General Hiking Information
When hiking, please follow the Boy Scout motto and be prepared. Take more water than you think you will need (1 or 2 gallons per person) and make sure each person has a map, large trash bag & matches in their pocket. Tonto and Coconino National Forest maps are recommended before hiking unfamiliar trails. The trash bag can be used for an emergency windbreaker, raincoat or holding trash you may generate or find on the trail.
Trails that are below the rim and close to lodging at Cabins on Strawberry Hill:
Strawberry Canyon Trail: (very easy, Up to about 1.5 miles one way) Start off the northwest corner of our resort next to the telephone pole. The trail starts a long a hill crest where we sled in the winter. Go back about 300 yards until there is a wooden arrow to the left and right. For reference there is also a 20 inch diameter standing dead Ponderosa pine tree about ten feet beyond the arrow. Turn right and go about 100 yards to the highway. Cross the highway and go to your left until you see the barbwire bent up. Duck under it (the bottom strand has no barbs so it won’t catch your clothes). Walk up the closed off road. The trail climbs up the narrowing canyon at an easy grade. There are about 10-20 barriers along the trail that go across the old jeep trail. They are easy to walk around. The narrower the canyon gets the more lush the vegetation becomes. There is a fork in the trail after you cross a wash. To the left it goes up another narrow canyon. Go to the right. The road becomes a narrow jeep trail that climbs the rim. Follow the trail as far as you wish to go, then turn around and return. If you are a very experienced hiker in outstanding physical condition, you may want to hike over and down from Milk Ranch Point on the Donahue Trail listed below. Estimated hiking distance from our resort to the Highline Trail Head is about 10 miles. I recommend going up the rim on the Rim View Trail described below.
Strawberry Village Trail: Strawberry Village Trail: (easy, Up to about 2 miles one way) Start off the northwest corner of our resort next to the telephone pole. The trail goes a long a hill crest where we sled in the winter. Go back about 300 yards until there is a wooden sign with arrows to the left and right. For reference there is also a 20 inch diameter standing dead Ponderosa pine tree. Turn left. Strawberry is a 3 mile long village. The trail meanders parallel to the village on its northern side. Numerous side trails into Strawberry exist and may confuse you. About 2 1/2 miles back in the trail climbs up hill and actually enters Coconino County and National Forest. From here the view across and up and down Strawberry valley is fantastic.
Tonto Natural Bridge:
(Moderate-Hiking Stick Recommended, Up to about 1.5 miles Bridge Trail or Waterfall Trail). Driving directions: Turn right (south) out the Cabins On Strawberry Hill driveway. Pass through the village of Pine and continue south for another five to ten minutes. When you are on the portion of 87/260 that is an undivided 4 lane section, you will see a sign on the right. Use your gears to slow your car to prevent overheating your breaks. Follow the signs to the parking lot. There is a fee to enter the state park. Obtain a guide sheet and select which trail to follow. The world’s largest known travertine bridge is 183 feet high, 150 feet wide and 400 feet long. It is incredibly huge. The sights and sounds of a small water falls add to the natural beauty of this canyon with the magnificent natural bridge. During the winter, icicles hang down beautifully when there is moisture that melts slowly during the day. The trail has numerous stairs built into it, which is why we recommend a hiking stick.
Rim View Trail: Moderate difficulty. Length to rim is about 3 miles. This trail starts just south of the village of Strawberry on the east side of SR 87. You can walk the approximately 0.9 miles from our resort or park there. There is a guard rail blocking where people used to drive into the forest. Go through the hinged chain-link gate. The Rim View Trail was one of the trails that the settlers used to climb the rim before SR 87 was constructed. According to Lufkin Hunt, this was a trail that the state contracted to an Indian tribe to improve in about 1915. It is easy to imagine the harshness of life for the settlers using this trail before it was improved in 1915. It is also amazing to see the size of stones that were stacked to improve the road. In 1915 the stones were moved by humans and animals. At about 1 mile in the trail rounds a bend and provides views westward into Strawberry Valley. This trail is a favorite of the locals to ride their quads to the top of the rim for a picnic lunch. Once you reach the top of the rim, travel for about 1 mile, and then bear right on the existing trails/roads. The view from above the rim over the village of Pine is incredible. If you continue further east for about 1 mile, then the view of Pine Creek Canyon can be seen. The view here is spectacular. Pine Creek Canyon climbs up the Rim in an awesome sight.
