Location

  • Pine Trailhead to the Mogollon Rim

Length

  • 20.2 miles

Southern 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.


Northern Trailhead: FR 300 Trailhead

Access

From the intersection of AZ 87 and AZ 260 north of Pine, drive east 2.6 miles on AZ 87 then turn right (south) toward FR 300. Go 0.1 miles and turn left onto FR 300. Avoid the frequent side roads and drive 12 miles on FR 300 to a turnoff on the left (north) at a historical marker for the Battle of Big Dry Wash. This is where the AZT crosses FR 300. Turn left and follow a power line 0.3 mile to General Springs Cabin. The road curves right to a small parking area and the trailhead.


Trail Route Description

East from the Pine Trailhead the trail climbs two long, gentle switchbacks ending at an open area overlooking the eastern front of the Mazatzal Range. Working its way east along the Highline Trail (#31), it skirts the southern edge of Milk Ranch Point, passes a nice camping site at Red Rock Spring and crosses Webber Creek at the Geronimo Trailhead. Excellent creek-side camping locations are to the right, a few hundred yards south of the creek crossing. Continuing east, the trail crosses Bray Creek and then comes to the Washington Park Trailhead. Here the trail crosses a utility road, passes a trail register and drops to a steel bridge across the East Verde River, a small stream at this headwaters location. Across the bridge and left around a quick S-turn the AZT departs the Highline Trail for the Colonel Devin Trail (#290), marked by a sign on a very stout post. The trail continues north along the east stream bank through tall pine, alder and walnut trees, crosses a small puncheon bridge, another steel bridge and one more puncheon bridge before climbing through the rocks and joining the utility road. Near the base of the steep ascent to the Mogollon Rim the trail turns sharply right. A few hundred yards ahead at a switchback the faint Tunnel Trail (#390) departs the AZT. The AZT continues climbing the Mogollon Rim where the passage terminates at FR 300 near the Battle of Big Dry Wash historical marker.


Difficulty

  • Moderate

Season(s)


Water

Water may be found at Red Rock Spring, Pine Spring, Webber Creek, Bray Creek, North Sycamore Creek, Chase Creek and Pieper Hatchery Spring


Notes/Warnings

  • All water along this passage should be purified prior to use.
  • Over 17 miles of this passage follows the well-established Highline Trail in the Tonto National Forest. Designated as a National Recreation Trail in 1979, this historic trail was established in the late 1800’s to link various homesteads and ranches under the Mogollon Rim.
  • North of Washington Park the trail passes the junction with the Tunnel Trail. The Tunnel Trail leads to what remains of the failed attempt to build a 3,100 foot tunnel through the Mogollon Rim for carrying ore from Globe to Flagstaff.
  • For more on the Battle of Big Dry Wash, download the January 1931 Arizona Historical Review from http://hdl.handle.net/10150/623320 and see “The Apaches’ Last Stand” by Will C. Barnes, page 36.

Resources

  • USGS Topographic Maps: Kehl Ridge and Dane Canyon.
  • Earth Tracks – Mogollon Rim West map.
  • Arizona Highways – Rim Guide Hiking map.
  • Highline Trail brochure from Payson Ranger District – Tonto National Forest.
  • 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

Backbone Fire Forces Closure of Arizona Trail Near Pine

Backbone Fire Forces Closure of Arizona Trail Near Pine

The Backbone Fire has forced a closure of the Arizona Trail west of the town of Pine. In the interest of public safety, AZT Passage 25 (Whiterock Mesa) and a portion of Passage 26 (Highline) is currently closed between East Verde River (mile 430) and Bray Creek (mile 462). Trail users are discouraged from visiting any portion of Passage 26 as the fire advances further west. Nearby communities of Pine and Strawberry have already evacuated. The Backbone Fire was first reported on June 7 and has grown to over 40,855 acres (as of June 26). To learn more about the Backbone Fire, visit the Inciweb page here.
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Wildflowers and my daughter

Payson Roundup (May 28, 2021) by Michele Nelson Undaunted, my daughter trudged up the Highline/Arizona Trail from the Pine Trailhead. She walked this same stretch two years and a pandemic century ago — a different person. Brooke solo hiked the 800-mile Arizona Trail after obtaining an undergraduate degree in geology from ASU. She’s working on a master’s degree in geology in Alaska now — reading the dense data in satellite images of the Earth. She hopes to serve the environment, but she’s not sure how. After the long anxiety of the pandemic — she came home for a break between projects. So, we set out on this hike in the footsteps of her memories. It’s been a tough year on all of us, including the forest. As we walked, I made note of the dead snags and the dry dirt after a year with neither a monsoon nor a snowpack. Our hike fell in the late spring of May, wildflower season. But with the region in the grip of an “exceptional” drought, we did not expect to see bursts of wildflower color. But nature likes to gift us in surprising ways. As we headed out from the thinned and tidy...
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New York man rescued after hitting heavy snow during Arizona Trail hike

KTAR News (March 16, 2021) by Kevin Stone A New York man hiking along the Arizona Trail was rescued after unexpectedly getting stranded in deep snow 12 days into his trek, authorities said. The 41-year-old started his excursion in Superior on March 2 and had been camping out along the way, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday in a press release. He was well-prepared for the long-distance hike but hadn’t planned for the extreme weather he hit in Coconino National Forest, according to the release. He’d reached the General Springs Cabin on the Mogollon Rim, about 110 miles north of his starting point, when he realized he couldn’t safely continue and called for help. The cabin is located off a forest service road north of Payson that’s closed to traffic because of the winter conditions. Coconino County Search and Rescue Units out of Flagstaff set out to find the man, using snowmobiles and a snowcat, a truck-like vehicle with a tank-like track designed for snowy terrain. The rescuers found the man at the cabin in good condition. They transported him to State Route 87 and then got him a ride into Payson. The Arizona Trail is an 800-mile path...
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Repairing the AZT’s Highline Passage

Repairing the AZT’s Highline Passage

Anyone who has visited the Highline Passage of the Arizona National Scenic Trail over the past few years will remember the ditch that bisected the trail near Geronimo Spring. The chasm has grown deeper and more dangerous with every storm, creating a significant safety hazard for trail users. Thanks to funding from the State of Arizona and a collaborative effort from Bauer Built Trails, American Conservation Experience, Flagline Trails, Tonto National Forest and the Arizona Trail Association – the problem has been fixed! Using heavy machinery, tons of boulders, downed trees, local soil, ingenuity and determination, the crew removed the old metal culvert that was the source of the problem, backfilled the drainage with rocks, and built fresh tread over the top of it. Despite numerous challenges associated with coronavirus and the strict protocols in place for keeping everyone safe while working outdoors, the small crew worked tirelessly on the project for over one week. The end result is impressive and will be a welcome improvement by all trail users who hike, run or ride along the Highline Passage. When tackling problems like the Geronimo Blowout, the Arizona Trail Association aspires to find a solution that will last 50 years...
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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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