IN GILA COUNTY, ARIZONA
Get ready for some jeepin' and OHV action on Northern Gila County's most notorious trail along the creek bottom of Pyeatt Draw, about 20 miles outside of Payson, Arizona.
This dry trail bed which is parallel to an easy Forest Road is full of some of the best Jeep and OHV rock climbing euphoria around. Only hardcore vehicles will make it past “The Filter” at the end of the trail.
This is not an easy trail, in fact it ranks a full on 10 out of 10 on the hard meter. So make sure you are prepared and that your equipment is ready for such an adventure.
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How to Get There
Coming from Payson, head north on Highway 87. After the second roundabout, turn right onto Houston Mesa Rd. Follow this northeast for 4.8 miles. Stay right onto F.R. 198. After an additional 4.5 miles, Pyeatt Draw begins in the wide creek bottom on your right. Many of the locals call the "cheater’s road" a small forest road on the right shortly after the creek bed. If you’re coming from Highway 260 or Control Road, head west on F.R. 64 for 5.4 miles. Turn left onto F.R. 198. Follow this for 3.9 miles. Easy line is small forest road on the left just before the wide, creek bottom which is the hardcore entrance.
Head south from F.R. 198 in the creek bottom. Stay to the left in the creek where a side road climbs out to the right. After 800 feet, the trail crosses over an easy forest road. Things quickly get challenging with off-camber sections. The creek turns right and straightens out to head east. Stay to the left to follow easier line. Things gets slightly easier as you pick the best line through the creek bottom.
Cross over the forest road again just after 1.1 miles, and again just after 1.2 miles. Last chance to exit before “the filter”. The line through the creek becomes more defined before coming to “the filter” at 1.6 miles. Only hardcore vehicles will make it up this challenging obstacle. The “easier” line is to the left up the slick rock. The hardest line is straight up the middle. If you look closely, you can see the lines which are marked with rubber marks on the rock. Turn around at “the filter” or if you make it through, the hardcore trail ends at the forest road just after 1.7 miles.
Taking the "Cheater's Line"
If you aren’t up to a hardcore trail, or just feel like an easy drive, take the forest road that parallels the hardcore Pyeatt Draw Trail. This trail starts just east of Pyeatt Draw along F.R. 198. Head south on forest road. After 300 feet, cross over the creek bottom. The road parallels Pyeatt Draw with occasional overlooks and crossings.
Cross over Pyeatt Draw at 1.0 miles and again at 1.1 miles. Park at 1.5 miles and hike short distance north to see “the filter”. This can be a fun spot to sit and watch if people are running the trail. It is easiest and quickest to turn around and return via the way you came. An alternate route continues east but becomes more difficult and route finding is tough. If you take this way, make sure to have high-clearance and 4WD. An important left turn roughly 2.0 miles after the end of Pyeatt Draw takes you back to F.R. 198 and F.R. 64.
The hardcore line is less than 4 miles roundtrip, but could take 1-3 hours depending on how large your group is. Expect to be crawling and stopping for most of the trail. We’ve rated the hardcore line ‘10’ out of ‘10’, since you’ll need a heavily modified vehicle to make the entire trail. Vehicles with tires bigger than 33s, a substantial lift, lockers, skid plates, and a winch can do a lot of this trail with careful driving. Travel in a group and carry recovery equipment for the best experience. The easy line is a basic forest road that just about any SUV can complete if they want to come along on this trip. Continuing past the end of Pyeatt Draw requires high-clearance and 4WD. If you’re just out scouting the trail on the easy line and the alternate exit, expect to spend an hour or two on the trail.
Portions of information for this page was provided by: https://azoffroad.net