Verde Hot (95°F/35°C) Springs Trail: (very easy, wet trail, ¾ mile one way, 160’ elevation change, Spring elevation 2600’, bring water-shoes and hiking shoes) Directions to the trail head. From AZ Hwy 260 (just a few miles east of Camp Verde), take Fossil Creek Road east about 15 miles (approx.). Turn right on Forest Service Road 502 and proceed 5.8 miles to the Childs power plant campground. Depending on the time of year you may need a high clearance vehicle (pickup/SUV) to drive the last ¼ mile.
You will cross the Verde River here. I recommend that you bring a pair of water shoes so your feet won’t become blistered on the short hike. Do not cross the Verde River it if it is running high (it has killed before and probably will again). Call the Tonto National Forest Service (928) 474-7900 on weekdays for information on the danger of crossing due to water flow. Proceed up the old road west for about ½ mile. Cross to the island in the middle of the river. Hike upstream about a ¼ mile and cross the remainder of the Verde River near the stone wall/house. Verde Hot Springs was once a famous resort. The guest list included Teddy Roosevelt and Hollywood stars. All that remains of the resort is a few foundations, rock walls, and a concrete hot spring pool. Enjoy the soothing benefits of the hot mineral water. If you are not used to walking much, remember to keep a dry pair of shoes so your feet will not blister. Caution should be observed in the summer months to bring a lot of drinking water (1 or 2 gallons per person) or better yet bring a backpacker’s R.O. pump. The 2600 foot elevation here can easily reach 110°F on summer afternoons. We have had guests venture there on sunny January days, so this can be a nice year round trip, weather permitting. If you are a conservationist in good physical condition, you may want to explore for Indian ruins. The region has numerous old cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, and artifacts. Remember take only pictures and leave only footprints so that future generations may enjoy the history (besides it is the law). A word of caution to parents, there are often people “all natural” in the hot springs pools.
Fossil Hot Springs (72°F/22°C) Wild Trail: (moderate trail, 3.6 miles one way, 1,300’ elevation change spring elevation 4,200 feet, bring water shoes and wear good hiking shoes) Directions to the trail head. Take Fossil Creek Road west about 6 miles (take your time on this steep, windy road when it turns to dirt and come back alive). There will be a trail head sign on the right. This trail has spectacular views. There is a noticeable change in vegetation as the trail descends. At the bottom turn downstream and go about 0.3 miles to the springs. Then go an additional 0.3 miles further to the dam. From the dam another great swimming hole is another 0.2 miles downstream. At the dam there is a very deep pool. A little known feature is a feature in the rock on the right side. There is a hole about 5 feet under water and 6 feet long that connects to the main channel of the creek. Swim through it at your own risk. Please remember you are in a very fragile natural environment. Minimize flipping stones because many creatures hide under them and serve as a critical part of the food chain. Ledges, logs and overhanging underwater features are habitat for soft-shell turtles and other animals. Please avoid trampling the grass. About 80% of the local animals rely on this streamside grass for their survival. For those that are conservationist and in good physical condition, there are cliff dwellings about three miles further up the canyon. Remember take only pictures and leave only footprints. It is the right thing to do and it is the law.
Highline Trail (FS Trail 31): The Highline Trail is one of the Rim Country’s most popular trails because it is long with numerous side trails. Please check with us if you have a new trail from the Pine Trail Head or close by to add.
Donahue Trail (FS Trail 27): Pine Trailhead to the apex of Milk Ranch Point. Difficulty: Difficult (Hiking Stick Recommended), steep with some loose rocks in places. Length approx. 1 to 1.5 miles one way. The Donahue Trail has become a personal favorite of mine for a couple of reasons. First, it is a short but steep hike which gains 1,200 feet, and second it winds up at my favorite Arizona scenic spot, Milk Ranch Point. Milk Ranch Point can be accessed via Forest Road 300 at the top, or you can hike to the Point via Donahue Trail from below. Be careful driving up on top the rim in the spring I sunk my Bronco up there once on account of all the spring thaw! If you choose to come from below, the trail can be accessed just off State Route 87, 0.2 mile southeast of Pine on the east side of the road. The dirt road leads to a big parking lot, just park anywhere, walk through the gate, and get on the Highline trail FS Trail 31 going east. The beginning of the trail is flat and easy. There is a soft blanket of pine needles to hike on which can be a refreshing change from the typical rock hiking in Phoenix. If you carefully look around you, there are pieces of petrified wood on the ground. Please leave them for future generations to see. There are some very large Juniper pines along the way and what appear to be some lightning strikes as well! Soon you will reach a trail junction with a couple of choices. Stay on the Highline Trail going east. The trail climbs gradually for a little while until it becomes exposed to the south. Here you will see some manzanita and some small pinion pines. You might even see some prickly pear & yucca. Continue on the trail until you see the Donahue Trail Sign. Take this trail to the left and get ready to climb. The trail will become steep with some loose rock and switchbacks. This is a good place to get a workout and get rid of that last piece of chocolate you had watching TV. It becomes difficult to decide between keeping your momentum and turning around to look at the views below. All the way up the side of the Mogollon Rim you can get views of Pine, Pine Canyon, and the Rim to the West. Take a few pictures here! Once you reach the top the trail flattens out again. I usually have lunch at the top at a great spot on the very edge of the rim. To find it keep hiking on the trail keeping an eye out to the left. You will see an obvious spot where you can get to the edge. If you continue on the trail you will end up at the end of a dirt road which is the access road from the top I mentioned earlier. The descent is quicker and easier, just watch your footing on the loose rock. Don’t forget to watch for storms they can come fast and furious, especially during monsoon season. Enjoy! Author: John Nicklos March 2000.
