Explore the most popular nature trips 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.


Couldn’t find the trail at all??! Parked at mile marker 271, descended through the wooded area, past some fire pits, and went under the fence. I even met a family hiking their way back out, they said I was on the right path and to look for a giant arrow. But shortly after, the trail just....stopped? I didn’t see an arrow or even a clue as to what direction to take. I went all the way up the hill to the far right to look down and around, and I couldn’t see anything. The photos are so beautiful, would love to try again some time. Can anyone please help me out and tell me where I went wrong???

Parking filled up pretty quickly, but considering it was a perfect fall day, it was easy to see why. The 1140' elevation gain over 4+ miles was very doable even for a 51yo not used to the altitude. A little splash of fall foliage along the creek among the pines was a nice touch. Loved being able to listen to the water for the whole hike and climb around the spring at the end. A little rocky, a little dirt, overall a fabulous hike!

Excellent trail, though I made a few modifications.
Went clockwise and was surprised how easy the Y-Bar trail was to follow after my last bushwhacking adventure in Deer Creek.
Note: at about 4.5 miles and after making it up over the 6’300’ elevation ridge I noticed that I had gone off track while following an obvious trail. I chose to backtrack to the point where you’re supposed to descend towards the Y-Bar basin. I spent 5 minutes looking for a fork in the trail and couldn’t find a way down...so I decided to follow the obvious trail which kept me closer to Mazatzal Peak. It’s possible that the original trail is completely overgrown...so prepare for a bushwhacking/pathfinding adventure if you want to do the trail as the map suggests!
On the way to Barnhardt Trail my gps wanted to lead me off trail again, but I chose to follow the obvious trail and that worked. I chose to follow Barnhardt Trail all the way down, though my map suggested going down through a wash instead.
I ended up clocking about 16 miles and 3,200’ elevation change...and the trail suggests 4,000’ elevation change which I believe might be true if following the gps closer instead of the trails I took.
Great adventure, and the waterfall on Barnhardt Trail wad running after all the recent rain!

4 days ago

Kind of dumb to rate a trail 1 star because of forest closures. But whatever. Short hike, on a hot day will still kick your butt a little. Water is really murky this time of year from monsoon runoff

5 days ago

Excellent and easy hike! Very lush forest, peaceful creek you walk through a few times and beautiful scenery every where. It was cloudy when we went and I was afraid the clouds would let loose any time, which it didn't, but it really provided some nice shade for us. There is camping nearby (tent) and an outhouse. Just a short dirt road to the trailhead. You will see the creek at the beginning of the hike and follow it sometimes as well. Family friendly and relaxing. Highly recommend this hike!

Pretty easy going up to the spring, but past that it can be challenging to stay on the main trail due to overgrowth and limited use. Also, that last leg to Rim Road is rather steep and rocky. Nice views near the top though. Saw some elk to the side of the trail on the way out around dusk, then a deer as I drove from the trailhead out to the highway.

11 days ago

This was a great easy hike. We went in October, after A LOT of rain and the stream was running loudly. It was a truly sensory experience, the air was cool and crisp, it smelled so good and sweet, the stream was rushing noisily. The ground was soft from recent rains, so the ground was soft, but it really wasn't slippery muddy. It's a great trail for exploring because you can venture somewhat here and there away from the trail. There is a lovely memorial to the three year old who was killed along with many members of her family in 2017 when a storm hit, causing a flash flood that swept away several members of a family. When we finished the downstream trail, we turned around and walked upstream-both ways were pretty awesome.

Super easy trail. It's pretty with almost panoramic views. The only issue I have is that you can hear traffic and if you walk far enough, you end up just outside of someone's backyard.

Really enjoyed this trail. The runoff from rains here recently added a lot of character to the trail. What is usually a dry wash was at times knee deep of fast moving water today.

Driving to it is a little rough even though through neighborhoods. In all honesty without the water features the recent rains provided this would probably be a 3-4 vs a 4-5.

This was a beautiful and easy hike. Completed it with a group ages 8-42 and everyone did great. Ended up picking a day in July that was perfect. Cloudy with rolling thunder and a light sprinkle made this hike through the pines absolutely beautiful. Take some snacks or lunch and enjoy it while eating next to the creek.

Trail was easy. Just rained so had to cross cross a lot of streams. Nice walk with amazing boulders and didn’t even make it to the end. (Too much water)

Great trail, very scenic. I did the trail counter clockwise but would do it clockwise next time with fresh legs. Y Bar trail is rough and rocky and was a little overgrown when I went threw. Plenty of cairns to follow though. I logged 15.8 miles.

Beautiful! We brought our kids on it and they did great. Our youngest was 2 and he had no problem at all.

23 days ago

Hiked this on 9/15 with my wife and almost 3 year old son and our large dog. Amazing family fun and easy to access even with a small child. Had him hold a hand at all times since the terrain is rocky and uneven. The stream was very calm when we went, but still plenty of opportunity to wade in the cool water. Not a long hike, but lots of up and down over the terrain so make sure to bring plenty of water if its hot. Great place to pack in lunch and just enjoy the moment. Definitely worth checking out if you are in the area. The Tonto Forrest is a special place and we will certainly be back to this cool little trail.

Challenging trail!
The first 2-3 miles are pretty easy, then the trail gets hard to follow and crosses the creek several times.
A fair bit of boulder hopping and some up and down. I made the mistake of paying too much attention to my map and gps instead of the excellent cairns. Lost the trail a few times and did a bit of bushwhacking...but I did see several deer and hear even more.
I turned around at 4.9 miles so I would have enough water to get back, and paid more attention to the cairns going back which made the hike a bit easier.
5 stars for the deer and wild factor, not so many for the trail which was moderately difficult to follow even with all the cairns.
Next time I’ll use my eyes and brain more and my phone less - and bring more than 4 liters of water because that was only barely enough for my 10 mile round trip.

1 month ago

Great views and excellent directions, as provided in previous reviews. Decent flow of water considering the time of year. Water was still plenty cold, but slightly murky. Keep in mind when deciding to swim the rate of flow- just upstream is private property who keep cattle that have direct access to the stream...

1 month ago

1 month 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.

A very nice hike. Was a challenge for my aging body. My app set the distance at 7 miles without adding the short hike to the spring. It was straight up to the top of the rim. No spectacular views from the sperspective at the top. But beautiful coming up the canyon. In September the temperature was 90 by mid morning but it was a lot cooler up at the top. The trail is well marked with reflectors on the trees. The second half of the climb is steep and rocky. Coming down there were sections that felt like skiing down the scree.

1 month 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!

This trail was recommended by a woman who lives in Payson so I had a feeling i would like this one. It was harder and longer than the rating on here but my friend and I hike often so we could handle it, just didn’t expect it. There was hardly anyone on the trail and many parts were grown over. This was great but also made it hard to find the trail so a few times we got lost then had to turn around and figure out how to get back RJ the trail.

The last 2ish miles are VERY steep so you need to watch your step (I didn’t and slipped down the side landing on my wrist) and bring poles if you’re prone to slipping or babe bad ankles or knees. I wear an ankle brace so that helped during my fall.

Overall, I loved this green, peaceful, unique trail. It reminded me so much of Minnesota in the summer. We heard tons of birds, saw a baby tarantula, saw many lizards, and the view at the top is beautiful. It took us 4 hours to complete 10 miles per Fitbit.

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

1 month 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'

1 month 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)

off road driving
1 month 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.

1 month 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


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