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Boulders Loop Trail - PATS, AZ

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Guide 33 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson S
3.4 of 5 by 13
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 2.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,561 feet
Elevation Gain 200 feet
Accumulated Gain 300 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 4.2
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Possible & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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5  2019-08-10
Stewart Pocket / the Joint
6  2019-06-13
Boulder Loop
3  2016-08-26 jtaylor
13  2016-03-31 outdoor_lover
10  2016-02-28
Stewart Pocket Loop Payson
6  2015-08-03
Stewart Pocket Loop Payson
5  2015-04-05
Stewart Pocket Loop Payson
22  2014-09-11
Monument Peak Loop - PATS
Page 1,  2,  3
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:14am - 6:21pm
Official Route
5 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
The big attraction in Stewart's Pocket
by PrestonSands

Note: FR #435 is currently blocked about 1/4 mi from the "Boulders Trail" sign. This will add to the posted distance.

This loop hike is made up of the Boulders North Trail and the Boulders South Trail, collectively known as the Boulders Loop Trail. Now a part of the Payson Area Trails System or P.A.T.S., this scenic loop hike takes one through the eroded granite formations of Payson's Granite Dells. This description is of a clockwise hike. Pay close attention to the P.A.T.S. trail signs to avoid taking a wrong turn onto one of the area's numerous atv paths.

From the trailhead sign, the Boulders Trail drops down and then crosses the eroded channel of Stewart Creek. Once across, the Boulders Trail immediately arrives at a signed junction, where it splits into the Boulders North and Boulders South Trails. Take a left onto the Boulders South Trail. This trail soon reaches an open, sandy flat with views of the area's boulder formations. To the south, Gibson Peak's rugged facade towers high above. The trail departs the flat to ramble southwest along the route of a dry creek bed, while heading toward a prominent needle.

Approaching the one mile point, the Boulders South Trail turns west and becomes more of a cross country route, traveling along sandy washes and bedrock in places. Watch for trail emblems nailed to trees to stay on route.

The trail travels through a wide pass and turns north at 1.5 miles, before reaching the wooded course of Stewart Creek at 1.7 miles. The Boulders South Trail meets the Cypress Trail and the Boulders North Trail at a signed junction in the creek bottom. Turn right (east) onto the Boulders North Trail.

The Boulders North Trail follows the gently descending wash of Stewart Creek, and weaves in and out of stands of Rocky Mountain juniper and Arizona cypress. A few willows, raspberries, and other moisture loving plants cluster around the occasional moist patch in the creek bed.

Stewart Creek pinches into a small box at 2.2 miles, tumbling through granite bedrock, while the trail bypasses this section by climbing over a small ridge. As the trail descends to the creek again, the terrain opens up to reveal a fine view to the east down Stewart Canyon.

Back along the creek, the Boulders North Trail passes through a nice stand of cypress, skirts the north side of a large boulder outcropping, and arrives back at the signed junction with the Boulders South Trail at 2.6 miles. Take the Boulders Trail back across Stewart Creek's gravel chasm to return to the trailhead at 2.7 miles.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2008-11-05 PrestonSands
  • PATS map
    area related
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 of 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
Boulders Loop Trail - PATS
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Headed to Stewarts Pocket to get some easy trad miles in and learn a few things about aid and jugging up fixed lines with Pernell. All the trad leads were solid moderates. Kryptonite was by far the best of them, a true hand crack with a blank face, so if offered some nice practice in that area for me.

I took a solid little whipper on Dank and Dabby. Thankfully, Pernell is a pro and was literally able to get in just enough slack to prevent what would have been a pretty painful decking. I had just cleared the bulge and with a solid right fist jam tried reaching across body for my number four, as I knew I was getting dangerously high above my second piece. The awkward cross body movement killed my center of balance and the crack spit me right out. I also believe with the bulge and movements of this crack should go 5.9, but doesn't matter and no excuses.
Boulders Loop Trail - PATS
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Had to go to Payson today...Before I did, I made a Purchase based on a Recommendation...I've been wanting to get some Trail Runners for some time. Today was the Day. So the Hike had 3 Purposes... Check out the Shoes, Gauge the Ankle, and just get on a damn Trail again... :sweat: Good Trail to Test the Ankle without Folding it in Half again. I did it without a Brace and was pretty cautious on a couple of Areas. To say that I'm now Paranoid with no Confidence is an Understatement. And I know the Ankle is still Weak. But I need to go Braceless with Low Cut Shoes as much as I can to get some Strength back. I think, all things considered, that it went well today. I might be Pushing it a tad, but I'm trying to be careful about it...