Mineral Belt Tunnel Trail (Lower Trail): Difficulty: Difficult. Elevation 6,300 feet. The trail description from the bottom up is pending. If you are interested in writing this description please contact us. There are descriptions of this available from the forest service.
Cold Springs swimming hole and falls: Difficulty: Easy. (Distance 1/4 mile, Elevation 5100 feet) There are about 6 swimming holes. This is a busy area on weekends, not bad on weekdays. The best swimming hole is at the base of the two stage water falls that combined are about 40 feet high. The Swimming hole is about 8 feet deep and 35 feet across. There is a great granite slab for sunning on at the bottom of the swimming hole. Unfortunately there is a lot of broken glass in the area, so please be careful and help clean it up a little when you visit. Trailhead: To access from our resort. Turn right onto SR 87 (southbound). Drive about 1-2 miles south of Pine to the dirt Control Road (FR 64). Drive east about ten miles to Houston Mesa Rd FR199 turn right. Park a 1/4 mile north of second crossing. From Phoenix or Payson, proceed north on 87. On the northern edge of Payson, turn right on Houston Mesa Rd (FR199). Travel about 8 miles north. After second crossing drive about 1/4 mile and park on the right. Walk along the road past a locked gate approximately 0.3 miles to short spur trail that leads to Ellison Creek. Walk up the granite slabs 200 yards to the fall and swimming holes.
Pine Canyon Trail (FS Trail 26): Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult. Distance 8 miles one way. Elevation 7,200 to 5,000 feet. This trail can be hiked up the rim from the Pine Trailhead or down the rim from near Highway 87. To access the upper trailhead, drive north about 8.5 miles from our resort. There is a short 1/10th mile access road on the right. Follow the trail down the rim. The views are spectacular and the creek forms a lush riparian environment in the narrow canyon. Because camp Lo Mia blocked public access at the end of the road, you must now hike around the east side of the village of Pine to the Highline Trail Head.
Trails that are above the rim from Cabins On Strawberry Hill:
Cabin Loop Trails: Difficulty: Moderate. Elevation 7,200 to 7,800 feet. Early forest rangers patrolled the forests on horseback and slept in simple log cabins. The cabins were built next to water and grazing pastures. Three cabins formed a loop that was followed above the rim. General Springs, Pinchot, and Buck Springs cabins were linked to each other and to the ranger station at Long Valley (Clints Wells) by trails and later telephone lines. Trailhead: Take Hwy 87 north to the Rim Road FR 300. Take FR 300 east 12 miles. Turn north and go 1/2 mile to General Springs Cabin. The hike is on Fred Haught FS Trail 22. It is about 6 miles one way and plan on it taking about an hour per mile. There is no water on this trail so ensure you are carrying a sufficient supply. Pinchot Cabin: This cabin was built in the 1930’s and is named after Gifford Pinchot. Pinchot was the first Chief Forester. The cabin is located near where FS Trail 22, 18 and 28 meet. Also near where FR 95, 139A and 139 meet. Distance to Buck Springs Cabin is 6.7 miles via the U-Bar Trail (FS Trail 28).
