register help

North Peak Trail #24, AZ

no permit
338 41 2
Guide 41 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
3 of 5 by 14
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,006 feet
Elevation Gain 3,400 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 24
Interest Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
9  2018-03-31
MDT - Pete's Pond - Pole Hollow Canyon Loop
9  2018-03-31
City Creek TH to Pete's Pond loop
6  2018-03-24 Jim_H
40  2017-12-27
Willow Springs Trail via Sheep Bridge
21  2017-11-06 david_allen_3
12  2017-05-21 KBKB
15  2017-03-26
City Creek Loop
14  2017-02-11
Mazatzal Divide to The Park
Page 1,  2,  3
Author aaronhales
author avatar Guides 6
Routes 0
Photos 273
Trips 7 map ( 47 miles )
Age Male Gender
Location Chandler, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Apr, May, Oct, Nov → 8 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:10am - 6:30pm
Official Route
7 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
up, up, and up
by aaronhales

Willow Fire
Please note the 2004 Willow Fire leveled this area. Passenger car access is no longer possible.

If you are a peak-bagger, this trail is for you! Averaging approximately 1000 feet elevation gain for every mile, this trail does not let up--but it's worth it. This trail takes you up the seldom climbed North Peak, which is the northern-most peak and 3rd highest peak of the Mazatzal range. Only Mazatzal Peak and the Four Peaks are higher.

The trailhead can be found about 10 miles west of Payson along a good dirt road easily passable to passenger car. After embarking on the trail for about 100 feet, you'll come across a sign informing you that you are indeed on the right trail. This beginning part of the trail travels through a nicely shaded riparian area thanks in part to Mineral Springs. You will also soon pass what appears to be an abandoned/collapsed mine. However, the shade soon ends and the trail will begin to climb as you approach the Mazatzal Wilderness boundary. From here the trail starts heading up a ridge that descends from the NE face of North Peak. As you go along this part of the trail, look to your left to get expansives views of Tonto Basin and behind you to your right to get a view of the Mogollon Rim in the distance.

After about 2 miles, the trail reaches approximately 6000 feet and the trail starts to level off here as it enters the cool and refreshing pine forest. Although several trees have succumbed to the bark beetle, there are still plenty of tall ponderosas to provide adequate shade. At about 2.5 miles you'll want to turn left (south) and head off trail to ascend the summit as the North Peak trail does not go to the summit (it hooks up with Mazatzal Divide trail). As you make your way through the forest towards the summit, it immediately becomes a relatively steep climb until you reach the top. At times the forest will be quite dense and a fair amount of bushwhacking will be required (but not too bad).

An hour or so is all that should be required to reach the summit and once you do you will be greeted by more lady bugs than you can possibly imagine. But don't forget the views! The views are expansive and rewarding from up here. To your south you can see Mazatzal Peak and Mt. Peeley. And of course the Rim to the NE. On a crystal clear day the San Francisco Peaks would be very visible to the North.

On the descent, head back the way you came until you run into the trail again. You can look west and get a good view of the sprawling forest that covers the upper elevations of the Mazatzal Wilderness as you descend. Don't forget to look back and see the summit of the mountain you just climbed. Also, note the century plants in their various stages. If your lucky, you might run into a deer like I did, but hopefully not a bear! I ran into the bear on the descent very near the trailhead in the riparian area. He was suprised to see me and I was surprised to see him. After he took off down the trail, he decided to turn and face me. This is where I decided to conveniently go off-trail so he'd have a harder time getting to me wanted if he chased me. Luckily it didn't happen!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

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

2003-06-22 aaronhales
    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 13 deeper Triplog Reviews
    North Peak Trail #24
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    City Creek TH to Pete's Pond loop
    Driving in, I noticed the development at the end of the pavement, where the two covered arenas are, were up for sale.
    HAZ retreat? ... /326742102

    First time hiking from the City Creek TH. Guess I never realized this is where the northern terminus for the MDT #23 was. The trail is a steady climb for 6 miles but in great shape. Great views all around. At the top, back on the AZT again after passing the Red Hills trail. We rollercoastered southbound on the MDT to the intersection with North Peak Trail. We passed and talked to one AZT'er going Northbound from San Diego. His shoes did not look like he was going to make it much farther, but he was not concerned.

    My goal for the day was hitting some new trails, as well as a stop at Pete's Pond. We went off trail westish at the the North Peak Trail junction, and made our way to Petes Pond. (Who is this Pete Guy?) . Petes was a great place for lunch as long as you don't mind being photographed by the two game cameras that are there.

