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Barnhardt Trail #43, AZ

no permit
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Guide 389 Triplogs  13 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
4 of 5 by 89
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 5.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,198 feet
Elevation Gain 1,916 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,055 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 12.75
Interest Seasonal Waterfall
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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6  2019-04-20 bretinthewild
4  2019-04-20 survivordude
14  2019-03-31 david_allen_3
2  2019-03-30
Mazz Transit
12  2019-03-30
Mazatzal Divide Overnight
20  2019-03-30
Mazzy Transit
9  2019-03-17 LindaAnn
19  2019-03-16
Visiting the Twins - Sandy and Deadman
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Author Fritzski
author avatar Guides 43
Routes 0
Photos 597
Trips 59 map ( 132 miles )
Age 66 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Apr, Oct, Nov → 9 AM
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:09am - 6:31pm
Official Route
62 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Thick juicy steak for hungry thighs!
by Fritzski

1998-03-17 Joe Bartels named the large waterfalls in the tributaries along Barnhardt Canyon that split off of 7403 as Big Kahuna and Hawaiian Mist on St Patty's day 1998.

Barnhardt Trail is considered to be one of the "expressways" to the Mazatzals. It starts at Barnhardt trailhead and proceeds westward to the ridge of the Mazatzal range or "Divide" where you intersect the N-S Mazatzal Divide Trail which is part of the Arizona Trail. It's considered an expressway in that it connects up with numerous other trails in the system that could keep a backpacker busy forever. One note of warning, however, the trails are many and can be confusing. The Mazatzal Peak topo quad shows trails that no longer exist and doesn't show many that do. Many of the ones that are shown are misnamed. Here's your best bet if you want to get a descent handle on this area: The Forest Service office in Mesa has a nice plasticized Mazatzal Wilderness map for $7 that shows all the numbers with the names on the back. Check out Joe's map below. Put the two together, shake well, add a pinch of luck and you're on your way (remember: author not to be held responsible for resulting chaos:).

Alrighty then, this hike goes from the trailhead up to Chilson Springs and back. The first thing you'll probably notice about this hike is its a "climber". The good news is this: the beauty simply overwhelms any pain and there really isn't much pain because the grade is so "friendly" (moderate and consistent). "If you're in descent shape and your legs are thirsting for a little action, it just feels awful (good! that is)." Likewise, coming back down is surprisingly easy on the knees.

Starting out you'll be ever so briefly in desert scrub before entering Pinon Pines and Juniper. At about a half mile in you'll come to a sign denoting the Wilderness Area boundary. Shortly after that you may notice a side trail dropping down to the right. I'm guessing this MAY be one of your few access points to the canyon floor.

As you continue to gain elevation you'll gradually come into Ponderosas and small Oaks. The climb contours high along the Barnhardt Canyon wall in some very creative ways making for great views from small promontories and ledges. You get a hawk's eye view of the panorama and the canyon far below which has many unusual features and inviting, but inaccessible pools. I found myself looking ahead thinking "no way the trail could go up there" and indeed it did through what I consider to be some very ingenious routing.

At about 1.5 miles you will turn south and begin a series of switchbacks into a secondary canyon. At this point you'll find a very aesthetic rock formation making a great rest spot. As you begin the switchbacks you may notice your last chance to access the creek bed from a small break in the trees. A side trip up this canyon bottom would bring you to a point where the water must descend a very large wall but is well hidden from sight on the trail, although the sound is very noticeable.

At about 2.5 miles is one of the highlights of the hike in the form of a seasonal cascading waterfall with a sheer drop of about
twenty feet at the bottom. Its in a grotto tucked back from the trail about twenty yards and enclosed by sheer rock walls on three sides. Tried my best to figure a way to the upper levels, but didn't have the guts to try the climb unprotected.

From here the climb continues unabated for another mile until you reach the Sandy Saddle trail at 6000'. From the falls to the 4mi point is mostly bush with Manzanita predominant. At about 4mi you'll come to a rather nice Ponderosa forest, but it bothered me that so many were dying. Don't know if this is from disease or past drought, but didn't notice it elsewhere on the hillsides while driving back.

At 5mi you top out at about 6200' and at 5.5mi is the intersection with the Mazatzal Divide trail entering from the south (this is not shown on any but the latest revised maps).

From here you begin a descent on what is now technically Mazatzal Divide trail into Chilson Spring which is a nondescript little well on the north side of the trail. From this spring they piped the water all the way down to Chilson Camp which you can reach by cheating and following the pipe or continuing till you hit the Brody Seep trail, take a left and go a quarter mile. The Camp is a very scenic open area that was
obviously once used as a cattle corral. It is an ideal spot for an overnight or just some lunch.

The return goes a little faster and offers many views you may have missed on the way up. A very enjoyable hike and I personally look forward to the opportunity to explore this area further. I just may have to break down one of these days and buy a backpack! Take care, and may the winds be always at your back (and strong enough to blow away those darn gnats!)

