 miles. No water running when we were there. Constant uphill from the trailhead. Most is easy and gradual, little steeper through the switchbacks. 2 more miles and you're at the end. First 3.2 miles is a 1,700ft elevation gain. Last 2 miles is only another 400ft. Total 10.2 out and back.

7 months ago

Went this am left the parking lot approximately 9am and got to the saddle area around 12:00pm after stopping a few times. Coming back down we left at 12:09pm and got back at 1:21pm. Overall I felt the hike was pretty easy and most in our group of 12 enjoyed the hike as well.

7 months ago

This is one of my favorite hiking trails in Arizona; we do it every year. It's wonderful in fall and spring (chance of running water or even icicles!) but we turned back once in summer from the heat. A steady, beautiful climb up into the mountains. A couple of times we've gone a bit past the waterfall just for some more elevation, but scenery is not as interesting after this point.

8 months ago

This is one of the best hiking experiences I’ve had while living in Arizona. I don’t know why it’s listed here as difficult. My experience is that there is a gradual incline that takes you up, up to a Mesa from which you can look back into an astonishing vista, perhaps over one hundred miles. I would estimate it’s three miles in and three miles back, though I’ve met people on the trail who have hiked much further, some back packers and even a deer hunter. One time we encountered a couple who were walking their alpacas, and we got to pet them. The Mesa is a place where you can sit or lie down and just relax and enjoy your accomplishment of such a simple activity as walking and note how beautiful the world can be. The one thing you should be aware of is that the road in can be rough, so you should be extra careful driving in, especially if your car is low to the ground. While on that way you may see some cattle grazing around cactus, another treat for the eyes.

9 months ago

What a beautiful hike. Very rocky and you need to watch your footing at all times. Loved the solitude, challenge, gorgeous views and great workout!

11 months ago

Very challenging, but rewarding with the views and wet areas.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A pretty hard trail if you go the whole way and no waterfall in the summer :( at least not went we went in July. It's a beaut. Take sunscreen, duh. (We didn't and burned pretty bad. Will have these tan lines for the rest of our lives pretty sure.) You feel like you're in the middle of nowhere because the trail goes pretty far into the mountains. If you're into that and pretty views, this trail is for you. Kinda rocky in some places. I tripped regularly.

Friday, June 30, 2017

A very rocky and strenuous trail which offers great views and visits a seasonal waterfall. The accent and descent are almost a continual grade so it is not too hard other than the large amount of rocks on the trail.

We went on to the Arizona Trail (to the left) so that we could look over the Matazal divide for more scenic views.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

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.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

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.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

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.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

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!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Beautiful! Love the waterfalls. Went all the way to the divide and back. Will do again!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

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.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Trail was great! Good for all levels. Views are spectacular!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

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!

Monday, February 06, 2017

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

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Great trail with interesting rock formations. It is a climb but I did not find it to be extremely difficult at all.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Gorgeous in winter months with icicles and water flow but canyons are also more shaded.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

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.

mountain biking
Saturday, July 16, 2016

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!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

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.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Great hike! Be sure to go prepared with water and maybe snack. Nice climb up, a little rocky, great scenery!

Thursday, May 05, 2016

long but beautiful! first few miles can be tough with incline but legs didn't feel it on the way back.

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