The Shoes...Ultra Comfortable right out of the Store. By Mile 2 I had a Hot Spot going on the Ball of my Right Foot. By the Time I got back to the Car, I was limping on my Right Foot instead of my Left Ankle... :lol: It was a Blister that luckily didn't break...Hmmm...Not sure what to do about that other than try some different Socks??? Not used to having Shoes that give me Blisters, especially on the BOTTOM of my Feet... :o

It threatened to Rain up there all Day. Luckily it never got with it because I was totally unprepared for Rain...
Felt good to get out, even for a Short Hike...Need to get a few more of those in and get the Mental Game back too...I've got too many Plans coming up quick.... :sweat:

For a "City" Trail, it's a Beautiful little Hike...The Rocks and Cliffs and little Peaks were Awesome... :)
Boulders Loop Trail - PATS
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First time on the PATS. I'd been reluctant to check this trail system out, but the suggestion of a neighbor swayed me so I looked up a couple of loops in the area. This was the first of two on the day. This hike was mostly off trail and up dry creek beds and washes with the first and last miles on actual trail. Some spots have the feel of seclusion and then around the next bend is an old sofa and a TV full of bullet holes. Pleasantly surprised to not encounter a rattler on such a warm day and in what seemed like ideal rattler territory. At one point I did spook a pair of owls who took off right above my head and swooped into higher trees. This was a cool little hike to get me started but I had my eyes on the ridgeline looming over me and headed for Gibson Peak next.
Boulders Loop Trail - PATS
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This is where I grew up as a young boy. It was a wonderland as a boy and it still is as an adult. I just love this place. The rear deck of our house looked directly at this view. We lived in a small subdivided acreage community about two miles from here that the locals referred to as Granite Dells. I was too young back then to really appreciate just how special it was. Back then there were only about two homes within a one mile radius of us. Now we can barely find our old house. Its still a very special area to live. There’s just a few more homes now. I've been wanting to photograph Stewart Pocket for about two years. I can't drive down from the Rim in the late evening without seeing this beautiful place. The late day light is always so special out there. The rugged upper ridge line above Stewart Pocket can be seen for miles from numerous directions. This photo encompasses most of the Boulders Trail Loop. It was so special to spend the evening taking in this view from my mountaintop perch. I could so easily live in Payson again. Maybe someday...

Boulders Loop Trail - PATS
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Took a day trip to Payson and checked out this trail. We came to the cul-de-sac at the end of Phoenix St. and weren't sure where this trail started exactly. There was a handwritten sign that said "New trail behind fence", so we followed that. The trail here was very flat and wide. Pretty heavily forested here with lots of shade. We saw a few friendly people here strolling with their dogs.

After about 1 mile, we came to a clearing with signs marked for "Boulders North" and "Boulders South." We chose the South route, which took us counter-clockwise through the loop. The trail immediately started to elevate a little here, and we were glad to get at least a bit of a challenge after the very flat first mile. Lots of great views of the surrounding boulder formations. There were lots of ATV paths branching off the main trail, but the trail itself was wide and very well-marked.

Halfway through the loop there is a large, rocky wash followed by a very large clearing, which looks like an ATV playground. The trail continues around along the edge of a huge ditch, until eventually you're back in the shady junipers and pines. The trail follows a small creek here most of the way back to the trailhead. The creek was flowing lightly the whole way, and we saw a bit of nice fall colors here.

All in all a scenic and easy trail that would also be great for children and pets. Despite seeming very ATV-friendly, we saw no ATVs on this Sunday morning. We saw maybe 4 or 5 small groups of people. With the extra 2 miles from and back to the cul-de-sac from the trailhead, this came to about 4.7 miles total. My first triplog -- will get better photos next time!