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2001-05-03 Fritzski

    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 111 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Barnhardt Trail #43
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    Took a couple buddies up to the falls this Saturday. Fourth car at the trailhead at 7:30am. Perfect temps that early. Enjoyed time alone in the grotto before more groups arrived. Water still flowing but definitely lower than last month. On the way down we had to wait for a rattlesnake to clear out -- it was a couple feet up the trail and with the steep nature of Barnhardt there was no way around. Rattled at us two separate times as we tried to pass so we gave it more time to slither away. It was big but did not get a photo as it was in the tall grass/weeds. Other hikers had seen another one further up trail. Snakes are back -- watch your step!
    Barnhardt Trail #43
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    Mazatzal Divide Overnight
    Took Barnhardt up to the Divide and over to HCS this weekend. Lovely temps and even a little warm during the day. Saw a large group (~10) heading down to see the falls from below, not sure if they were HAZ folks or not. We explored around camp into the chain of smaller falls and pools that lead down to the big falls. At dusk we were joined by an AZT thru-hiker from Australia; he had just hit mile 424. We of course gave him a beverage and spent the night swapping stories around the fire. Great trip and can't wait to see more of this incredible area.
    Barnhardt Trail #43
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    Decided that my goal for the new year is a 52 hike challenge. This was my first for the year and it was absolutely amazing. It had snowed for New Year's Eve and I decided on Saturday to go check to see if there was still snow remaining. Well, there definitely was. Decided to do a short hike to the waterfall and check it out. Someone recently tied a rope up there which is annoying af but I won't be trying to climb that to remove it. Awesome first hike!

    Need trail info? PM me.
    Barnhardt Trail #43
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    My intrepid hiking partner, Tracie, and I decided to make our first trip up to the Mazatzal Peak summit. We started at the Barnhardt TH and took the Y-Bar trail for 4.3 miles. The Y-Bar trail is easy to follow, but it is mostly covered with baseball sized rocks, so this trail is not the easiest on your feet. At that point we got off the trail and followed the route posted by mrbeermug on March 17, 2018. This route to the summit is a total bushwhack, as there is no semblance of a trail whatsoever, and the route is not intuitive at all. I wound up looking at my GPS almost constantly to see if I was on the recommended route -- we got up there, but it took about 3 hours to the 1.6 miles from the Y-Bar trail to the summit. If I do this hike again, I will take a different path up to the summit.

    The views on top are awesome, and are some of the best that I have seen on any peak. We found the survey marker and the hiking register at the top. There were also lots of ladybugs up there.

    The descent took a while also, and we followed the route back down to the Barnhardt Trail that was posted by lindaagm on October 27, 2017. We basically followed a couple of washes down the 2.6 miles from the summit to the Barnhardt Trail. It wasn't too bad of a descent, although there lots of deadfall and small trees that you had to negotiate your way around.

    Once we made it the Barnhardt Trail, it was about 4.75 miles back to the TH.
    Barnhardt Trail #43
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    Nice dayhike with the gf and Lily. We hiked to the camp spot under the big juniper just north of the azt junction for lunch and then turned around. The parking lot was packed but it was mostly two big groups and then a group canyoneering so it wasn't as busy as I had feared. It sprinkled a little on the way down but the day was mostly cloudy, breezy, and cool.
    Barnhardt Trail #43
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    Started at 6:10am, so I headlamped it for 20mins or so. 42° at start. Ditched the jacket after a mile. Cruised on up Barnhardt and checked on the falls. Barely a trickle. The clouds stole the show along the divide. It added to the already excellent views. Passed a couple of backpackers also going down Y Bar, that was it for human contact. Overcast had seized the day, and spared me from the the usual sun exposure on this trail. The TH was full upon my return. I noticed dark skies had taken over and the tops of the peaks, including Mt Ord, were hidden under clouds, as I departed. Enjoyed this loop, as always. Great morning in the Mazzies.
    Barnhardt Trail #43
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    Decided to head a little north for cooler temps this weekend. Great loop hike. The last time we were on the Y-Bar Trail was 5 years ago doing this same loop. Some small patches of snow still remain but its melting quickly. Saw no others on the trails until we were within 2 miles of the trail head.
    Barnhardt Trail #43
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    Nice day on the trails with Kyle and Lily. It was a relaxed hike and there was just enough snow to make things interesting but wasn't a nuisance. We hiked to Chilson Camp and took our lunch there. From there our return blurred by and we were done by mid afternoon. Thanks Kyle for driving!
    Barnhardt Trail #43
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    Headed out to Chilson Camp with 9L and Lily. It was a beautiful day and there was still a good bit of snow left. It was just enough to add a little fun but not so much our feet were ever wet. Lily loves snow. We stopped by Chilson Spring on the way. There was about 6-8 inches in the spring box. We had lunch at Chilson Camp and carried out some empty water jugs.
    Barnhardt Trail #43
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    I have always liked Barnhardt after a little snow, so I headed there this morning when I heard some snow might have fallen in the area. The dirt road heading to the trailhead was a little slick and dicey in spots, but I managed fine and just collected a lot of mud on the way in. There was a hunter at the trailhead getting ready to go out when I arrived, but other than that only saw two other people the entire day and broke trail through the fresh snow on Barnhardt the entire day. We turned around at the divide.

    There was snow all the way down to the trailhead and it got progressively deeper as we climbed. None of the fan favorites were flowing and other than the couple inches of snow, it is clear that it has been a dry winter out there. The snow may have hit five inches deep as we approached the divide, but it generally seemed to be in the 2-4 inches depth ranges. After a small break at where Barnhardt meets the AZ Trail, we turned around and returned the way we came. We were quicker on the return because of the downhill, but finished pretty beat due to a long day hiking in the snow.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    From the corner of SR87 & SR260 in Payson go south on SR87 for 14.5 miles to the signed turnoff for Barnhardt trailhead (forest road 419). Follow FR419 5 miles to its end. The parking area is fairly large. Barnhardt trailhead is located at the west end of the parking area.

    From Phoenix take SR87 north out of Mesa to Payson. The turnoff to the trailhead is 4mi north of the 188 intersection. (think rest stop)
    1 TB Flash Drive... $40
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