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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Pine Canyon Trail #26, AZ

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815 119 4
Guide 119 Triplogs  4 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson N
Rated
3.6
3.6 of 5 by 34
 
13
Statistics
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 9.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,380 feet
Elevation Gain 1,880 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,569 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 17.76
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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9  2019-09-21
Pine Canyon Dickerson Flat attempt
The_Eagle
15  2019-09-03
Rock Wall Bear Foot Loop
markthurman53
5  2019-08-17
Pine Creek Canyon upper
The_Eagle
8  2019-07-04 Sredfield
1  2019-05-25
Bearfoot-Pine Canyon
The_Eagle
11  2018-09-16 RaineJane
15  2018-09-01
Red Geronimo Milk East Pine Bear
The_Eagle
43  2018-08-30
Pine Canyon / Donahue loop
DixieFlyer
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Author Trishness
author avatar Guides 14
Routes 0
Photos 720
Trips 187 map ( 1,244 miles )
Age 60 Female Gender
Location Apache Junction, AZ
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Preferred   Oct, Sep, Apr, May → 7 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:14am - 6:23pm
Official Route
 
26 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Buena Vista to the Mogollan Rim
by Trishness

Likely In-Season!
2015: Switchbacks were added to sections of this trail. It no longer passes Dripping Springs.

Stats: Page stats are from the more popular bottom trailhead. Going up this trail is 2,800 feet of AEG. Going down this trail still nets 1000 feet AEG. The bottom of this trail is not only warmer it's more exposed.

There are several ways to savor this beautiful hike. The first is by far easier way, from Rte 87 (MP 279) and head south down the rim about 7.5 miles to the Pine TH. If you want to live on the edge and hike something a bit more difficult, then hike it from the Pine TH UP the rim, a 2800 ft elevation gain. Mark and I decided we wanted to take the challenging route so we left his vehicle at the northern terminus and took my car to the Pine TH in order to do a shuttle hike.

It was a beautiful morning with 45 degree temp when we left the Pine TH at 6:30 AM... a three quarter full moon hung out to our west as the rosy glow from the rising sun to the east. Colors splashed across the sky in all hues of purple, red and orange as the sun rose over the rim, then gave way to our perfect chalcedony blue sky. About 1/4 mile from leaving the Pine TH, we reached the intersection of the Highline Trail but continued on our quest up Pine Canyon. It is a well traveled and well blazed trail although we saw no other hikers today.

The terrain is steep and rocky as you make your way up the rim. But as you steadily climb you have awesome views of the valley below~~~Payson, the Mazatzal's to your south and west, Milk Ranch Point to your east. Magnificent views. The trail gains 2000 feet through some beautiful areas of maples, boxelders and gambel oaks which are just starting to change color with the season when we hiked it today. Passed the signs for Cinchhook and Stradling Canyons as we approached the crest of the Mogollan Rim but we weren't interested in any side trip~~~It took us 5.5 hours to climb this although we spent a good 1/2 hour resting on a ledge looking over the valley and had lunch.

This was a beautiful and challenging hike up the Mogollan Rim. The only casualty on this trip was my 35mm camera which was lost after the strap broke and it crashed to the rocks below. All my pictures were lost.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2004-10-07 Trishness
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One-Way Notice
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.
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 46 deeper Triplog Reviews
Pine Canyon Trail #26
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Pine Canyon Dickerson Flat attempt
7:45am start with temps perfectly in the mid 40's.

The plan was to see if I could find a way up to Milk Ranch Point, via Pine Canyon Tail #26, Darling Rock Trail and a side canyon I had not been in before.

The Scouts have a signed a side trail called Darling Rocks. I followed this well used trail, to Darling Rocks. Quite some time ago, they flagged quite a few of the trails they created in the area with red metal tags. I was surprised that past the "Darling Rock" area these flags and sometimes a decent trail existed. I followed these until the turn for my side canyon. This is the part I wish I'd brought my long pants. Thick in spots and sweet boulders. After about a mile and 700' of gain, I could see the top of the rim. Unfortunately, it was at the top of a 80'-100' dry fall. Still a good time, I retreated the way I came.