Kinder Crossing Trail: Difficulty Moderate: Elevation 6900 to 6500 feet. Distance 2 miles round trip. Trail Head directions: Turn left from our driveway and take 87 past the Blue Ridge Ranger station (about 22 miles). Turn right on FR 95. Go 4.2 miles to the turnoff sign. Turn left and go about 0.7 miles to the trailhead. This starts at the top of the canyon and descends down to the beautiful creek and swimming hole. It is very beautiful along East Clear Creek with more holes downstream. If you are looking for a great place to go swimming in June, this is the spot.
Mineral Belt Tunnel Trail (Upper Trail): Difficulty: Difficult (Hiking Stick Recommended). Elevation 7,200 to 6,300 feet. The Mineral Belt Tunnel was the location selected above Washington Park where a railroad was to climb the Rim. It was drilled and blasted by hand in 1888. They tunneled to a depth of about 70 feet before running out of money. This hike provides one with spectacular views from the rim. Trailhead: To access from above, drive north on Hwy 87 to the rim road. Take the Rim Road (General Crook Trail) FR 300 east for about 12 miles. Stop at the Battle of Big Dry Wash monument. Begin at the trailhead sign on the south side of the Rim Road. Descend about 100 feet following the power lines. Turn left at the second power pole along the trail on the east side of the canyon. Continue on the trail about 1/2 mile to the next sign. Follow the switchback up the rim to the left to the tunnel. This last section of the trail is steep, rocky and easy to misread.
Pivot Rock Canyon Trail: Difficulty: EASY. Elevation 7,200 to 7,000 feet. Length: 3.5 miles total (round trip).This trail is another favorite quick day hike in the summer time when I want to be on top of the Rim. It is lush with ferns even in the dry pre-monsoon months of May & June. Directions to trail head: Turn left from our driveway, go 12.9 miles to Forest Road 616 (FR 616). Drive about 3.2 miles on the dirt road to where the road to Wildcat Springs on the left is closed. Drive into the flat area off of the right side of the road down by the big ponderosas follow the road in about 1/3 mile to the dead end. This is the starting point for both the Spring hike or the Canyon hike. Follow the creek about 1/4 mile, then go down the rocky stair like path to the water. Follow the trail as it crosses back and forth across the creek. At about 1-1/4 miles there is a meadow with some remnants of old settler’s cabins. Keep following the trail down the creek at about 1-3/4 miles two canyons enter on your left. This is where we tend to turn around. If you keep going at about 2-1/2 miles the trail along the creek will come out onto Forest Road 142 (FR 142).
Pivot Rock Spring Trail: Difficulty: EASY. Elevation 7,200 to 7,100 feet. Length: 2 Miles total (round trip). This trail is another favorite quick day hike in the summer time when I want to be on top of the Rim. It is lush with ferns even in the dry pre-monsoon months of May & June. Directions to trail head: Turn left from our driveway, go 12.9 miles to Forest Road 616 (FR 616). Drive about 3.2 miles on the dirt road to where the road to Wildcat Springs on the left is closed. Drive into in the flat area off of the right side of the road down by the big ponderosas follow the road in about 1/3 mile to the dead end. This is the starting point for both the Spring hike or the Canyon hike. Follow the creek about 1/4 mile, then go down the rocky stair like path to the water. At the water make a right turn and go about 50 feet to the intersection of a small side canyon. Go up the canyon and follow the trail. After about 1/2 mile you can see Aspen trees. Continue to follow the trail up the canyon until you see the springs. The trail ends up hitting Forest Road 616 (FR 616).
Wildcat Spring Trail: Difficulty: EASY. Elevation 7,200 to 7,300 feet. Length: 2.5 miles total (round trip). This trail is my favorite quick day hike in the summer time when I want to be on top of the Rim. It is lush with ferns even in the dry pre-monsoon months of May & June. In mid-June 2004 the spring at the end of the hike was dry, but the hike is still worth doing. Directions to trail head: Turn left from our driveway, go 12.9 miles to Forest Road 616 (FR 616). Drive about 3.2 miles on the dirt road to where the road to Wildcat Srings on the left is closed. Park in the flat area off the right side of the road and down by the big ponderosas. Walk, horseback or bicycle in the closed road. About 1//8 mile in the trail separates from the closed road and crosses the creek bed for hikers. For the next 1/2 mile the trail follows along the wash. It passes to the left of a large stone formation with trees growing from it. After about 1/4 mile more, it reconnects with the closed road that comes in from your left side. Follow the road as it goes up the canyon and winds to the left. On the left side of the canyon is the concrete box that would normally have spring water flowing from it. About 1/4 mile after the spring the road ends. Note the dirt road into this location is not plowed during winter months.
NOTE: Additional trails will be added, please check back for updated information.
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