Explore the most popular backpacking trails near Payson with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

backpacking
12 days ago

Phenomenal. I haven't backpacked in a while. My legs were definitely feeling the climb out! Every step of this hike is beautiful. From the pines at the top to the stunning desert to the riparian area at the bottom. There was definitely no water along the way. I brought a gallon in with me and back out. I didn't drink it all, but any less would have been foolish. It was very warm, in the 80s. I will be back to do it again!

Wasn't able to make it all the way down to Hell's Hole due to poor timing on my part. I made it to about mile 5 and had to turn back around to beat sunset. I think if I had allotted myself time to rest at the bottom, the trail wouldn't have been so tiring but a 10 mile hike with no break was TOUGH. You do have to cross the small creek at one point and I'd definitely advise wearing long pants because the overgrown brush isn't too friendly. Even though I didn't make it to Hell's Hole there were amazing views and a quiet trail. I'd recommend this hike in a heart beat for someone who's in shape and has a hiking buddy to go with!

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike but there's a fence that cuts off the trail about 1.5-2 miles up on the ridge. Wasn't too sure about that but we decided not to continue with the trail and found another trail to hike. Still beautiful.

backpacking
2 months ago

Better known as Arizona Trail Section 23, this trail is a real treasure. Bear Spring around mile 9 has water, as well as Horse Camp Seep near the halfway point. Be prepared for elevation gain and weather changes, as the trail takes you from 2k to near 7k feet. Great for thru-hike training. Also, the last 9 miles is a steady downhill that exits the AZT and takes you to a good pick-up point on Doll Baby Ranch Road (4WD suggested).

great hike!

backpacking
2 months ago

My friend and I did this trail and it was incredible! I will say that navigation can be confusing, so study the maps given by the state as well. You have to take some other trails to get to the 37 trail. We went during the week and solitude was serene. I will do it again and soon!

Nice views. I would rate this moderate. The weather was absolutely perfect at 65 degs. Did about 4 miles in had to turn around (ugh hated to) but life calls. Will go back to complete and hook up to another trail

hiking
4 months ago

Really not that hard. Beautiful hike with a great treat at the end. The two rivers converge and there is plenty of water and photo ops

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful scenery can't be enjoyed due to a poorly kept trail, requiring you to go off trail to make some decent progress even then the loop can't be finished realistically in one day due to the terrain. did 9 miles of this trail and had to turn around due to giant Boulder and fallen trees in the way making it difficult to keep a constant speed.

backpacking
9 months ago

This trail is not for beginners! I did it as an overnight in August and enjoyed it immensely. Hikers should be highly aware of snakes (heard a rattler right outside my tent down in the canyon), wasps, and the heat. The water was dark brown in the creek, wonderful to swim in, and good for drinking as long as you have proper water purification. DO NOT attempt this trail during the rainy season--after mile 5 (out of 8.5 one-way), you descend 3k feet into Hell's Canyon and camp next to the creek, which would be deadly if the water were to suddenly rise from flash flooding. The trail has a lot of scree and is pretty exposed, so you're doing it in August heat like me, make sure to soak your clothing/hat at every opportunity and drink lots of electrolytes. Last but not least--trekking poles are highly recommended! When you do this trail, you can say you've been to the gates of Hell and back! :)

hiking
10 months ago

I did this as an overnight hike over Easter weekend. only 2 reasons for 4 instead of 5 stars first the distance on this site as well as the signs at the TH are wrong and it is in fact closer to 8.5mi one way. The second complaint is that in some areas it becomes quite difficult to see the trail and the cairns were few and far too far between. This trail is all about the destination, I spent the night under the stars at the confluence and couldn't have asked for a prettier view. I would only recommend this trail to experienced hikers who come prepared with trekking poles and a method of water purification.

backpacking
11 months ago

Challenging hike, the mileage on this app is not accurate, it's about 8 miles one way. Bring plenty of water and prepare for a rewarding experience!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

