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Monday, March 16, 2015


Payson Area Trails System
View of the Mogollon Rim

The Payson Area Trails System (PATS) is a collection of routes weaving through the business districts and suburbs of this north-central Arizona town. The trails tie in nicely with nearby Tonto National Forest routes and most are open to hikers, equestrians, bikers and ATV users alike. Round Valley Trail begins in a quiet residential neighborhood with a climb along foot paths and 4x4 roads that leads to scenic high points with far-ranging views of the flat-topped profile of the Mogollon Rim and majestic peaks of the Mazatzal Mountains. Because many unsigned roads bisect the route, be sure to look for PATS signs to stay on track. Even though it's close-to-civilization, the trek offers a genuine outdoor escape as it runs through undulating juniper-pine forests south of town. In springtime, wildflowers like the ground hugging, purple blossoms of the Featherplume dalia and wild carrot pop up from the loose, rocky soils. One of the trail's most prolific spring bloomers is a shrub called Gregg's Ceanothus which sprouts tiny white or pink flowers that release a lilac fragrance from March through May. After topping out at 5200', the trail dips down into Round Valley and curves toward Highway 87 where the sweet wildflower breezes mingle with the aroma of burgers and fries as the path approaches its west trailhead at the Sonic restaurant lot on the Tonto Apache Reservation.
LENGTH: 4.5 miles one-way
RATING: easy-moderate
ELEVATION: 4800' - 5200'
From Phoenix, travel north on State Route 87 (Beeline Highway) to Payson. Just past the Mazatzal Casino, turn right on Phoenix Street (easy to miss, near the Circle K), drive 1.6 miles to Gibson Court, turn right and continue 0.1 mile to the inconspicuous trailhead on the left. There's parking along the road and in a cul de sac a few yards up the street. Do not block private drives in the area.
Located at the south end of the Sonic restaurant at SR87 and Green Valley Pkwy. near the Mazatzal Casino.
INFO: Payson Area Trails System

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