well established loop with views & options
This lasso hike is much more than a nice short established mountain bike lasso trail with great views, that descends into Stewart Pocket and Granite Dells. This trail is a connector trail that connects all of the trails inside Stewart Pocket with the miles of trails South of Stewart Ridge down to Round Valley and beyond. It connects the PATS Round Valley Trailhead at the new Gibson Court cul-de-sac (still not on many maps - use Google Satellite map option) off of the newish E. Phoenix Str extension (also missing from some maps) with the PATS Cypress Trailhead at the cul-de-sac at the end of E. Phoenix. There are short spurs off this trail that connect with all the new cul-de-sacs off of the new E. Phoenix Street extension, so one can tailor many trail options and lengths. The loop section goes around a mountain bike park with a labyrinth of trails, bridges, jumps, slickrock, etc. At the far eastern end of the loop, it briefly overlaps the western part of the Stewart Pocket South loop. Thus for a 4.5 mile hike, make this a lasso figure 8 trail! Using this connector, the trail possibilities are really endless! Payson's mtn bike forest gnomes did an amazing job of constructing and maintaining this trail... Enjoy!
When the 2 new developments in Stewart Pocket were approved and infrastructure (roads, etc.) were put in, many old trails following Mud springs and Stewart Creek were gone or were now on private land. The Tonto Forest Gnomes built a whole network of excellent trails, now on public lands to circumvent the developed private property...
Starting at the TH at Gibson Court cul-de-sac. Head south & up on the Round Valley trail for about 50 yards to the National Forest boundary (fence, etc). Take a hard left onto the somewhat hidden single-track trail right inside the NF fence line. The trail is well established, except over the slickrock outcroppings. The trail over the slickrock is discernible from a distance. At times the trail has switchbacks, both down and up, so be alert for direction changes. Near the loop intersection, there are 2 faint spurs off to the left, that go to cul-de-sacs. The loop intersection is easy to miss, it is by a 5' boulder (GPS route is tracked counter-clockwise...). You may see a small wash wood bridge down and to your left right after passing the intersection... From here the trail goes through areas of slickrock, and at times with switchbacks. When in doubt stay right, even if means reversing direction (a switchback). As mentioned, this is where there is a mountain bike park with a maze of trails, bridges, jumps and slickrock. Just always keep right on the trail... In an area with mature Ponderosa Pines there will be a spur trail bearing to the L, and a little later at the trail's low point, coming in from behind you on the L. These spurs go to the PATS Cypress TH on the E. Phoenix Str cul-de-sac. The latter being the Stewart Pocket South Lasso trail, which you will now overlap for a few hundred yards. After crossing a wash and a slight rise to a flat area, you come to an intersection where the Stewart Pocket South 'Loop' begins - going right does the loop C-C. For this trail loop, stay straight. In a 100 yards, there is another intersection with this trail going hard left. (Straight is the clockwise Stewart Pocket South loop...) This intersection and the left turn can be really hard to see or find. There may be a cairn, and/or bike tracks going both ways. The intersection is on a section of slickrock, and if you miss the turn, you will drop off the slickrock and start curving to the right up through some boulders - go back! After finding the L turn, the trail can be hard to follow. It goes over a shallow broad wash then up over a slickrock rise or knoll, curving almost 180 to the right, then 180 to the left. With care and studying ahead, the trail can be distinguished. From the top of this slickrock knoll (with a mountain of huge boulders and rock formations right across a wash to your North), the trail heads back west crossing a few 4 way intersections (the first, goes to PATS Cypress TH), a bridge, goes by an apartment-size boulder by its lonesome, and the last bridge, before scampering up to the Y intersection completing the loop portion. Head west backtracking to the Round Valley trailhead.
seasonal streams and springs
National Forest, but not popular here
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.