One of Payson's Best
Sedona has its well known Red Rocks, but few know how beautiful Payson's Pink Rocks can be. Stewart's Pocket area may very well rival Sedona for it scenic beauty. Flanked by Stewart Ridge on the South and the Mogollon Rim on the north it not only contains the amazing boulder formations of Granite Dells, but numerous peaks or knolls, many topped by pink rocks.
This lasso loop hike on the south side of Stewart Pocket / Granite Dells may be another one of Payson's best hikes. Going counter-clockwise on the loop portion, this loop initially uses Stewart Pocket - South Loop trail that climbs steeply 1/2 way up Stewart Ridge and then meanders along the grade in and out of the cool forest and rock formations. The views north of the Dells, knolls and Mogollon Rim are fabulous!
After 1.44 miles, right where SP S Loop turns N and descends, this extended loop branches off up to the Right (South). The intersection is somewhat hidden, but after 20 feet the trail is well established. Just look around for it. The trail continues up & down east, but holding grade and following the rim contour. Soon you will see the huge Balanced Rock to your North / East. You can not miss it. After 1 mile from the SP S loop junction, after passing the Balanced Rock, the trail makes a descending 180 degree turn and passes even closer to the Balanced Rock (and near the upper S side of this trail loop.) After another .9 miles the trail rejoins the SP S loop and continues back to the trailhead. This trail is primo for mountain biking. Throw in that the trail can not get muddy, seldom used, pretty shady, and no ATV's or dust, and you gotta luv it!
This trail was beautifully laid out and constructed by Payson's forest mountain bike gnomes. Unfortunately, they are a little protective of the trail and try to keep the intersections with the SP S trail hidden (like they tried to do with that loop before a lot of hikers discovered that loop...) Shame - this loop extension is too beautiful and so well constructed and laid out, everyone should enjoy and appreciate the gnomes' efforts!
seasonal small flows
National Forest land
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.