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The Payson Ranger District is located on all four side of the town of Payson, and continues north to the Mogollon Rim. It consists of approximately 450,000 acres (approximately 182,000 hectares) of Chaparral, Pinyon-Juniper, and Ponderosa Pine types of vegetation. The Verde River and several trout streams pass through this district. The Payson Ranger District is notable for its campgrounds, hiking trails, and fishing opportunities.

This District operates differently than the rest of the forest. The Tonto Pass is not valid on the Payson Ranger District. Day-use and camping fee sites on the Payson Ranger District are managed by the concessionaire located at Houston Mesa Campground.


Contact Information:

Address: 1009 E. Highway 260, Payson, Arizona 85541
Phone: (928) 474-7900
Fax: (928) 474-7966

Payson Trails- Top

Click Letter for Listing in Alphabetical Order

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Abert Nature Trail 3

The Abert Natural Trail was named after the Abert Squirrel that makes its home in the Ponderosa pines. This squirrel is also called a tassel-eared squirrel because their tassels are very distinct during the colder parts of the year, but almost disappear during the summer months. This trail is a self-guided trail utilizing a brochure to explain the forest environment of this area. To obtain this brochure, contact the Campground Host at the Ponderosa Campground.

Difficulty Level: Easy


Arizona Trail - Highline Trail

East from the Pine Trailhead the trail climbs two long, gentle switchbacks ending at an open area overlooking the eastern front of the Mazatzal Range. Working its way east along the Highline Trail (#31), it skirts the southern edge of Milk Ranch Point, passes a nice camping site at Red Rock Spring and crosses Webber Creek at the Geronimo Trailhead.   Read More

Difficulty Level: Moderate


Babe Haught Trail 143

This trail, built by Babe Haught and his brother, was used to pack crops and supplies in and out of Winslow. There are great views of the surrounding valley and mountains. Fire is an important aspect of the wild environment. The "Dude Fire” of 1990 burned this area; thus, it is an ideal place to observe how our forests rejuvenate themselves after a fire.

Difficulty Level: Most Difficult


Bear Foot Trail

Bear Foot Trail is a 5.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Pine, Arizona that features beautiful wild flowers. The trail is rated as moderate and is primarily used for hiking and mountain biking. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Difficulty:  Easy  |  Watch Video>>


Barnhardt Trail 43

Scenic but with long uphill grades. One of the heaviest-used trails in the Mazatzal Wilderness.  At the end of the trail there is a very cool waterfall.  Best chance to catch water flowing is in the spring or late fall.  Amazing views the the valley and the northern Rim Country.

Difficulty:  Moderate  |  Watch Video>>


Bear Flat Trail 178

An old jeep trail that is very easy to follow, the first quarter mile after leaving the Bear Flat Trailhead is steep, but passing through an unexpected grove of mixed conifer rewards the visitor.

Difficulty:  Easy to Difficult


Brody Seep Trail 264

1.5 miles long. Chilson Camp is located on this trail. Elevation:
5,400 - 6,000 feet.


No more than 15 people are allowed to be in a group. No more than 15 head of livestock are allowed in a group.

Difficulty:  Moderate


Brush Trail 249

This is a short connector between two longer trails of the Mazatzals, Bull Spring and Red Hills, and its full length is well-maintained and part of the Arizona Trail. Its relatively short length makes it easy to blink and miss for thru-hikers. Starting halfway-up the climb from East Verde River towards the heights of Knob Mountain, Brush Trail offers some excellent views of the northern end wilderness and beyond.

Difficulty:  Easy


Bull Spring Trail 34

Bull Spring Trail #34 is a 7 mile round trip hike with 1,304 feet accumulated elevation gain. April and March are the best months to enjoy this hike.  Courtesy

Difficulty:  Easy to Moderate


Colonel Devin Trail 290 and Railroad Tunnel Trail

Fort Whipple military personnel used a trail in this location on a maneuver to find renegade Apaches; the trail was named after Colonel Thomas C. Devin who led this group. In the early 1880`s, the Arizona Mineral Belt Railroad made plans to cash in on the need for transportation of ore from Globe to the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad in Flagstaff.  Read More

Difficulty:  Most Difficult


Deadman Mesa Trail 17

Located in the northern part of the Mazatzal Wilderness area. Parts are rocky and very steep. Portions of trail in Fossil Creek may be washed out. The condition of the trail varies from satisfactory to very poor. Not recommended for horses.  Courtesy

Difficulty:  Difficult


Derrick Spur Trail 32

This trail winds through a cool Ponderosa pine forest. Spring brings many wildflowers. Autumn showcases breathtaking fall foliage.  The trail begins near the junction of State Highway 260 and Forest Road (FR) 289. Look for a cattle guard. The trail starts at the fence; walk through. Derrick Spur Trail traverses small hills but travel is easy. This trail offers an alternative access to the Derrick Trail 33.

Difficulty:  Easy


Derrick Trail 33

An all-day loop hike is possible by taking Derrick Trail and Highline Trail, then going north on Highline Trail 31 to Horton Spring: Follow Horton Creek Trail 285 back to Upper Tonto Campground. Both Horton Creek and Tonto Creek have trout.  The trail begins at the eastern end of the campground. Once on the trail, travel until you pass through a gate. When through the gate, make a sharp right turn. Follow this trail past the Derrick Spur Trail 32 junction and onto the Highline Trail 31.

Difficulty:  More Difficult


Drew Trail 291

This is an old pioneer trail built by the Drew family. The Drews homesteaded around Sharp Creek and constructed this trail to Winslow prior to 1909. This trail weaves its way through Ponderosa pine.