Though it is a bit of a trek from Phoenix, this was worth it! There are several trails in the park, leading to an overlook or an "underlook" of the Natural Bridge. The trails are short, but you shouldn't be in a hurry. This is a place for Thoreau-esque sauntering. (except when it's crowded!) The massive dripping bridge is set against a beautiful ponderosa/juniper/ agave backdrop.
We took the Gowan Trail, which first crosses the bridge (you may have no idea you are on it right away, because it is BIG), and then snakes down the side to the underlook. Footing can be a little iffy here, but it is still a maintained, wood-chipped trail.
What a beautiful view! One of my favorite places to be on earth is to be watching water droplets fall slowly from way way above! I can just imagine how it would be after a rain. The travertine ridges show where water has seeped over thousands of years.
And thus things went until recently on the eastern half of the bridge. When the ranchers/rangers (I'm not sure who) diverted the water away, to specific areas, they cut off the supply to the eastern portion, and so, that spot is no longer growing, according to a volunteer we met.
We crossed under the bridge, heading through the giant cavern, did some minor clambering, and through to the other side. We took our time taking in the beautiful waterfall and stream. We continued up the creek bottom, on Pine Creek Trail, which involved some minor rock-hopping. When we got to the "exit" point, we longed to explore further up the creek, but instead headed on the short, steep trail back up through the Ponderosa to the parking lot.
This trail would make a fun addition to a hike near Payson, or as a spot to hike a little and have a picnic!