I spooked 3 deer drinking from Pine Creek on the way out
Pine Canyon Trail #26
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Pine Canyon - Bearfoot
Met Ray at the Pine TH for this one.
Breezes kept the temps perfect.
Since the reroute no longer takes you past Dripping Springs, We side tripped over to it, and it was ....dripping.
We ran into, and talked to the guy that did this reroute.
Pine creek has a nice flow at the Bearfoot Trail.
Nice easy day of hiking.

Pine Canyon Trail #26
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Nice big loop around Pine. Clockwise from the Strawberry trail head: BF13 > PC26 > OS16/AZT25 > W251 > PS15.

Bearfoot steadily improves along its length and the new bridge over Pine Creek is fiberglass art. Warm and very dry conditions, only a few meager patches of snow. The Pine-Strawberry fuel reduction program has done an incredible amount of work - several long stretches along this loop have nearly all the chaparral chopped down to a foot high, hundreds of acres have been thinned.
Pine Canyon Trail #26
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Good-Pine-Oak-Walnut-StrawBearyfoot
Denny and Joe refused to hike with me 2 weeks in a row.
The Dbacks kept me up late. I slept in until 6:00 and didn't hit the trail until 8:00.

Got dropped off at the Good Enough Trail. First time on this one. It's in decent shape and a short steady climb to The Pine Canyon Trail. Passed up Wild Bill Spring on the way up.

Pine Canyon Trail #26 yields great views down to Pine and back into the canyon. It's a super highway. A brief stint on the Highline trail and I was at the Pine TH.

I had not been on the Oak Spring Trail #16 in over 7 years, since we did the AZT in 2010. It really has a lot to offer. You get to peak at "The Narrows" (on my list) on your way to the picturesque Bradshaw Tank and meadow area. The blind has been changed up from last time through, with the same familiar note inside.

The drop and views into Oak Spring Canyon is what I'd remembered most about this trail. It did not disappoint.

I was going to take a side trip to relive the Butterfly Whisperer moment [ photo ] [ photo ] , but I was on a timetable.

I'd forgotten everything about the Walnut Trail #251. I'm sure there may be some walnut trees here, but most of what I saw were Oaks and Maples on the cusp of their seasonal turning. Worth a visit for sure.

The Pine Strawberry Trail #15 is a MTB highway, yet I saw none. This is an enjoyable trail that has had some slight reroutes since my last time through.

I finished up on the Bearfoot Trail.

I saw 4 hikers total on an absolutely perfect weather day.

Foliage
Walnut Canyon's maples are just starting to turn.
Pine Canyon Trail #26
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I hiked south from the Cinch Hook Trailhead, at the intersection of AZ-87 and FR 6038.

I could hear Pine Creek from the top of the Rim. That had me wondering if I would be able to cross the creek, or if it would be a raging torrent like the one that killed that poor family in nearby Ellison Creek last week.

Despite the recent heavy rain, Pine Canyon Trail #26 was not muddy and footing was never an issue. However, plant droplets had me soaked by the time I reached the bottom of the switchbacks. I only had to duck one fallen tree, but there were several more hovering just upslope.

Halfway down the switchbacks, I saw some colored bits in the dirt & leaf litter. I kneeled down, discovering there were scads of plastic beads. Thankfully, who ever dropped them on the trail also dropped a small plastic tub. It took me about 15 minutes to pick them all up. It also inspired my hike video’s music selection. :D

With all the vegetation along the canyon bottom, by the time I got to Pine Creek, I was even wetter.

Pine Creek did appear up a bit, but not much. It was nowhere near a raging torrent. The massive tree that previously served me as a bridge, did not appear safe to cross, so I searched a bit for a dry crossing. There were too many trippy plants to either side, and I was wet anyway, so I rock-hopped across.

New signage has been installed all along Pine Canyon Trail #26. I stopped by Tiny Cave, where I took my first break. Lacking hundreds of 12 year old girls, it was blissfully quiet, the only sound the peaceful rush of Pine Creek.

Pine Canyon Trail #26, between Cinch Hook Trailhead and Camp Lo Mia, is one my Top 10 Arizona Hikes. :y:

The recently installed Bearfoot Bridge is a half mile south of Tiny Cave. The bridge has a dedication plaque and some bear prints in the cement. It’s a really nice build. Apparently, there is also a “livestock crossing”, though I have never seen any cattle or sheep in Pine Canyon, while neither elk, deer nor bears comprende ingles.

