Passage #24 - Red Hills

Looking north towards the East Verde River Location:  The Park to the East Verde River

Length:  10.9 miles

Southern Access Point:  Red Hills Trail Junction
- GPS Coordinates:  34.18046° N, 111.50359° W  
- Access: From Payson on AZ 87 drive west on Main Street. Stay on the main road past a golf course, where the pavement ends and the road becomes FR 406. About 10 miles from AZ 87, park at City Creek Trailhead on the east side of the road. Hike southwest up the Mazatzal Divide Trail #23 for approximately 5.75 miles to the junction of the Mazatzal Divide trail and the Red Hills Trail.

Northern Access Point:  The East Verde River
- GPS Coordinates:  34.22915° N, 111.51299° W  
- Access: East Verde River (LF Ranch), via Doll Baby Trailhead: From the town of Payson at the intersection of AZ 87 and Main Street; take Main Street west for 2 miles, which turns into Country Club Drive. Near the end of Country Club Drive, the road passes a sanitation plant, crosses a creek and continues on paved road for another 6 miles. This newly paved road is referred to as Doll Baby Ranch Rd. or LF Ranch Rd. depending on which map is being used. At this point it becomes a dirt doubletrack (FR 406). Continue on FR 406 for approximately 3 miles, passing City Creek Trailhead and Doll Baby Ranch, eventually arriving at the locked gate. This is the Doll Baby Trailhead; parking and camping are allowed. From the trailhead, walk around the gate and hike on the doubletrack for 3.9 miles. The road will wind around the hills and eventually level out in the valley near the ranch. The AZT will intersect the road from the west as a faint singletrack.

Trail Route Description:  This passage begins at the junction of the Red Hills Trail and the Mazatzal Divide Trail (#23). From here the trail heads crosses the upper end of a City Creek side canyon, passes Knob Mountain, and drops down to the junction with the Brush Trail (#249). Following this trail it crosses a drainage, climbs up the other side and then curves around to the north and drops down to Houston Creek. After crossing several drainages the trail reaches a saddle on Bullfrog Ridge and then switchbacks down into Bullfrog Canyon. It climbs part way out, becomes an old two-track road and then begins descending along the side of the canyon. It turns to the right and becomes a trail again. The trail works its way past Copper Mountain and comes to a road. This is the entry to the LF Ranch. The trail loops around to the east of the ranch and then reaches the East Verde River.

Difficulty:  Moderate

Season(s):  All year. Snow can be present at higher elevations after winter storms and lower elevations can be quite warm in summer (current weather forecast)

Water:  The only reliable water on this passage is the East Verde River. There may also be seasonal water in some of the drainages the trail crosses.

Early morning along the East Verde River Notes/Warnings:

  • All water along this passage should be purified prior to use.
  • Mountain bikes are prohibited in the Mazatzal Wilderness.


  • USGS Topographic Maps: North Peak and Cypress Butte.
  • Tonto National Forest map.
  • BLM Information Center maps.

For more information, contact:

Current Trail Information:

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