360 degree vistas!
This hike starts at either the E Phoenix Street & Promontory Way Trailhead or PAT's Round Valley trailhead on S Gibson Ct (off of Phoenix Str).
It hikes along the ridge line / hill tops and ends at a high rock outcropping which might be the best 360 views in Payson. Over the past few years, this hike has become popular and what was somewhat of a bushwhack following the ridge crest, is now a well established trail from either Gibson TH or the trail intersection with PAT's Round Valley Trail at the saddle.
There are 4 or 5 mini peaks depending on your count before getting to the final peak lookout. The GPS track uses part of "Phoenix Street Loop - Payson" to circumvent the first up and down hill, turning left on PATS Round Valley to the saddle, then turning right and 'head for the hills!' Or if you want to have calf burn from the get-go, head straight for the first hill to your east after entering National Forest land. This first 'hill' is the steepest of all the ascents. Accessing from S Gibson CT Trailhead can follow the PAT Round Valley trailhead up to the saddle, and taking a hard left on the trail, or take the "Stewart Pocket - Phx St / Gibson Ct PAT TH" trail to its highest point and look for the intersecting trail going further up on your right.
The destination has rock climbing opportunities and long straight-down 'the end' falls. All sweat equity is rewarded by unbelievable views, sunrises and sunsets. Throw in red rock, marble and travertine outcroppings, and a Native American look-out and what more could one ask? This last peak / hill is also at the end of the fire break. Though 2 more peaks (including the highest - Stewart Peak) loom before Hells Gate, proceeding by bushwhacking can be somewhat futile unless wearing leather chaps - if the cactus doesn't get you, the Cat's Claw will! Others seem to have found ways to those peaks without much trouble, so it may just depend on one's bushwhacking skills.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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.
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