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Highline Trail #31, AZ
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route 2.3k 280 0 0
There are many opinions on the length of this trail, ranging from 50 to 54 miles, but for this description it will be 52 miles. Because of its long length, this trail will take the average hiker from 3-5 days, although te-wa and myself completed it in just under 2 (not recommended). There are now two sections of this trail that have received damage from wildfires, one section between the Hatchery TH and Washington Park TH which was damaged by the Dude Fire of 1990, and the February Fire of 2006, which burned a portion of the trail east of the Geronimo TH. However these areas have been decently marked, so finding your way along them will not be that difficult.


You can choose to start from either the Pine Trailhead or the 260 Trailhead, for this hike we started at the 260 TH. From the start of the trail, you will begin to head west toward the See Canyon TH, with constant climbing and descending, with a large descent right before the See Canyon TH (approx. 6 miles from 260 TH) and the crossing of Christopher Creek, which will likely have water. Right after Christopher Creek you will began a large climb for the next few miles. As you wind your way around Promontory Butte you will reach great views of the surrounding forest, and then switchback down right before you reach Horton Springs (approx. 13.5 miles from 260 TH), which is a great place to camp or refill your water.

After Horton Springs you will yet again be on the rise, and around 3.5 miles you will reach Tonto Creek and the Hatchery TH (approx. 17 miles from 260 TH), which has a few campsites nearby with easy access to the creek. From the Hatchery TH you will be starting out with, once again, another uphill. But now, as opposed to the Ponderosa pines that have dominated the first part of the trail, you will now be walking on sandstone surrounded by chaparral and other knee high grasses, and the charred remains of trees burned in 1990. However with all of the downed wood this has lead to great views. About 6.5 miles after leaving the Hatchery you will past Myrtle Trail and Ellison Creek. After crossing FR 144 you will continue through the burn area crossing over several more smaller creeks and then a few more ups and downs until out of no where East Verde River appears along with the Washington Park TH (approx. 33 miles from the 260 TH) along with it's scattered campsites.

After crossing the road at the Washington Park TH you will need to keep a close eye out for the trail markers, being sure not to turn onto the Col. Devin Trail, you will cross another road and walk past the Girl Scout cabin, working your way up the trail passing by another two creeks that had enough to filter from. You will continue to work you way up the hills, although nothing as tiring as the eastern end of the trail, you will soon happen upon the area hit hard by the February Fire. At the time I was there the forest was just now starting to sprout up small grass and shrubs, but for the most part was dominated by large blackened stumps and fallen trees. After you reach the outer edges of the fire you will pass Bear Spring and you will gradually, and then more rapidly descend down toward the Geronimo TH and Webber Creek (approx 43 miles from the 260 TH). From there the trail faintly makes its way up toward Milk Ranch Point, slowly but constantly climbing the next 4 miles, passing by both Pine and Red Rock Springs. At the time of my visit, Pine Spring was nothing more then a muddy spot on the ground, and Red Rock Spring had a constant trickle into its trough. However after filtering a few quarts from the Red Rock Spring the water tasted heavily of rust so we dumped out our water and made the last 4 miles of the trip with out any water. I would suggest not relying on those two springs, we were quite disappointed and after coming 28 miles we were unable to drink until we reached our car. After around another mile you will begin the long descent down Milk Ranch Point, lasting 2 miles until you intersect with the Donahue Trail, afterwards you will reach level terrain which after the previous 50 miles, you will be able to cruise through, walking though a way marked Ponderosa forest. Alas, 52 miles later you will reach the Pine TH and the cabins that surround it.
Description 280 Triplogs  13 Topics
RatedFavorite   Wish List Region
 
0
0
 Payson N
Statistics
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 51.15 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,620 feet
Elevation Gain -1,288 feet
Accumulated Gain 8,415 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 - 5 days
Kokopelli Seeds 79.19
Author fairweather8588
Descriptions 2
Routes 0
Photos 299
Trips 79 map ( 712 miles )
Age 28
Location Scottsdale
Photos
Viewed All Mine Following
5  2016-08-22
Drew Canyon to See Canyon Loop
The_N
7  2016-08-19 The_N
2  2016-08-17
Promontory Trail #278
DallinW
51  2016-08-13
Highland Trail Loop
tobybaum
4  2016-08-09
Drew from See Canyon TH
The_N
38  2016-08-06
Horton Super Loop Plus
rayhuston
9  2016-07-29
Milk Ranch Point Loop
The_N
7  2016-07-27
Promontory Butte 7,914
friendofThunderg
9  2016-07-23 The_N
11  2016-07-10 The_N
22  2016-07-09
See Canyon Drew Loop
rayhuston
11  2016-06-29
Promontory Butte Loop
The_N
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 15
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Map - Tonto National Forest - FS MAP
Forest Tonto
Backpack   Yes & Connecting
Preferred   Mar, Apr, Sep, Oct → Early
Seasons   Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:51am - 7:02pm
Route Scout
import queue
Official Route
 
