The trail goes missing half way through..
This trail is very quickly being taken back to nature (half of it was completely missing). Likely because there's a very sturdy gate about 1/8 mile before the actual Pump Station, and no indication whatsoever that this trail even exists.
This is from the US Forest Service/Tonto National Forest Website as of August 2019: "Homesteaders created this trail to provide access to the Highline Trail. It has been rebuilt by Boy Scouts. The pump, from which the trail receives its name, pumps water from the Blue Ridge Reservoir, above the Mogollon Rim, into the East Verde River, to replace water used by Phelps Dodge Corporation for mining purposes in southern Arizona."
Given that we saw no signs for this trail near the supposed southern trailhead, and a very sturdy metal gate way out at the intersection of Forest Roads 32a and 32b, we instead continued driving to the well-signed Washington Park Trailhead. This is a decent trailhead (part of the Arizona Trail comes through here) but with no restrooms; just parking for 10-15 cars. It's in a nice section of ponderosa pine forest, and is next to the East Verde River, which is just small creek at this point but it was lovely to hear the flowing water. You can access the river from the trailhead and just before you reach it, at several pullovers.
So from the pre-loaded maps in the Hike Arizona Route Scout app for both Colonel Devin and Pump Station Trails, we figured we could access the Pump Station Trail by traveling out the Highline Trail to the east for about 1/4 mile to the northern end of the Pump Station Trail. That worked! There was a footbridge for the Highline Trail over the East Verde River almost immediately after leaving the trailhead. We found the Pump Station Trail junction pretty quickly and it was well-signed.
The trail started off OK. The trail was visible, but could tell was lightly used; needed to look for a few tiny cairns, and generally was OK where it was still high and rocky and not under a lot of tree cover. The trail does then approach the west side of the river, where it gets much shadier. But the trail also disappears very quickly. We had a couple of backtracks, where after a little while we'd find the trail again, but would quickly lose it. Finally, under much shade and having only the preloaded GPS track from Route Scout to follow, we just made our own way to the pump station. You can hear it about 1/4 mile away. We had to climb over a lot of tree deadfall and we really, really looked for any semblance of a trail, but the south 1/2 mile is essentially missing completely. We made it to the pump station and then realized how much more water comes from the station and into the East Verde River, so backtracked and found a crossing back over the creek upstream of the station where the flow was much lower. There's no obvious trails to and from the creek at this end; no signs, no obvious anything. We bushwhacked around the station which was a pain, then walked back the road 32b and 32a to the car.
Honestly, if you want to enjoy the upper end from the Highline Trail just to hear the water and get under the trees, that's great, but I'd turn around when the trail goes away.
Check out the Official Route.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking 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.