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  1. #1
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    Payson Area / Tonto Forrest trail suggestions

    I have a place in Kohls Ranch and I'm looking for good riding in the area. I've been up Horton Creek which is a fun ride, but too short. I would like to be able to connect a minimum of 15 miles of trail and would be happy pushing it further. I've also been told to go to the 260 TH and ride Highline to See Canyon but was forewarned that Highline from See Canyon to Derrick or Horton was a little tough. I'm not looking for easy, but I don't want miles of hike-a-bike either.

    Any other suggestions? Up on the rim would be good too.

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  3. #3
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    I did a ride from 260 to the fish hatchery last year, starting down Military Sinkhole Tr. Most of that ride was pretty good though conditions did vary. The section of Highline between Derrick and Horton is tough, quite a bit of HAB and some downed trees. Not miles of HAB, but a few sections of a few hundred feet each. You could do the same ride but drop down Derrick.

    The section of Highline east from Washington Park is being rebuilt and is a nice out and back. Schillingsworth rode it recently, I think it goes 8-9 miles out now so that will get you your 15+mi ride. There is also AZT up top beyond the Cabin Loop. Some of it is rumored to be fun, some not so much. There are some interesting rides over toward Show Low and Pinetop-Lakeside I've been wanting to check out. If you don't mind some driving I'd check them out too. Trailforks app is a good resource if you don't already have it.

    Here's my TR from last year: http://forums.mtbr.com/arizona/tr-pi...a-1047680.html

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    Good suggestions. Lots of good info in that TR @evdog!

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    washington park, head east on the highline for 8 or 9 miles for an out and back.

    hands down, the best trail up here, imo.

    or, shuttle to 260 and ride out to derrick. i never HAB on to Horton, but some do. Derrick is terrible, but it's only a couple miles of terrible. The section on 260 from the gate to See canyon is a sweet enduro. (FAST!!)

    I ride horton, out and back a couple times a week after work. It's cool when absolutely everything else is hot.

    Also, jump on to the bearfoot in strawberry, and ride on to pine trail head, then have a pizza at the wood fired grill. worth it just for the pizza.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by deerkiller View Post
    washington park, head east on the highline for 8 or 9 miles for an out and back.

    hands down, the best trail up here, imo.
    So, start at the west end of Highline and go east it sounds like? I've hiked Highline from the Fish Hatchery going west and I don't recall it being unrideable. Have you ever ridden from the Fish Hatchery going west to WP?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Santana SS View Post
    So, start at the west end of Highline and go east it sounds like? I've hiked Highline from the Fish Hatchery going west and I don't recall it being unrideable. Have you ever ridden from the Fish Hatchery going west to WP?
    i haven't. i always start in washington park. i've recently discovered this trail, and then they closed the forrest.

    i've ridden from washington park to the second gate and back, or thereabout, a few times. (14 mile round trip) my buddy told me the trail is primo for 9 miles,(18 miles trip) so i'm not sure if that takes you all the way to the hatchery or not.

    i'll have to check that out. the forrest is open, so no worries now.

  8. #8
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    Hey evdog, thanks for posting that awesome TR, wish I would have noticed it a few days ago.

    I just returned from a quick solo trip to the Cabin Loops area. Didn't really have a lot of beta on what I was doing, just kind of winged it. Camped right on the Houston Bros trail a few hundred yards from it's start on the FR360. They were doing controlled burn(s) west of the loops area so the air could be kinda mucky depending on the wind. Anyhow with your TR I'm definitely going back soon to check out some more stuff.

  9. #9
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    Here is a map of Pine trails. The only trail not available to ride is Snow-white in the Southwest corner of map.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by 90minIPA View Post
    Here is a map of Pine trails. The only trail not available to ride is Snow-white in the Southwest corner of map.
    What is the current status of Walnut Trail?

    Last time I rode out there a couple years ago it was an overgrown mess that was impossible to follow. We ended up going straight down the canyon which turned out interesting..

