STEWART POCKET IN GILA COUNTY, ARIZONA

Located in the Granite Dells of Payson, AZ, the Stewart Pocket area may very well rival Sedona for it scenic beauty. Flanked by Stewart Ridge on the South and the Mogollon Rim on the north it not only contains the amazing boulder formations of Granite Dells, but numerous peaks or knolls, many topped by pink rocks, and many perfect cones and plenty steep (most noteworthy is Monument Peak). Add a year round stream (Stewart) weeping springs, an active riparian habitat and this area is a magnet for wildlife.

 

If you like hiking, this OFF TRAIL loop shows off the best of the area. It goes by a car-size balancing rock and a truck size boulder where the wash goes underneath. This loop uses parts of the PATS Cypress, Boulders, and Monument Peak trails and connects them all so trail length can be increased substantially if so desired. 

The area is not only known for awesome mountain biking and hiking but also it is an amazing place for rock climbing.  Stewart Pocket is a nice area with good climbing on mostly solid granite in a scenic location near Payson, AZ. It is fairly undeveloped, so there are a lot of potential FA's waiting to be done.

 
Access Points

Photo Credit:  Cameron Davis

From the Beeline Highway & 260 intersection in Payson, take 260 east for about 1/2 mile and turn right onto Granite Dells Rd. Follow it roughly south for 1.2 miles paved, then continue on a dirt road for another 2.4 miles" until the road ends at a just before a large wash. Proceed south to the dozens of rock formations across the wash.  See trail info below.

Rock Climbing

Photo Credit:  Cameron Davis

Stewart Pocket is an undeveloped recreation and climbing area, located a couple miles southeast of Payson (Arizona) along East Granite Dells Road.  As the name implies, it is a scenic basin (pocket) surrounded by granite towers, boulders, domes and ridges. Average elevation within the pocket is 5,000 feet (1524 meters) above sea level.

It's also substantially forested, and lies within the Tonto National Forest on an elevational belt or biotic community called a life zone. Stewart Pocket is nestled in what is called the Pinyon pine/Juniper Woodland, a life zone existing between 4,000'-7,300' in
the state of Arizona. Below are several unofficial TRAD Routes in the Stewart Pocket.

Click here to see videos of the area (Courtesy Arizona From Air).

 
Hiking Trails

Cypress-Boulders Loop


Located in the Granite Dells area southeast of town of Payson, this mildly challenging hike is perfect hike with a sense of adventure and moderate stamina. The route explores the diverse terrain of Stewart Pocket with edgy ascents, dips into water-whittle gullies and meanders among bizarre lumps of sculpted granite. Scrub oak and junipers provide patches of shade for rest stops and water breaks.

LENGTH: 7.3 miles round trip

RATING: Moderate

ELEVATION: 4485’- 4932’

 

GETTING THERE:

Boulders Trailhead: Go 3.3 miles on Granite Dells Road (which will turn into FR435 after 1.3 miles) and park at the Monument Peak trailhead on the left just before a roadblock. From here, hike down to the roadblock on FR435 and hike 0.5 mile (crossing 3 concrete bridges) to the deep gully on the left. Continue another 0.25 mile down FR435 and follow the ATV track across the gorge, then hike up to the PATS sign on top of the embankment.
 

Cypress Trailhead: From the State Route 87/260 junction in Payson go right and follow SR 260 less than a mile to Granite Dells Road on the right just past the Safeway. Continue 1.9 miles on Granite Dells to a small easy-to-miss sign for Cypress Trail. There’s no official parking area, just find a spot along the road being mindful of the private driveways in the area.

For more hiking trails in the area click here.

Photo Credit:  Cameron Davis

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking in Arizona doesn't get any better than the Stewart Pocket, just outside of Payson, Arizona.  Surrounded by huge outcroppings of granite boulders, this area is a Mountain Bikers dream.  It has several technical areas but most of it is just pristine single track old ATV trails that go for miles.

200 Mountain Bike Trailhead:

To access the trailhead, head down Phoenix Street to Gibson Ct., where you'll be able to park near the start of the Doubletrack. Ride 100 yards up the doubletrack, and look hard to the left for the trail. If you reach a significant doubletrack climb, you've gone too far. 

From here, your singletrack adventure begins. The trail goes up, and down, with some hard, tight loose turns. There are plenty of technical rock sections to keep you on your toes. After a little while, you'll come to a hard right where you'll meet the first steep climb. Once on the other side, it's all down on a tight and technical downhill. 

After a few hundred yards when you see lots of big boulders on the left, pay attention for a very hidden right hand turn. This trail is lollipop shaped, and this area is where the "candy" part of the ride begins. You'll start out on a climb which will take you across a technical trail section. From there, you'll complete the loop with a downhill, which will spit you out just about 100 yards from where you started the climb. This completes the loop, and you'll just need to head back out along the "stick" to make your way back to your vehicle. 

Follow the trail up over a tough technical rock and continue on, keeping left all the way to where you started. If you get onto one of the wrong trails and end up back on Phoenix St., just ride up the road back to Gibson Ct, where you parked.  For more mountain bike trails in the area click here.

Photo Credit:  Cameron Davis