Despite the Bearfoot Trail #13’s sun exposure, it was quite slippery, due to a thin mud layer, in many spots.

The wierdest thing I saw all day happened when I stopped to admire an oddly twisted manzanita. As I looked up — it was quite high — I spotted half a deer leg hanging in its branches.

Once Bearfoot Trail #13 gets up a couple of hundred feet, it starts twisting to an absurd degree. More twists than the plot of a daytime soap. There multiple twists where one side of the twist is only only 10 yards, and less than 10 ft. elevation difference, from the other side of the twist. The trail also drops, or ascends, several contours, for reasons I could not fathom, when it seems like it would have been easier to follow a contour. Those odd ups & downs add up to 2/3s of this hike’s total gain. Not to criticize, because the trail crew really did a fantastic job. :)

Since I started spending more time photographing flowers, I’ve figured out that they are one of the best places to look for wildlife. (Bugs, obviously, not mammals.) Bird song serenaded me throughout the day. During one break, I tried to lure the birds in by scattering crushed vinegar chips, but they weren’t buying it. At various times, I saw deer, elk and bear scat, but the only big critters I saw were a pair of female elk having lunch across AZ-87 from Old Country Inn in Pine, where my wife & I stopped for post-hike linner and rehydration.

Hike Video: [ youtube video ]

Wildflowers
Quantity is low, but variety high.
Pine Canyon Trail #26
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Bear-East End-MRP-Pine Canyon
I've had this one drawn up for quite some time. I was always interested to explore a bit more of Milk Ranch Point and find a way to connect MRP to the Upper Pine Canyon TH.

The East Rim Trail is still steep one. I was shocked to actually run into someone else on the way up. Or should I say, he ran into me. I chatted with Ryan for a bit before he disappeared above me.

I tied a bunch of old FR's together with some off trail, to follow the western side of MRP. There are quite a few spots where you get some decent views. Around the NE portion of this track, the breeze picked up a bit and I could hear a rumbling in the distance. I checked the radar on my phone and there was a big one coming my way.

I skipped lunch and decided to try and get off the rim before it hit. A good thought, but no luck. I hiked in a steady rain with Sky Crackles in the area. Luckily only one crackle that did not allow me to count between light and sound. I did a quick 360 to look for hits and saw none.

I had planned to try the area close to the rim on the north edge of Pine Canyon, but the storm had me wanting to stick to the middle ground.

Finally on the Pine Canyon Trail, I started down the switchbacks. I found a rock outcropping to get partially out of the rain and sit for a moment. After 20 minutes, the rain let up enough for me to complete my hike.
Pine Canyon Trail #26
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Cinch Hook Area-Pine Canyon
Farther's Day Weekend hike with my son Ben and the Dood.

Got dropped off South of Cinch Hook above the rim and 'splored the area a bit. Hit some FR's to some viewpoints and did a bit of offtrail to keep it real.

Tickled the General Crook for a bit before heading down the Pine Canyon Trail. It was good to get under tree cover at it was a warm one even in Pine. Pine Creek is still running, cool, clear and refreshing.

Always great to hike with my kids.
My youngest was out of town and my oldest is serving out of country.

Short Vid :next: [ youtube video ]
Pine Canyon Trail #26
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Pine Canyon - Darling Rocks - Bearfoot
First time hiking the Southern part of the Pine Canyon Trail #26.

There has been a lot of recent trail work with re-routes and added switchbacks. They have done a nice job going through the tall pines with this trail. I passed not a single hiker on the trail on this perfect weather day.