    After Lunch we headed down the North Peak trail. As others have noted (which I read after the hike) the western .5 - .75 miles of this trail are hard to follow in spots. a GPS track is great to keep you in the vicinity of the "Trail". Once you drop off the top, the route finding is a piece of cake. It is a steep loose bugger in many spots.

    just North of the Mineral Creel TH we followed an old two track/creek bed in Pole Hollow Canyon. This was the gem of the day.

    It's obvious is gets traffic from both game and humans and at one time was cleared, cutting out some of the bends in the canyon.
    All of the human sign was within 1-2 miles of the Northern TH.

    Great weather on the day.

    Fauna on the day
    1 Elk, 1 Deer, 4 javelina, 1 squirrel, 1 Teva.
    North Peak Trail #24
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    MDT - Pete's Pond - Pole Hollow Canyon Loop
    Mazatzal Divide - AZT #23
    Well maintained. Glad it exists. My least favorite segment of #23. Nice chat w/~28yo NOBO thru hiker named something like trailpants, transplant or transcript. From San Diego, started Mar 9th, previously completed PCT.

    Pete's Pond
    We crawled 4.5 hrs to the pond. Great lunch break spot!

    The Park
    Nice to return to one of the few places I've camped.

    North Peak Trail #24
    Good luck finding the western 0.5 mi end. Great views heading East. That said I'd rather only hike this trail west due to loose footing on steep grades.

    Pole Hollow Canyon
    Pleasant surprise. The most continuously interesting hiking segment of the day. Much easier to negotiate the terrain than anticipated. Likely most enjoyable descending. Minor route finding and lack of maintained trail will keep the masses out.

    blue dicks, strawberry hedgehog, two white petal onion varieties
    North Peak Trail #24
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Trailhead access: We drove NF-414 to the Mineral Creek Trailhead from the north end of Rye. The drive wasn't especially difficult in a high clearance vehicle - I used a 4WD F-150.

    North Peak Trail: I inadvertently hiked almost all of the North Peak Trail. For the most part, route finding is straightforward, except for the last half mile before reaching the Mazatzal Divide Trail. (I didn't go all the way to the MDT - I probably had only an 1/8 of a mile left, but I didn't actually plan on going this far or in this direction. Once I realized my mistake, I turned back.)

    North Peak: I should have done more preparation in terms of studying other peoples routes and the topo map before doing this. I approached it from the NNW, seeing several cairns and numerous switchbacked trails-of-use on the way up. The lower slopes of the route up (that I took) were covered with leaves and pine needles which made the footing uncertain. Going up, this wasn't too bad, but I wasn't looking forward to descending via the same route. I hit a false summit and considered turning back, but eyeballing the summit showed that there might be a better descent.

    I descended towards the southwest and then turned towards the northwest to rejoin the North Peak Trail. It started out fine, but then turned into an adventure in which I nearly got cliffed out a few times. I also engaged in some serious bushwhacking to make my way back to the trail. In hindsight, it might have been quicker to descend the same way I came up.

    When I arrived back at the trail, I inadvertently took it towards the MDT for about half a mile. Once I realized my mistake, I turned back.

    It was a warmish day. I drank all of the six liters of water that I brought with me. I probably should have brought even more...
    North Peak Trail #24
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrating optionrated 1
    Pretty nice loop from City Creek trailhead - up MD #23 to The Park, down North Peak to Mineral Creek trailhead, then back north down Pole Hollow Canyon to the start. The climb up MD #23 is excellent, with good trail and big views (but zero shade, start early). Unfortunately the first two miles of North Peak trail leaving The Park are sheer misery - faint, heavily overgrown, downed trees, etc. Thankfully some kind soul has hung literally hundreds of red ribbons to mark the way through the manzanita jungle. Things improve greatly as you head down the ridge, but it will take a major effort to restore the upper section. Pole Hollow Canyon works nicely to connect the trailheads - generally easy hiking either down in the drainage or up on the bench on either side. Also did a side out-and-back from The Park south to Hopi Spring.

    Water along the trails:
    Plenty of flow in City Creek at the trailhead.
    Light flow in Wet Bottom Creek just south of The Park.
    Trickles from Hopi Spring.
    Light flow in Mineral Creek below the spring.
    North Peak Trail #24
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrating optionrated 1
    Threw together a last minute backpacking loop - did this because Chumley/FOTG's triplogs were the only recent backpacking trips close enough to town.

    The park is nice, Pete's pond is cloudy/silty, but a good source. Surprisingly it was about 45-50 degrees at sundown but warmed up to about 60 at midnight to 6AM and dropped back down to 45 around sunrise.

    Finished the MDT by trekking out to the Rock creek Trail/Hopi Spring. Some of these areas of the Mazatzals are actually recovering from the fire, but are still decades away from full restoration. Back to camp to pack up and head down the North Peak trail. The first two miles of this trail are pretty terrible. The last 2 to the trailhead are more reasonable. Thanks to Hank and Chris for posting the GPS as I needed it at one point where the trail does the most illogical detour. Neither of the trails has much repeat value.