    Payson Area / Tonto Forrest trail suggestions-13263835_10154227871572803_4790323552208136518_n.jpg

    Payson Area / Tonto Forrest trail suggestions-13254596_10154228766437803_5089517740088625043_n.jpg

  11. #11
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    I donít know anyone who rides walnut. I carried my bike through it about 8 years ago or so.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by deerkiller View Post
    washington park, head east on the highline for 8 or 9 miles for an out and back.

    .
    Looking to go back to this area next week and would like to give this section a try.

    I'm looking at the Highline passage #26 section . From what I can tell if you head east from Washington Park area it quickly heads up on to the Rim, at least that's what I can make out on google maps. It's part of the AZT, no? Does it actually head towards the fish hatchery?

    Update:
    Never mind...I see on another map is leaves the AZT and continues east to Horton Creek / Fish Hatchery. I think I'll camp at Upper Tonto CC (or nearby dispersed camping) and try riding up HCT then heading west on Highline.

  13. #13
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    Walnut is still a mess. We spent mucho hours looking at possible reroutes/new trail... And came to the conclusion that it would take more $ than it is worth at this point. Our "Snowwhite" track (2.2 miles) will connect to Oak Springs completing our circle of Pine. AZ Trails is working on Oak Springs. Hopefully, these are completed in the next year. Our fall race "Fire On The Rim" is our big fund raiser.. come on up and race... All $ above costs goes to building trail.

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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 90minIPA View Post
    Walnut is still a mess. We spent mucho hours looking at possible reroutes/new trail... And came to the conclusion that it would take more $ than it is worth at this point. Our "Snowwhite" track (2.2 miles) will connect to Oak Springs completing our circle of Pine. AZ Trails is working on Oak Springs. Hopefully, these are completed in the next year.
    This is fantastic news!! Thanks for the update.

    Re: Highline. The entire length is 50 miles, about 1/2 of it is prime for riding, the other 1/2 will leave you frustrated. The good stuff isn't all continuous. IMO, the rideable sections are: From the east end, Two Sixty TH to the Derrick Trail. Great stuff and the preferred direction. The Section between Derrick & Horton Springs still needs a bit of work, it's not horrible, but there is some HAB in there. You can descend Derrick trail & climb Horton Springs trail to rejoin Highline at the spring. Highline between Horton Spring and the Fish Hatchery is good riding. I'd probably avoid the section of Highline between the Hatchery and where the recent trail work has stopped east of Washington Park. Not sure on the mileage there, maybe 8-10 miles?? The 9 miles east of Washington Park are really nice, here's a recent ride report.

    At Washington Park the AZT turns north and climbs up the rim. This trail has also recently been rerouted. It's now on the Colonel Devin trail alignment. Check it out, take it about 1 mile north from the WP trailhead and flip it.

    The Highline between Washington Park and Pine is a real mixed bag. That's the AZT overlap. There are some good sections in there, but mostly a ton of HAB. It's not really ready for primetime riding. The only time it really gets tires on it is during the AZTR750.

    The 2 miles of Highline around the Pine trailhead are good, up until the Donahue trail. So, it's good to use for any local Pine riding.

    As for Pine, it's mostly really good riding. The Pine Loop, is almost complete. As 90min posted above, only the SW corner of the loop needs to be finished. The Pine-Strawberry trail, Bearfoot, Pine Canyon & Pine View trails are fantastic. Support the Fire on the Rim race to expedite trail construction!!

    Some other ride reports that may be of use:
    Pine: Good, Bad & Ugly

    Friday, Pine Day

    Two Sixty to Pine: Highline Control

    Pine: Fire on the Rim (Walnut Trail)

    Pine: Donahue Did It

    Bikepacking101: Cabin Loops

    Highline Trail (AZT portion)
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  15. #15
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    Awesome thanks for that info that really helps. I want to ride from 260 TH maybe down Derrick, up Horton to the Hatchery, down the road home to my cabin in Kohls Ranch. That all sounds doable. I just need to get a shuttle to the 260 TH.