Pine Creek was flowing and we had a relaxing lunch next to it.
Pine Canyon Trail #26
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Went backpacking on April Fool's Day with 9 (nine) other members of the Arizona Backpacking Club (ABC) this weekend taking on the Pine Canyon Trail near Pine and Strawberry, Arizona. We left cars at the Bearfoot Trail just east of the town of Strawberry and then carpooled and drove 10+ miles to the Pine Canyon TH. We went through a gate and parked 100+ yards beyond the gate. Everyone got their backpacks on and then it started snowing! We all said to ourselves.....APRIL FOOLS! Luckily, it only lasted about 30 minutes. There were 3 dogs on this trip. A Toy Poodle named PokaDot, a Cockapoo named Mazie and a Black Lab, named Bella. They were all awesome dogs and I’ll talk more about them later. (I love dogs although I don’t have any….). This backpacking trip is considered a beginners trip because it was actually a pretty easy hike for the most part—only 4 miles the first day and 6 miles the second day. The first day was all downhill. Downhill can be more challenging sometimes than uphill. My thighs were screaming as the trail was rather steep with loose rocks, climbing over many fallen trees across the trail, and some creek crossings. It gave me a great workout on the thighs! It was an absolutely beautiful hike and I loved it. We found a perfect camping spot just before the Girl Scout Camp (Camp Lo Mia) beyond the “Tiny Cave” for the ten of us near Pine Creek. The water was flowing wonderfully. We built a campfire and set up camp with plenty of room to spread out; filtered our water in the flowing Pine Creek, and had our dinners. Our trip leader, Wren, brought three chicken legs and asparagus and grilled them over the fire. Now that’s what I call a good backpacker’s meal! Sure beats my Ramen Noodles with dehydrated chicken! We sat around the campfire until around 9 p.m. and then all hit their sleeping bags. It got cold that night—down in the high 30’s and most had cold feet but all survived the night. (Those with dogs I think fared better because of the extra heat—hence the group ….”Three Dog Night.” We had a leisurely morning getting up around 7 a.m. Wren regenerated the camp fire because it was mighty cold. After breakfast, we broke camp and hit the trail at 9:30 a.m. and took the Bearfoot Trail for 6 miles. The trail was mostly uphill but wasn’t too steep. We reached end of Bearfoot Trail at our first parking spot where some left their cars. The drivers (me included) headed up Highway 87 to the northern parking area at the Pine Canyon TH and drove back down to the group near Strawberry. We all headed to “That Brewery” for lunch. All were pretty hungry. The food and beer were EXCELLENT! Had a nice drive back to Phoenix and called it a very successful and fun weekend!

azcentral.com/story ... 525/
Pine Canyon Trail #26
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Friendship and Pine Canyon
I've had a stupid chest cold for going on 2 weeks now and wasn't even sure how well I'd be able to tolerate a hike. I had some down time in Pine and decided to hit a new trail and climb the rim and play awhile in Pine Canyon. The plan was to take the gentle grade up of Pine Canyon Trail, until i hit "The Switchbacks". We'd see how the lungs would tolerate the climb.

First I parked just inside the gates of the Private LDS Camp Lomia. There's a spot for 2/3 vehicles. There was a big sign just past where I parked indicating No Trespassing. The signage at the Trailhead gave indications on how to hike to all the nearby trails, and there was no indication that the trail was private. So on I went on the eastern side of the Friendship Loop to get to the Pine Canyon Trail. It's not a well worn trail, but with all the Red Metal Markers on the trees, one should not get lost.

I've always liked the Pine Canyon trail, except it can sometimes get kind of crowded. No trouble on this Saturday, I did not see a soul all day. I made the climb of the switchbacks, hacking all the way to the top.

Great views from "The Switchbacks". On the was back, I decided to follow the Darling Rocks Trail. I thought I remembered what the payoff was at the end, but wasn't sure. The hike along this path takes you past some nice Lunch/Break spots along Pine Creek. No need to go to the end unless your curiosity gets the best of you.

On the way back, I hit the Western side of the Friendship Loop Trail. This side of the loop is thinner than the eastern side, making it more important to look for the Red Metal Markers. There is also a bunch more up and down on this side.

When I got back to my truck, it was starting to get dark, the gates were partially closed, but there were no notes on my truck.

Perfect Weather...

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Directions
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To hike
NORTH Trailhead: From Payson head north on SR 87. Pass the towns of Pine & Strawberry. About 1 mile past the 87/260 intersection near mile marker 279 turn right and go through gate. (Please close the gate entering & leaving)

SOUTH Trailhead: From Payson head north on SR87. Just before entering the town of Pine you will see a HUGE sign indicating "Pine Trailhead" on the right.
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