    The mineral creek area is nice but the creek dried up before reaching the trailhead. Favorite part of the trip was seeing a herd of javelina while walking the shortcut back to the car.
    North Peak Trail #24
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Rock Creek North Peak Loop
    Lee wanted to see "The Park". Not sure of his logic, but he wanted to hike from Peeley or Barnhart or something to get there. I suggested Rock Creek. I mapped out an off-trail return from the North Peak trailhead to make for a nice loop.

    Rock Creek:
    This trail is incredibly well built. It is so well-constructed, that just a little bit of maintenance would restore it to near-new status. Somebody has been doing that. Not sure if it's the FS or somebody local, but the trail has now been completely cleared for the first 2.75 miles. In fact, the last half mile or so appeared to have been trimmed within the past month. All the trimmed branches were along the trail and still had leaves on them. Kudos to whomever is doing this maintenance, and hopefully it continues! The west side of the divide is easy to follow for a while ... before disappearing almost completely near Hopi Spring. Luckily you can simply hike straight down hill until you hit the AZT.

    Horse Creek Camp/Deadman Falls:
    Never having been there, I decided a quick detour would be worth it. The falls were mostly dry, but still an impressive sight. Horse Creek Camp has an awesome camp site, and really scenic slickrock pools. It was almost warm enough to swim.

    Mazzy Divide Trail:
    The trail climbs gently for a couple of miles before crossing a ridge below peak 7105. The views from up here are incredible. The Park comes into view and we knew it was all downhill to camp from there. We passed what should be the junction for the Willow Springs Trail, where a small AZT sign pointed the right way ... though there didn't appear to be any other way to go. I'm not sure what kind of travel Willow Springs gets, but at least at this junction it looks like it might be a chore to follow.

    The Park:
    We spent the night at the park. It's a dry camp, but a 15-minute off-trail trip down Wet Bottom Creek brings you to Pete's Pond, which appears to be a pretty reliable source of water. We actually found water much sooner in the creek bottom, but that is certainly just a seasonal occurrence. After a long day, we had a good fire, but it was only hot enough to completely melt the beer cans, only halfway destroying the dog food can. Probably helps that it only burned for 2 hours before I couldn't stay awake any longer!

    North Peak Trail:
    In the morning we headed out on North Peak, losing the route a few times on the top half as it is well-overgrown. But it was clearly also a well built trail and if you look for it, it's really not that tough to find and follow. We were surprised at how much of this trail is flat/up/down before really heading down hill. And when it does, boy does it go downhill! But the views on this trail are second to none. A couple of military jets flew by at about our altitude which was entertaining. The water at Mineral Spring and the last section of trail on the old road were a welcome relief from steep grade we had just finished.

    Completing the Loop:
    Cup was limping and Blanco had had a rough trip pushing his backpack through manzanita, so Lee made the right choice to keep them on the road. I was still interested in my off-trail shortcut so we split up with the plan to meet back at the truck. My trip went well, but there were a few more drainages than the topo map showed, and after almost 20 miles so far, fighting through those drainages and climbing the extra 1200 feet of AEG while still carrying a 25+ pound backpack was exhausting. When I reached the saddle by Boyd Mountain, I knew I was home free.

    About 7 minutes before I was due to arrive, I heard Lee honking the horn. I felt defeated. He had hiked 8.5 miles in less time than I had hiked 4.8. ](*,)

    All things considered ... it was an awesome weekend in a new area for me. Thanks to mazatzal for the 411 on Pete's Pond, which really was the key to it all working out as well as it did. :worthy:
    North Peak Trail #24
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    In general I agree with Darth Stiller's assessment of the trails. North Peak is steep and you may lose the trail a few times but It can be followed and is in about the same condition as 4 years ago. The Mazatzal Divide trail is easy going and in good shape as many AZT sections seem to be. The upper sections of Rock Creek are overgrown and very difficult to follow. The views on this route were good all around and I even found a chocolate egg in Rock Creek. The HAZ egg hunt was a tough one. ;) I took 4 quarts of fluids but ran low so I drank a treated quart from Rock Creek. The worst part for me was the constant tripping because my pants or shoe strings caught on a limb, rock or fallen tree. The Mazatzals are always an adventure.
    North Peak Trail #24
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    topohiker 2009-01-17 "I'll never hike the North peak trail again"
    Stiller 2009-03-22 "We started up the North Peak Trail, which is actually in very good condition."

    I gotta say I wouldn't sleep well recommending this trail to casual day hikers nor suggesting carrying a backpack up or down. There are some seriously steep grades. It's washed out and non-existent in a few areas. The upper portion is pretty much a cairn hunt. None of this bothers me, just trying to tell it as I saw it.