This was a beautiful trail not very difficult at the beginning but on the way back be ready for all up hill. Painful but definitely worth it!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Great hike but pretty difficult. The trail was overgrown and narrow on the final descent into the hole, so I would recommend pants and sleeves. I recommend this one for experienced hikers only.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Great hike, not many people at all. It's clean, didn't see a single piece of trash. Took 7 hrs total.

hiking
Sunday, March 19, 2017

Went in doing a day hike. Did 5 miles in. Definitely will go back. The views were beautiful. Bring enough water. The uphill and downhill on the rocks can be a little tricky. So worth it!

backpacking
Monday, March 13, 2017

Great backpacking trip with a Boy Scout Venture Crew. Parts of the trail are a little overgrown but never missed the trail. It seemed like the mileage may be off a little but overall a good trip. Lots of water from winter runoff made for beautiful streams and waterfalls

Friday, March 10, 2017

Only had 2 hours to hike this morning. Went in about 3 miles Flowers are blooming. Creek is flowing a little low. A nice morning hike. Will definitely go back and make it a full day. The part I did was pretty moderate.

hiking
Saturday, February 25, 2017

Myself and a friend did the hike as a one night backpacking trip. I would not recommend doing the full loop as a day hike, the elevation gain and loss combined with the trail conditions (Deer Creek Trail is all but gone in the middle portions) make this a very challenging trek. We did it in spring so it was very green with lots of water flowing in Deer Creek. The loop shown here is actually a combination of two trails (Deer Creek and South Fork). We did a counter clockwise loop but came down Gold Ridge Trail (parallels South Fork but stays on the ridge line). These three trails converge near the top of the mountains at a the AZ trail (dirt road access) and the are plenty of camping spots. This hike is only rated poorly because few people have the skills to keep going past mile 5/6. Be prepaired with a quality top map, to stay a night if you do a loop, and be careful because it is a monster climb in tough terrane.

hiking
Saturday, February 04, 2017

only went up about 3 miles. lots of cactus and thorny scrubs but gets better as you ascend. Nice views. would like to go back and do the full 2 day hike.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The trail isn't very well marked along the creek, which when we went was completely dried up. The solitude was nice; we had to turn back 7 miles in because we wasted so much sun looking for the caryns.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Over grown in areas but very easy to stay on trail despite not much maintenance on it. Once down there, we were able to make it down part of Salome Creek, but it just rained and water was flowing pretty good and far too cold this time of year to purposefully go swimming. excellent places to set up camp by the water, but easy to make it just a day trip as well. whole trip took us a total of 7 hours with hanging out at the creek for about 2 hours.

hiking
Monday, October 17, 2016

Very cool hike. You traverse a variety of different landscapes. There are scenic sections on parts of Barnhardt and on the south western side of Y-Bar (the AZ trail part).

There's a bit of forest fire damage on the Y-Bar section of the loop. Took some tricky navigation to get over a few trees and identify the trail through some damaged brush areas but, otherwise, pretty safe to continue doing this trail.

BRING TOUGH PANTS! Or you will get shredded up. Trail is not very maintained on the Y-Bar side (though it was recently trimmed up to the AZ trail marker coming from the Barnhardt trailhead).

hiking
Tuesday, September 06, 2016

We only went in about 3 miles as we were not really prepped for a long 2-day hike. But, it was truly fabulous and I can't wait to do this hike properly!

Good workout but not very scenic and trail is super rocky.

Monday, June 20, 2016

One Hell of a hike. Ran out of water half way back and temps were much hotter in the wilderness than in Payson. Wow, a serious hike and not for beginners or unprepared hikers. Camped at the creek! Definitely worth the near death experience.

hiking
Monday, May 30, 2016

Great hike! Easy to get off trail at bottom so keep your eyes wide open.

hiking
Sunday, November 15, 2015

Super pretty but a tough hike. But way worth it.

hiking
Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Have not taken the full trail but used it for hunting. It has a very beautiful view of the Mazatzal Mountains and has a magnificent sunset at times.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

A nice trail, very bumpy and a nice mountain biking trail with a seasonal creek. But lots of break-offs.

Load More