A bit of autumn foliage around the creek.
Boulders Loop Trail - PATS
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Thnkfully the Hwy 87 brushfire was quickly extinguished ( ... es-hwy-87/ ), allowing me and my wife to head back up to rim country for a hike. (I had considered a hike near Wilhoit, but thought it too soon to drive through Yarnell.) This area seemed like it would be easy enough that my wife should be able to do a few miles of it, while allowing me to go a bit further.

The designated trail is braided with ATV/dirt bike trails, but if you pay attention to the many signs, you need not worry about straying. Plus, even if you get off trail, the hiking is relatively clear. (There was a prescribed burn there in 2008: ). The trail is wide and mostly free of obstacles; you can safely spend most of your time gazing at the scenery rather than your footing. The sand can be a bit deep in spots, though. The washes are not much different than the trails, and the most pleasant wash walking one could possibly hope for. In the few spots blocked by rocks or deadfall, the slope of the washes is a mild angle of only 5-20 feet ( ).

Wow, the rocks are awesome! :o And the way they are stacked on top of each other, really makes you wonder how they got that way. :-k My personal theory is alien overlords, like in "2001: A Space Odyssey".

The west-east wash ends at the local shooting gallery, by the large caged cairns on FR 435. There's a dead critter there, whose proximity to the shooting gallery I thought suspicious.

After the hike, my wife and I ate at the Buffalo Bar & Grill in Payson. PBR is the perfect post-hike beer: light and refreshing without an excess of flavor. My wife loved her Asian chicken salad, and my buffalo burger was mighty tasty as well. :)

I'll definitely return to explore more of that south/southeast Payson area ...
Boulders Loop Trail - PATS
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Finished initial flagging and adding cairns. More to be added later. You will love this route IF you like OFF Trail and the sounds of silence. No ATV's, no dust... Because you are following washes on the Off trail parts, minimum stratches (I always wear shorts...) Pics this day were added to the original description... Foliage is peak for Stewarts Pocket; never exceptional, but nice near the streams and springs. Yellows are beginning to fade...
Boulders Loop Trail - PATS
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entered from the cu-de-sac at the east end of E Phoenix, making this a lasso route. Good hike all seasons. Looking for early foliage. I hike this lasso loop many many times a year. Good exercise hike and scenic with ridge views and those house-big Granite Dell boulders. A can't miss (and shouldn't miss) short hike for all and right in Payson. Being exposed, can get a wee bit hot mid-day in the summer
Boulders Loop Trail - PATS
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This was the second hike of the day and really did salvage a day that would have been wasted on a lot of driving, a lot of gas, and way too much time in the wind.
After a hard week, and a frustrating day this simple easy to follow but very scenic, was very cathartic.
A word of note: The trail description implies that if you stay on trail that you are safe from ATV's. That's largely true for the North Loop but the South Loop is on an ATV trail and the tree markers shows the same throughout both loops. Having said that there were few ATV riders that we crossed paths with. But be careful. I wouldn't go full camo.
The Verbania is blooming well here.
Boulders Loop Trail - PATS
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A nice little after work night-hike. Hiked from the blockade (?!) at the Monument Trailhead on Granite Dells Road, and up the Boulders North Trail to where it meets the Cypress Trail. Returned the same way. Stewart Creek was flowing, and the critters were out. I spooked a lone javelina along the way, and saw fresh animal tracks from moments earlier at the creek crossings.

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From the junction of highways 87 and 260 in Payson, head east on highway 260 for 0.3 miles to the Granite Dells Road stoplight (next to Safeway). Turn right onto Granite Dells Road (Forest Road #435) and follow it for 3.85 miles to the large brown "Boulders Trail" sign next to the road. A fiberglass signpost for "The Boulders" marks the start of the trail (see hike description).

2010-11-08 casfranklin writes: FR #435 is currently blocked about 1/4 mi from the "Boulders Trail" sign. This may be due to a large wash-out near the sign... About 50 feet before the sign is a large cairn marking the easiest descent to the dry Stewart's Creek bed. Crossing the creek bed diagnolly left is a large boulder marking the incline to the trail start.
page created by PrestonSands on Nov 04 2008 9:05 pm
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