Friday, June 28, 2019

Horton Springs Trail, Arizona

Earlier in June I took the beautiful Horton Springs Trail from near Kohl's Ranch, Arizona, just below the Mogollon Rim.  I'd done it before, and loved it, but this time I was training for Mt Humphreys, so I went all the way up the Rim and back down, making a loop with the Highline and Derrick trails.

Horton Creek
My trip stats:

Total distance (including my meandering, exploring, and getting lost):  17.1 km / 10.6 miles

Total elevation gain:  1086 meters / 3563 feet

Highest elevation:  2413 meters /  7917 feet above sea level

Difficulty:  Mostly easy to Horton Springs, with a bit of a climb toward the end and a bit of rock scrambling if you explore the creek.  Past Horton Springs, the trail is steep, exposed to the sun, and sometimes difficult to follow.  Having reliable GPS with an offline map is a good idea.  At minimum, carry a good paper topo map and don't stray far from one cairn until you can see the nextBecause of the lay of the land, you probably won't get dangerously lost (unless it's hot and you don't have enough water), but you might make things long, prickly, and unpleasant for yourself.  

Pictures don't really capture the panoramic views from the trail above Horton Springs
If you just go to Horton Springs and back:

Total distance: About 11.2 km / 7 miles  (but add some distance, time, and elevation for exploring the creek and the unofficial trails along it).  If you only want to go partway, it's a great hike for that.  You start seeing the creek after about 10-15 minutes on the trail, though the really pretty stuff begins at more like 20-30 minutes in.    

Total elevation gain:  384 meters / 1260 feet

Highest elevation:  2068 meters / 6785 feet above sea level

I saw lots of these beauties flowering this trip.  Not sure what they are. Claret cup?  

At Upper Tonto Creek Campground, near Kohl's Ranch, which is northeast of Payson on highway 260..  Your turnoff heads north of the highway, and also leads to Tonto Creek Hatchery and Lower Tonto campground.  Parking is available at the Derrick trailhead or past the Upper Tonto Creek Campground (across the little bridge).  

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