Alternative Routes
 
Water
Nearby Hikes Area Water Sources
direct air miles away to trailhead
0.0  Military Sinkhole Trail #179
0.0  Mogollon Rim Vista Loop
1.1  Rim Lakes Vista Trail #622
1.4  Gordon Creek Falls
1.4  Aspen Campground
1.4  Hunter Creek Falls
[ View More! ]
Culture
     Cairn
     Campsite
     Spring Box
     Trail Maintenance
Space
Fauna
     American Robin
     Apache Trout
     Arizona Black Rattlesnake
     Arizona Mountain Kingsnake
     Bald Eagle
     Black Bear
     Black-headed Grosbeak
     Gambel's Quail
     Gray Fox
     Great Blue Heron
     Greater Short-Horned Lizard
     Honey Bee
     Horned Lizard
     Plateau Fence Lizard
     Rainbow Trout
     Silver-spotted Skipper
     Smallmouth Bass
     Tarantula
     Teva
     Tropical Buckeye
     Turkey Vulture
Space
Flora
     Alligator Juniper
     Arizona Blackberry*
     Arizona Cypress
     Arizona Valerian
     Century Plant
     Fleabane
     Gilled Mushrooms
     Manzanita
     Mexican cancer-root
     New Mexico Locust*
     Periwinkle
     Puffball and Earthstar Mushroo
     Sego Lily (aka Mariposa Lily)
     Western Wallflower - Orange
     Yellow Columbine
Space
Geology
     Coconino Sandstone
Mogollon Rim Death March
by fairweather8588

There are many opinions on the length of this trail, ranging from 50 to 54 miles, but for this description it will be 52 miles. Because of its long length, this trail will take the average hiker from 3-5 days, although te-wa and myself completed it in just under 2 (not recommended). There are now two sections of this trail that have received damage from wildfires, one section between the Hatchery TH and Washington Park TH which was damaged by the Dude Fire of 1990, and the February Fire of 2006, which burned a portion of the trail east of the Geronimo TH. However these areas have been decently marked, so finding your way along them will not be that difficult.


You can choose to start from either the Pine Trailhead or the 260 Trailhead, for this hike we started at the 260 TH. From the start of the trail, you will begin to head west toward the See Canyon TH, with constant climbing and descending, with a large descent right before the See Canyon TH (approx. 6 miles from 260 TH) and the crossing of Christopher Creek, which will likely have water. Right after Christopher Creek you will began a large climb for the next few miles. As you wind your way around Promontory Butte you will reach great views of the surrounding forest, and then switchback down right before you reach Horton Springs (approx. 13.5 miles from 260 TH), which is a great place to camp or refill your water.

After Horton Springs you will yet again be on the rise, and around 3.5 miles you will reach Tonto Creek and the Hatchery TH (approx. 17 miles from 260 TH), which has a few campsites nearby with easy access to the creek. From the Hatchery TH you will be starting out with, once again, another uphill. But now, as opposed to the Ponderosa pines that have dominated the first part of the trail, you will now be walking on sandstone surrounded by chaparral and other knee high grasses, and the charred remains of trees burned in 1990. However with all of the downed wood this has lead to great views. About 6.5 miles after leaving the Hatchery you will past Myrtle Trail and Ellison Creek. After crossing FR 144 you will continue through the burn area crossing over several more smaller creeks and then a few more ups and downs until out of no where East Verde River appears along with the Washington Park TH (approx. 33 miles from the 260 TH) along with it's scattered campsites.

After crossing the road at the Washington Park TH you will need to keep a close eye out for the trail markers, being sure not to turn onto the Col. Devin Trail, you will cross another road and walk past the Girl Scout cabin, working your way up the trail passing by another two creeks that had enough to filter from. You will continue to work you way up the hills, although nothing as tiring as the eastern end of the trail, you will soon happen upon the area hit hard by the February Fire. At the time I was there the forest was just now starting to sprout up small grass and shrubs, but for the most part was dominated by large blackened stumps and fallen trees. After you reach the outer edges of the fire you will pass Bear Spring and you will gradually, and then more rapidly descend down toward the Geronimo TH and Webber Creek (approx 43 miles from the 260 TH). From there the trail faintly makes its way up toward Milk Ranch Point, slowly but constantly climbing the next 4 miles, passing by both Pine and Red Rock Springs. At the time of my visit, Pine Spring was nothing more then a muddy spot on the ground, and Red Rock Spring had a constant trickle into its trough. However after filtering a few quarts from the Red Rock Spring the water tasted heavily of rust so we dumped out our water and made the last 4 miles of the trip with out any water. I would suggest not relying on those two springs, we were quite disappointed and after coming 28 miles we were unable to drink until we reached our car. After around another mile you will begin the long descent down Milk Ranch Point, lasting 2 miles until you intersect with the Donahue Trail, afterwards you will reach level terrain which after the previous 50 miles, you will be able to cruise through, walking though a way marked Ponderosa forest. Alas, 52 miles later you will reach the Pine TH and the cabins that surround it.
© 2006 - 2016 hikearizona.com

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One-Way Notice: This hike is listed as One-Way. When you hike several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Permit $$
None


Directions
Map Drive
Road
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
260 Trailhead - 27 miles east of Payson on Highway 260, on the west side

Pine Trailhead - 15 miles north of Payson on Highway 87 on FR 297

Trailheads West to East
Pine TH
Red Rock TH
Geronimo TH
Washington Park TH
Hatchery TH
See Canyon TH
260 TH

Connecting Trails
Babe Haught Trail #143
Col. Devin Trail #290
Derrick Trail #33
Donahue Trail #27
Drew Trail #291
Geronimo Trail #240
Horton Creek Trail #285
Myrtle Trail #30
Promontory Trail #278
Pump Station Trail #296
Red Rock Trail #294
See Canyon Trail #184
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
stay out of the scorching sun
prehydrate & stay hydrated
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