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Houston Trail - PATS, AZ

no permit
44 14 1
Guide 14 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson N
2.3 of 5 by 3
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 9.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,041 feet
Elevation Gain 415 feet
Accumulated Gain 990 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.85
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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2  2016-04-24
Houston Loop Trail - PATS
8  2015-10-24
Houston Mesa Campground
40  2014-07-25
Houston Loop Trail - PATS
13  2011-09-25 DarthStiller
10  2011-07-31 DarthStiller
21  2009-03-06 tyrone anderson
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → 7 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Spring
Sun  6:10am - 6:28pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
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by HAZ_Hikebot

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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.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Houston Trail - PATS
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Wife was out of town, so I wanted to do something that was not too isolated. Been in Prescott a lot lately, and had been considering a combination of Houston Trail and Houston Loop. That seemed a bit long, and not quite adventurous enough, so I came up with a plan to start from Shoofly, cross Walnut Flat, descend an unnamed canyon, take PATS to Lockwood Gulch, head down that to the housing area, cross the barren zone, pick up PATS again, following that to the base of Houston Creek, then up the creek back to the top of Walnut Flat, then back to Shoofly.

There was very little traffic on Hwy 87. I set cruise control at 70, and only braked once, for traffic, even through the tight curves, on the way up. Made better time than I expected, and was on the trail -- or at least checking out the ruins -- by 7:20 a.m. The Shoofly signs were much more interesting than the ruins. I've seen better unregistered ruins. :|

On my way to the head of the unnamed canyon, I came upon an old cowboy, and his mare "Ruby". Had a good long chat with him. He's been working in the area since the 50s. Not much feed for cattle up there these days. Nor for elk, which being in the two most popular hunting zones in Arizona -- 22 and 23 -- have been considerably thinned over the years. He used to see heards of 30-40. He was looking for elk antlers, and used to find three or four every trip, but not much lately. There was certainly evidence of elk everywhere. Walnut Flat, and the canyons below it, is a virtual elk scat minefield.

There followed a very mellow descent into the unnamed canyon. Negotiating the brush on the way down, and along the canyon bottom, was not a problem. When I got to PATS, I low-crawled the barbwire fence. If I had gone 200 yards west, there would have been no need. :roll: No big deal, though.

Lockwood Gulch was similar to the unnamed canyon, with the addition of some small cascades. Too bad there was not a drop of water in the gulch.

Anybody know what the deal is with the barren zone between the houses at the north edge of Payson and the Tonto National Forest? (Yeah, it's Tonto even way up there.) Burn area? Burn buffer? Something else? :-k

By the time I got back on PATS, I was feeling the heat.I didn't want to beat brush up the entire length of Houston Creek, so called an audible, and continued on PATS for another mile, rather than looping south towards Mayfield Canyon. Good thing I do a thorough map / sat recon before every hike, because doing so enabled me to pick up a very old trail up Houston Creek canyon, rather than bushwhacking up the canyon bottom. (Which was bone dry.) The top half of the trail was even cairned. :thanx:

Back on Walnut Flat, the temps were well into the 90s, and there was very little shade on the mile and half back to Shoofly. Even the cacti looked dehydrated. :sweat:


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Houston Trail - PATS
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Started in Chaparral Pines community, took its access trail into Tonto National Forest and linked up with Houston Mesa Trail. However, I ended up on another trail that the topo maps show as a jeep trail, that dumped me out northeast of Mesa del Caballo, just south of the Shoofly Ruins. I then hiked Shoofly Ruins and then just jogged down Houston Mesa Road to the Houston Mesa TH. This route was nice in that I went up on Houston Mesa, whereas the Houston Mesa Trail stays below it the whole time.

Heard an elk stomping around and snapping tranches in the bush off the trail leading to Houston Mesa from Chaparral Pines, but it was lost in the manzanita and I never actually saw it.

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
To get to the trail head from Phoenix area: Take 87 N. straight through Payson toward Pine. You will go through a round about with a Home Depot to the West. Once past the round about there is a turning lane to go right. This Right is Houston Mesa road. Take Houston Mesa RD approximatly 1 mile. You will see a trail head sign and a good sized parking lot on the right. Drive in, park, load up with some water and enjoy. Watch for deer, quail, and I will jump up elk half of the time.
page created by tyrone anderson on Aug 13 2008 7:36 pm
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