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Hiking Trails In Gila County, Arizona

One of the best adventure opportunities in all of Arizona is exploring the hundreds of hiking trails in Gila County. From the trails along the Mogollon Rim through the Hells Gate Wilderness all the way through to the Pinal Mountains make the County one of the best hiking destinations in all of the American Southwest.

Adventures from around the country run to the mountains each year to see incredible views, running rivers, and the beautiful lakes scattered throughout the area. Keep scrolling to see some of the best hikes in each hiking district throughout Gila County.


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.

A few of our favorite hiking trails in the area:

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

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>>

Horton Creek Trail 285

This is the most popular day hike in the area. Horton Spring is an unusually large spring. Water literally gushes from the side of the rim supplying Horton Creek. Think of the Rim as a huge sponge and Horton Spring is the faucet. The Trails starts from the parking area cross the concrete bridge. Continue on the pavement up the hill heading towards the campgrounds. The trailhead is on the left side of this road. Read More

Difficulty Level: Easy

Find more hiking trails in the Payson Ranger District Area.


The Pleasant Valley Ranger District is located on all four sides of the town of Young, and it continues north to the Mogollon Rim and east to the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. The district consists of approximately 420,000 acres (approximately 170,000 hectares) of Chaparral, Pinyon-Juniper, as well as significant areas of scattered Ponderosa Pine-Juniper types of vegetation. Recreationalist enjoy the hiking trails, fishing opportunities, and horseback riding. Pleasant Valley is popular because of its proximity to Young, and its easy access of a quick summer get away.

Deep Creek Trail #128 is a 4.66 mile one way hike with 1,150 feet accumulated elevation gain. Located 54 miles east-northeast of Mesa Arizona. October and April are the best months to enjoy this hike. This trail provides nice hiking and passes through a chaparral grassland basin with fine views of the bluffs of the Sierra Ancha Mountains. Difficulty: Easy

This is an out-n-back 3.5 mile hike on Jug Trail #61 to Salome Creek. Salome Creek is a major drainage for the Sierra Ancha range. The Jug is the narrow section of Salome Creek just before it widens after Dutchwoman Butte. Dutchwoman Butte looms to your right. The jug lies in the area below this butte. With that in mind it's easy to get an idea as to where you are headed. Warning - EXTREME WILD Read More.

Difficulty: More Difficult

From the road closure barrier at FR487 near the Falls camp ground you begin a steady ascent of close to 500 feet taking you to the lip of Workman Creek Waterfall at mile 0.65. Continue along FR487 climbing another 500 feet until you reach the Carr Trail Head at mile 1.58. Congratulations... you've just completed one of the more aerobic sections of the hike.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Find more hiking trails in the Pleasant Valley Ranger District Area.


The Tonto Basin Ranger District is located northwest of Globe and south of Payson. The district consists of approximately 530,000 acres (approximately 210,000 hectares) of Desert, Semi-Desert Grassland, Chaparral types of vegetation, as well as a few scattered areas of Ponderosa Pine. Roosevelt Lake (the largest lake totally within Arizona) and Apache Lake are within this district.

Watershed is one of the most important reasons that the Tonto National Forest was established. Since then, the Salt and Verde rivers have had six dams constructed. While the dammed water is of great value for irrigating fields and for domestic use, it is also very popular with thousands of people who recreate in its waters every year.

Water recreation ranges from the simple to the sophisticated. Some activities require highly mechanized equipment, while other popular activities only require a swimming suit. Whatever your preferences, the Tonto National Forest has plenty to offer when it comes to water recreation. There are also commercial partners who provide a variety of water-based recreation opportunities.

There is a small pull-off on FR 201 about 1.5 miles before Peeley Trailhead. This is the trailhead, even if there is no sign or marking for the start. A small footpath heads east from the pull-off and weaves around various bushes, slowly dropping down the top of a ridgeline. There is plenty of deadfall and overgrowth in this section, so just try to avoid dropping too far in either direction. Near 0.4 miles the tread twists left off the ridge and enters a nice stand of pines with well-defined tread.

Difficulty: Moderate

A quick hike from the Oak Flat Trailhead (3650 ft) to the northern section of the Four Peaks Trail #130 (5400 ft). This hike takes off from the Oak Flat Trailhead in typical mid-zone vegetation. Distant views of the Four Peaks lure you in. Cairns help direct you across a ravine and onto the show. Enjoy the first short level section as once you start ascending it's game on. Difficulty: Most Difficult

The Three Bar Wildlife Enclosure is a fenced wildlife study area operated by Arizona Game and Fish. The proximity of two recreation sites provides ample parking should you want to cool off in Roosevelt Lake after your ride. Scenery includes the riparian habitat associated with Roosevelt Lake and watershed as well as chaparral vegetation.

Difficulty: Moderate

Find more hiking trails in the Tonto Basin Ranger District Area.


The Globe Ranger District is located north, south, and west of the city of Globe, and borders both the Fort Apache and San Carlos Indian Reservations. It is located at the “Bottom,” of the forest, being the district that is furthest south. The district consists of approximately 450,000 acres (approximately 182,000 hectares) of Desert, Chaparral, and Pinyon-Juniper types of vegetation, as well as a small area of Ponderosa Pine. The Upper Salt River flows through much of this district. The Globe district of Tonto National Forest is notable for the horseback riding and hiking opportunities. There are many amazing trails available that offer a genuine desert-landscape scenery.

The East Mountain Trail follows the ridge line of East Mountain, on the eastern side of the Pinal Mountains, near Globe. Beginning at Pioneer Pass Trailhead below Pinal Peak, begin following an old jeep road uphill to the east. A splintered wooden trail sign soon lets you know that you are on the East Mountain Trail #214. After a short time, the road becomes a trail, and enters the pine forest of upper Pinal Creek canyon. The trail proceeds to climb higher on the north slope of the ridge through ponderosa pines and plentiful gambel oaks. There are some good views of Pinal Peak to the west in this area.

Difficulty: More Difficult

The Kellner Canyon Trail, like the others in the area, disguises a real workout with relaxing beauty. All of the trails generally start at the same 4500' elevation trailhead and finish near the top of the mountain at over 7500'. Of the four main trails, this one does top out a little further west than the others on FR651 at only about 7200'. These trails are also popular with mountain bikers.

Difficulty: Easy

When the creek flows, small waterfalls can be seen along the trail at several locations. The trail is a continual climb through several life zones showing changes in vegetation. The trail offers splendid views of Miami/Globe and the surrounding area.

Difficulty Level: Difficult

Find more hiking trails in the Globe Ranger District Area.

Remember that as the weather begins to cool and the mountains begin to call your name again, it is still crucial to hike with a buddy, where proper shoes, bring proper nutrition & hydration and pack out whatever you pack in!

View our "Staying Alive Guide" for more important information.

Always make sure to check with the local National Forest information center before visiting an area to understand of any closures, fire restrictions or other important information.

As always tag us in your adventure on any social media channels using the hashtag #DiscoverGilaCounty.

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