    Quote Originally Posted by schillingsworth View Post
    Re: Highline. The entire length is 50 miles, about 1/2 of it is prime for riding, the other 1/2 will leave you frustrated. The good stuff isn't all continuous. IMO, the rideable sections are: From the east end, Two Sixty TH to the Derrick Trail. Great stuff and the preferred direction. The Section between Derrick & Horton Springs still needs a bit of work, it's not horrible, but there is some HAB in there. You can descend Derrick trail & climb Horton Springs trail to rejoin Highline at the spring. Highline between Horton Spring and the Fish Hatchery is good riding. I'd probably avoid the section of Highline between the Hatchery and where the recent trail work has stopped east of Washington Park. Not sure on the mileage there, maybe 8-10 miles?? The 9 miles east of Washington Park are really nice,

  16. #16
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    If riding a loop of Horton Creek trail / Highline / fish hatchery / and Zane Grey road, based from the southern start of Horton Creek near the day picnic site is there a preferred route either CC or CCW? On paper I would think the most fun direction would be to ride the road up, then over to, and down Horton. However I'm not familiar with the Highline section between Tonto Creek and Horton.

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    Santana SS, maybe use your Kohl's Ranch cabin as a starting point to ride to my cabin above Houston Brothers, just off U-Bar trail on Cabin Loop.

    This would be Shillingsworthy !!
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by eatdrinkride View Post
    If riding a loop of Horton Creek trail / Highline / fish hatchery / and Zane Grey road, based from the southern start of Horton Creek near the day picnic site is there a preferred route either CC or CCW? On paper I would think the most fun direction would be to ride the road up, then over to, and down Horton. However I'm not familiar with the Highline section between Tonto Creek and Horton.
    Yeah, take the road up to the Hatchery. Check trailforks, there's a 'green' trail (Christopher Creek trail) that parallels the road leading towards the Hatchery. Check that one out. (I haven't ridden it, but it's green. How hard could it be?? ) The Highline rides great in either direction between the Hatchery & Horton Springs. That'll be a nice loop.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by schillingsworth View Post
    Yeah, take the road up to the Hatchery. Check trailforks, there's a 'green' trail (Christopher Creek trail) that parallels the road leading towards the Hatchery. Check that one out. (I haven't ridden it, but it's green. How hard could it be?? ) The Highline rides great in either direction between the Hatchery & Horton Springs. That'll be a nice loop.
    Yeah I was wondering if there was a trail that bordered Tonto Creek. I'll look for it, thanks.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by azjonboy View Post
    Santana SS, maybe use your Kohl's Ranch cabin as a starting point to ride to my cabin above Houston Brothers, just off U-Bar trail on Cabin Loop.

    This would be Shillingsworthy !!
    I'm pretty adventurous, but that looks ambitious!

    Quote Originally Posted by eatdrinkride View Post
    Yeah I was wondering if there was a trail that bordered Tonto Creek. I'll look for it, thanks.
    Interesting.... That goes to the road that the "Rancho Catch A Trout" is on.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Santana SS View Post
    Interesting.... That goes to the road that the "Rancho Catch A Trout" is on.
    Rancho CAT???

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    Quote Originally Posted by eatdrinkride View Post
    Rancho CAT???
    It's a private, pay by the inch for what you catch Trout farm just below the Hatchery (unrelated).

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Santana SS View Post
    It's a private, pay by the inch for what you catch Trout farm just below the Hatchery (unrelated).
    Thereís something wrong about catching a trout that way.




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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by azjonboy View Post
    Santana SS, maybe use your Kohl's Ranch cabin as a starting point to ride to my cabin above Houston Brothers, just off U-Bar trail on Cabin Loop.

    This would be Shillingsworthy !!
    I would think that the reverse of this route would be a bit more manageable..

