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

Starting on the north side of the East Verde River the trail follows the Rock Creek drainage up to Polk Spring and then climbs up on Polles Mesa. It reaches Red Saddle Tank and a gate, another gate, turns to the east and comes to Whiterock Spring. There is a steep climb back to the west and then the trail begins working its way across Whiterock Mesa. After crossing a drainage the trail climbs again along Saddle Ridge. There is another gate and the trail continues mostly north to the wilderness boundary and another gate. The trail passes through Saddle Ridge Pasture, another gate, and then reaches FR 194.

The route follows FR 194 for ~1.2 miles before turning right (southeast) onto a two-track running under a powerline. The route follows this rocky road in a southeast direction, then turns to the right onto FR 251 and veers away from the powerlines and then back towards them. The route turns to the south and descends to a barricaded gate, turns east past East Tank and through another barricaded gate. The trail descends past Ridge Tank and around to Oak Spring and a trail junction with Walnut Trail (#251). From here the trail climbs out of Oak Spring Canyon, runs more-or-less level for nearly a mile before descending past Bradshaw Tank to Pine Creek. A short ways downstream the trail heads east again and loops around to Highway 87. After crossing the highway it passes a resupply box near a fence corner and then quickly hits a junction (stay left through a heavy steel gate) and loop back to the Pine trailhead.


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 usually be found at the East Verde River, Polk Spring, Whiterock Spring and at Oak Spring. Water can sometimes be found in some of the stock tanks along the route.


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

  • 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

The Arizona Trail Just Got Better

The Arizona Trail Just Got Better

We are delighted to share the news that the Alder Ridge Project is now complete. Thanks to the hard work of conservation corps members from American Conservation Experience, machine operator extraordinaire Rob Bauer, and Arizona Trail Association (ATA) staff and volunteers, there is now 6.7 miles of new trail on the Tonto National Forest. Please join us in celebrating this grand accomplishment! The Alder Ridge Project eliminates 8.2 miles of AZT that has been co-located along a powerline road east of Twin Buttes Trailhead along Passage 25, west of the Arizona Trail Gateway Community of Pine. This road walk has been among the least desirable segments of the Arizona National Scenic Trail, and is frequently used by OHVs. Now, it’s all singletrack from the Mazatzal Wilderness to the Pine Trailhead (and beyond). Thanks to a grant from the Recreational Trails Program administered by Arizona State Parks & Trails; funding from REI Co-op; and support from ATA members and donors, we have worked hard to make this dream improvement a reality. The Alder Ridge Project is another major milestone in our ongoing commitment to removing the AZT from dirt roads – where interaction with motor vehicles detracts from the Arizona Trail...
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Pine section of Arizona Trail re-routed

Payson Roundup (October 6, 2020) by Michele Nelson The Arizona Trail Association knows no hiker enjoys walking along a forest service road, especially when power lines accompany the route. “Roads suck,” said Matthew Nelson, executive director of the ATA. But that’s exactly what hikers on the Arizona Trail’s Passage 25 found between the East Verde River and Pine. Adding insult to injury, the road had a lot of volcanic rock. “It is chunky boulders that goes on for miles and miles,” said Nelson. But not for long. The ATA has broken ground on a re-route that will turn a rocky road into a smooth single track. In terms of through hikes, the Arizona Trail is young. It was only completed in 2011 making it the youngest through trail in the U.S. To complete the trail, builders relied on old wagon roads and cattle trails, not as beautiful as single track trails to hikers. Although new, the Arizona Trail has gained a reputation as extreme due to the lack of water and topography. As well, the remote trailheads make resupply difficult. But this kind of reputation attracts super athletes who compete for the quickest through hike or the most Yo-Yo trips...
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Fire Chief Explains What Went Wrong on Hike

Payson Roundup (November 5, 2019) by Alexis Bechman New mapping software led Pine-Strawberry Fire Chief Gary Morris astray last week, and it may be responsible for other rescues off the Arizona Trail this year. Morris said he purchased a new GPS tracker a month ago and installed a SIM card with maps of the Arizona Trail. He tested the device on the Highline Trail, which the Arizona Trail follows below the Mogollon Rim for a distance, and everything seemed to work fine. So, Morris set off on a four-day solo hike on the Arizona Trail between Sunflower and the Doll Baby Ranch area. Everything was going as planned and his wife expected him home Oct. 28. When he didn’t call as expected, she called the Gila County Sheriff’s Office, handing over Morris’ detailed hiking plan, which included his route, everywhere he planned to camp and even a picture of his boot print. Morris said his wife was confident he would make it out all right given his experience level. Morris says shortly after noon Oct. 28, he inadvertently got off the main trail. He believes he was roughly five miles from exiting at the LF Ranch. From the ranch, it...
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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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Flickr Photos

Photos from the Arizona Trail Association’s Flickr galleries, for this specific passage. View the entire Flickr account.

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