    We finished up a portion of the divide trail Bob was missing then took lunch in the upper origin of Wet Bottom Creek. Found some decent pools for filtering if needed. We hit North Peak on the return. This peak never registered much with me as a must do but I think it's pretty cool. The views are incredible. There is a cool pine forest that survived on SE saddle (my fav part of the day). It is steep. The bushwhacking is very minimal. I followed the ridges and found them to be decent off-trail travel considering all. About 55 degrees at start and 83 at finish seemed pretty toasty. I'm knocking 800ft off my posted route AEG to a more reasonable figure.

    Wildflowers are definitely a step up from light so I'm going with moderate. There are some good sized fields. One nice yellow field. Mostly whites and some purples mixed in. All are on the tiny side and best enjoyed in person.

    BTW... Bob really likes some song about his heart being a stereo? and repetitively insisted he is the sausage king of Chicago, whatever that means...
    North Peak Trail #24
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Ever since I hiked up North Peak Trail with Stiller and bypassed the peak I needed to return and summit the peak. I found a few people willing to take the abuse and it was on. The trail is still faint but someone was on the upper part and trimmed some of the manzanita sprouts. The off trail part is steep but you can see the peak so the direction is easy. It was warm at the start and cool on the summit. We saw a few deer and a horned lizard. The views on top are great. ... hCUw
    North Peak Trail #24
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    I joined topohiker today for what was planned to be a continuation of his May'08 hike (ref: his hike description-"Mazatzal Divide TH to Wet Bottom Creek"). We started southwest of Payson at the Mineral Springs TH on North Peak TR#24. This TR24 has a published distance of 3.5mls one way to end at the Mazatzal Divide TR#23. We were looking forward to hiking this new trail(for us) with hopes of covering a few additional miles south on TR23 before needing to turn around and head back the way we came in.

    The last posted HAZ trip log for this North Peak TR was in Dec'05 and did not sound pretty. It has now been an additional 3+ years since an update and 4+ years since the devastating "Willow Fire" in Aug'04 which pretty much took out most of this area and a majority of the Mazatzal Wilderness. Assuming that there had most likely been no trail maintenance since before Aug'04, I pretty much knew we should expect lots of dead/downed trees, trail washouts, needed route finding, and trail overgrowth. Well, I was correct on all these but I kind-of forgot about the added variable of snow fields at some trail elevations on the north facing slopes. We three started in at 9:am from the Mineral Creek TH and did not reach the west end intersection of 24/23 (at "The Park") until ~1:30pm and had clocked not 3.5mls, but 4.6 miles(some of which was off trail-roaming trying to find the trail).

    We had a very interesting discussion/negotation on our short lunch break at "The Park" regarding what was the best route back. There were really only two options: (1)back the way we came which we all understood would be difficult, could be risky(for safety reason), and also very time consuming(we knew we did not want to still be on the North Peak TR after dark); or (2)add another 4+ additional miles to our hike out by heading north on a safer, known trail- the Mazatzal Divide TR which would exit us at the City Creek TH but an additional 9+ hiking forest road miles from our vehicle at the Mineral Creek TH :-k Well, we first decided on the safety side to take the known longer Mazatzal TR back hoping that we could reach the ending TH before dark and thumb a ride with someone/anyone back to our vehicle. We then started out, then within 300ft of heading up #23, we found the actual trail intersection of 23/24(which we had previously missed coming in to "The Park" area); So now another short discussion and since we can now actually see a real trail section of #24, we make a 90 degree right turn and start heading back on the North Pk TR#24 :roll: . Then we closely follow what we see as this TR24 and less than another 300ft, we intersect the Mazatzal Divide TR23 again.. :lol: . So much for team decision making under pressure! I think we all three looked up to the sky at the same time and then almost immediately after, started hiking back north on the Mazatzal Divide Trail.. We three all do believe in a "higher :pray: power"!!

    Please also see topohiker's trip log and my attached trip "pic set with detailed note captions" to walk-you-through our adventure this day..much of which was very scenic with North Peak draped in snow!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To hike
    From Payson on HWY 87 drive west on Main Street. Stay on main road past a golf course, where the pavement ends and the road becomes FR 406. About 5.2 miles from HWY 87, turn left on FR 414 and go another 5.2 miles. Turn right and continue .2 mile to fork in road (roads forks 3-ways. turn left and go about 100 feet to Mineral Creek trailhead)

    joe bartels 2011-09-30 High clearance may be possible. On this day there was a deep rut approximately 2 miles before Mineral Creek Trailhead. The speed and angle you hit it will determine your fate without four wheel drive.
    $17 3L Hydration Bladder
    help comment issue

    end of page marker