|Junipers and Ponderosa pines shade the trail|
Officially introduced in May 2014 during Pine-Strawberry Trail Days festivities, the area’s newest hiking path connects with Tonto National Forest routes Pine Canyon Trail #26 and Rock Wall Trail #608. The hike takes off from a small pull out along Highway 87 and follows a ridgeline above the town of Pine. There are no signs along the route and finding where the path begins is a little tricky. From the trailhead, pass the gate, veer right and hike 0.2 mile on the power line road to a 4-way junction where the road gets very steep. Pick up the trail heading right and from here on, the route is obvious. While hiking, note the beautifully constructed native stone retaining walls and drainage ditches. The din of the highway accompanies outstanding views of the Mazatzal Mountains for the first mile, but the noise recedes as the trail curves to the northwest, dipping and climbing among cypress pockets, juniper-studded gullies and cool pine-shaded woodlands backed by Mogollon Rim vistas. You’ll pass by several private residential communities and Camp Lo Mia before connecting with Trail #26 in Pine Canyon.
|An elegant Emory oak along the way|
LENGTH: 5.6 miles one-way
ELEVATION: 5690’ – 6050’
|Majestic views of the Mogollon Rim|
From Payson go 20 miles north on AZ87 to the trailhead at milepost 270 on the right. There’s parking for about 4 cars, but additional space is at the Trail #15 lot a few yards up the road on the left.
|Mazatzal Wilderness on the horizon|