Location

  • East Verde River to Pine

Length

  • 22.7 miles

Southern Access Point: The East Verde River

  • GPS Coordinates: 34.22915° N, 111.51299° W
  • NOTE: This trailhead is not directly accessible by vehicles. The nearest vehicle access point (34.21468° N, 111.48250° W) is 4 miles east of the trail at the wilderness boundary.

Access

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.


Northern Trailhead: Pine Trailhead

Access

Drive south of Pine on AZ 87 for 0.6 miles and turn left (east) to reach a large parking area and the trailhead.


Trail Route Description

Passage 25 continues north through the Mazatzal Wilderness. This section begins with a steady ascent from the East Verde River toward the Mogollon Rim. The trail here ascends through a high desert terrain characterized by juniper and piñon pine with some steep climbs over rugged and very rocky terrain. 

This passage uses historic trails and recently-built singletrack to travel from the north end of the Mazatzal Wilderness to the Pine Trailhead. Although this passage exits the designated wilderness, portions of it feel quite remote, and the lush zone through Oak Spring Canyon is beautiful. Trail users also enjoy frequent views of the Mogollon Rim, the massive and colorful escarpment that rises 1,500 feet above the Pine Valley.


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


Water

Water can always be found at the East Verde River, and usually at Polk Spring, Whiterock Spring and at Oak Spring.  Check the online Arizona Trail Water Report for current information at https://aztrail.org/explore/water-sources/.


Notes/Warnings

  • All water along this passage should be purified prior to use.
  • Mountain bikes are prohibited in the Mazatzal Wilderness.
  • Please respect all livestock operations in this area.

Resources

  • Map of Passage 25
  • USGS Topographic Maps: Cypress Butte, Cane Springs Mountain and Buckhead Mesa.
  • Tonto National Forest map.
  • BLM Information Center maps.
  • “Day Hikes & Trail Rides in Payson’s Rim Country” by Roger and Ethel Freeman, Gem Guides Book Co., Baldwin Park, CA., ISBN 1-889786-24-1.

For more information


Current Passage Info

Arizona Trail hikers no longer hike on road in Pine

Payson Roundup (May 11, 2021) by Michele Nelson After six months, a grant, a donation, and hundreds of volunteer hours, the Arizona Trail Association has completed a re-route of one of the most disliked portions of the Arizona Trail — Passage 25. The Arizona Trail marches up the middle of Arizona. It starts in the south at the Mexican border, then ends in the north at the Utah border. Completed during Arizona’s centennial year 2012, the trail has an extreme reputation due to the lack of water and challenging terrain. Yet since it opened, hundreds have hiked from border to border. The original Passage 25 route took hikers along a power line road for 8.2 miles. Not only were the power lines unsightly, hikers didn’t like hiking along the volcanic rock road. To top it off, ATVs also used that road. The completion of this project is a major milestone in the ATA’s commitment to removing the Arizona Trail from dirt roads, “where interaction with motor vehicles detracts from the Arizona Trail experience,” wrote staff. The new trail keeps more of the trail within designated wilderness and crosses Rock Creek, a seasonal water source. “There are now 6.7 miles of...
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Eyes Out For Cairns

The trail traverses long stretches of gently sloping volcanic boulder fields. Cairns mark the way along the low-use trail, which can become rather obscure from grassy overgrowth in the spring. Cairns are the same color as the surrounding rocks, so users must train their eyes to recognize them more by shape than color.
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