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

Tonto Natural Bridge, AZ

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839 141 0
Guide 141 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
Rated
3.8
3.8 of 5 by 45
 
16
Statistics
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Network 1.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 4,613 feet
Elevation Gain -500 feet
Avg Time Hiking 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 2.33
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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7  2019-10-16 fricknaley
4  2019-08-31 MountainMatt
15  2018-07-02
Grandpa Day
Tortoise_Hiker
10  2017-07-05 Tortoise_Hiker
8  2017-03-14 Tortoise_Hiker
9  2016-12-10 Angel
8  2016-10-09 The_Eagle
6  2016-05-28 afrankie
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 10
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,883
Routes 16,068
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Co-Author MountainMatt
co-author avatarGuides 3
Routes 192
Photos 2,807
Trips 445 map (2,874 Miles)
Age 27 Male Gender
Location Arizona
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Preferred   Apr, May, Oct → 10 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:37am - 5:43pm
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0 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
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largest natural travertine bridge
by HAZ_Hikebot & MountainMatt

Likely In-Season!
Brief History... Tucked away in a tiny valley surrounded by a forest of pine trees, Tonto Natural Bridge has been in the making for thousands of years. It is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. The bridge stands 183 feet high over a 400-foot long tunnel that measures 150 feet at its widest point.


The discovery of the small and beautiful valley between Pine and Payson was documented in 1877 by David Gowan, a prospector who stumbled across the bridge as he was chased by Apaches. Gowan hid for two nights and three days in one of several caves that dot the inside of the bridge. On the third day, he left the cave to explore the tunnel and green valley surrounding it. Gowan then claimed squatter's rights.

In 1898 he persuaded his nephew, David Gowan Goodfellow, to bring his family over from Scotland and settle the land permanently. After a week of difficult travel from Flagstaff, the Goodfellows arrived at the edge of the mountain and lowered their possessions down the 500 foot slopes into the valley by ropes and burros.

Today, visitors can stand on top of the bridge or hike down below to capture the true size and beauty of this geologic wonder. Geology of the Bridge According to state geologists, the formation of Tonto Natural Bridge went through several stages of development.

The west side of Pine Creek was formed by a flow of lava in the form of rhyolite. The rock eroded, leaving behind purple quartz sandstone. The rock layers were then lithified, tilted and faulted.

The area was then covered by sea water, leaving behind a sediment of sand and mud. Volcanic eruptions covered the rock layers with lava, forming a basalt cap. Through erosion, the basalt cap broke down and was shifted by faults, creating Pine Creek Canyon.

Precipitation began seeping underground through fractures and weak points in the rock, resulting in limestone aquifers. Springs emerged as a result of these aquifers, carrying the dissolved limestone and depositing calcium carbonate to form a travertine dam. The waters of Pine Creek then eroded through the travertine and formed the Natural Bridge. Trails Please carry drinking water while hiking trails. All park trails descend into Pine Canyon and are steep and strenuous.

Ana Mae Trail
A quick and easy 500ft long dirt switchback trail that leads down to the canyon bottom and connects with Pine Creek Trail which at the point becomes an easy undeveloped boulder hop either downstream towards the natural bridge or upstream to the start of the PC TH.

Pine Creek Trail
About 1/2 mile long (400 feet developed - undeveloped in the creek bottom), leads to the Pine Creek natural area. Hiking shoes are recommended. (No pets or glass containers.) Follow the arrows, allow one hour.

Waterfall Trail
About 300 feet long, ends at waterfall cave. (No pets or glass containers.) Uneven steps.
Short steep railroad tie stair path leading down to a dead end metal platform surrounded by rich amounts of lush green vegetation, natural spring water and caves that overlook Pine Creek from above.

Gowan Loop Trail
About 1/2 mile long, leads to an observation deck in the creek bottom. The trail is steep and rough. No trash cans. Hiking shoes are recommended. (No pets or glass containers.) Group-Use Facilities
At almost a 1/2 mile and a decent little drop it’s the only route besides Pine Creek worthy of the name “trail” at TNB.
Typically this is the easiest way underneath the natural bridge but with the observation deck being closed the only attraction down Gowan besides the scenery and the grove of giant old growth Arizona Cypress at the bottom is the best legal swimming pool in park.


Facilities
Goodfellow Group Use Area, Cypress Group Use Ramada, Lodge Dining Room, Lodge.

Amenities: Grass areas, large barbecue, electricity; shaded ramada with 8 picnic tables, large barbecue; dining room in the historic lodge, restrooms and kitchen available. Overnight use of Historic Lodge, 10 bedrooms, kitchen and dining facilities.

Maximum Group Size
12-20 people for lodge overnight use; 25-100 for Day-use Reservation Facilities.

Picnic Areas
Yes

Reservation Policy
Please call the park for details.

Restrictions
For some areas reservations for holiday weekends are not accepted. Minimum of one month in advance reservation. Limited parking space. No pets allowed on trails or in swim areas. Please call park for details.

Hours
call park for current information

Group Use Fees
Fees vary, call the park for details.

After Hour Fees
No after hours use allowed with exception of lodge overnight use.

Contact
Park Manager (928) 476-4202

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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    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.

    Permit $$
    Special Use

    Special
    Updated 2019
    Adult (14+): $7.00
    Youth (7–13): $4.00
    Child (0–6): FREE


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    The park is located off Hwy 87, just 10 miles north of Payson.
    Information: Call (928) 476-4202
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