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Santana SS View Post
    Awesome thanks for that info that really helps. I want to ride from 260 TH maybe down Derrick, up Horton to the Hatchery, down the road home to my cabin in Kohls Ranch. That all sounds doable. I just need to get a shuttle to the 260 TH.
    I'd like to do that ride. Let me know if you want to set this up sometime soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dsrt taco View Post
    I'd like to do that ride. Let me know if you want to set this up sometime soon.
    I'm going up this weekend but I'm not sure I'm taking my bike this trip. If I do, I'll ping you. Are you Payson local?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Santana SS View Post
    I'm going up this weekend but I'm not sure I'm taking my bike this trip. If I do, I'll ping you. Are you Payson local?
    I'm in Phoenix, but I try to spend as little time here as possible during the summer months..

  28. #28
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    Yeah, prob so. Either way, once you hit section 31 (?) its a lot of hike a bike
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    you're lucky enough.

  29. #29
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    Well yesterday I did the loop of highline-Horton Springs/trail-upper Tonto Creek campground-road back up to the hatchery. I camped and started near the hatchery.

    The loop was probably less than 12 miles but it actually took quite a bit out of me. Starting from the Hatchery and heading east over to Horton Springs was pretty tiring. It seems as if the trail from the Hatchery to the power lines is non stop uphill with countless switchbacks. The trail is covered in loose cobbled sandstone rock... the kind of rock that gives no traction but let's your wheels get loose with every pedal stroke, combine that with the slick and muddy conditions from the previous day's heavy rains and a lot of HAB was done on that section. Things got much better from somewhere near the power lines over to the spring. The ride down Horton Creek Trail was a blast. That pretty much made the whole thing worthwhile. After that was the road ride back up to the Fish Hatchery. This I seriously underestimated. Given the fact I was quite tired from pushing my bike in mud up loose switchbacks for what seemed like eternity, I now faced a 3 mile road ride uphill on tires inflated to a little over 20 psi and that really sucked the life out of me. I was able to complete the trip up without stopping but it sure wasn't easy.

    Anyhow I would say this route was a bit more of an adventure rather than a true mountain bike ride... Although it certainly had elements of both. It's one of those things that I'm glad I did, because I enjoy an adventure on the bike, but unless the trail section improves between the springs and the Fish Hatchery I can't think of any reason I would go out of my way to do it again.

    Still, a so-so day mountain biking was a hell of a lot better than a good day working!

  30. #30
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    EDR,
    Bummer it was a grind for you. I can tell you this, I've ridden that section between Horton Springs & the Hatchery twice (both times going the opposite direction as you). Once was in similar conditions you experienced, it was a slippery slog. The other, dry trail and it made a world of difference. Give it another crack sometime when things are dried out.
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  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by schillingsworth View Post
    EDR,
    Bummer it was a grind for you. I can tell you this, I've ridden that section between Horton Springs & the Hatchery twice (both times going the opposite direction as you). Once was in similar conditions you experienced, it was a slippery slog. The other, dry trail and it made a world of difference. Give it another crack sometime when things are dried out.
    I did have a blast overall don't get me wrong. The conditions were just a little rough and I'm a bit ( a bunch?) out of biking shape. (I've lost~40lbs since the end of January and still working on more). I've been out of the game the last couple years and have recently got back into it. More than anything I was just looking to give others a trail report of the area's I rode. I'll give it a go another time for sure.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by eatdrinkride View Post
    Well yesterday I did the loop of highline-Horton Springs/trail-upper Tonto Creek campground-road back up to the hatchery. I camped and started near the hatchery.
    Ok so this weekend I happen to do the opposite direction. I rode up Horton, headed west on Highline to the Hatchery and coasted down the hill. Highline was a little tough. Rideable but I was alone and played it conservative so I HAB'd more than I might have if I were with other riders. I will agree, it was a bit of slog on the Highline and the switchbacks are rocky which puts you in this tough position of needing momentum to keep going over the rocks and going slow enough to clear the switch. And on other sections, there was thick grass up to your elbows that made the trail hard to follow and kept you blind to what was underneath. I pulled out trailforks a few times.

    2 weeks ago, I did an out and back with some friends on Highline from the 260 TH to Christopher Creek. That is a good ride. Some of it has the challenges described on the Horton/Hatchery section, but I would say it's a lot more rideable.

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