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

Highline Trail #31, AZ

no permit
3.4k 399 13
Guide 399 Triplogs  13 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson N
3.6 of 5 by 52
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 54.7 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,620 feet
Elevation Gain -1,288 feet
Accumulated Gain 8,400 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 - 5 days
Kokopelli Seeds 82.69
Backpack Yes & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Enjoy the slideshow!
10  2019-09-14
Horton Promontory Rim Loop
6  2019-08-24
High - Drew - Woods - Vista - Sinkhole Loop
17  2019-08-24
High - Drew - Woods - Vista - Sinkhole Loop
4  2019-08-15
Promontory Butte 7,914
7  2019-08-04
Derrick - Horton Loop
5  2019-08-04
Derrick - Horton Loop
2  2019-07-27 SMrob
12  2019-07-20
Mogollon Rim Vista Loop
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 34
Author fairweather8588
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 299
Trips 79 map ( 712 miles )
Age 31 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Mar, Apr, Sep, Oct → Early
Seasons   Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:11am - 6:22pm
Official Route
109 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Mogollon Rim Death March
by fairweather8588

Likely In-Season!
54.7 miles now due to recent reroutes.

There are many opinions on the length of this trail, ranging from 50 to 54 miles, but for this description it will be 52 miles. Because of its long length, this trail will take the average hiker from 3-5 days, although te-wa and myself completed it in just under 2 (not recommended). There are now two sections of this trail that have received damage from wildfires, one section between the Hatchery TH and Washington Park TH which was damaged by the Dude Fire of 1990, and the February Fire of 2006, which burned a portion of the trail east of the Geronimo TH. However these areas have been decently marked, so finding your way along them will not be that difficult.

You can choose to start from either the Pine Trailhead or the 260 Trailhead, for this hike we started at the 260 TH. From the start of the trail, you will begin to head west toward the See Canyon TH, with constant climbing and descending, with a large descent right before the See Canyon TH (approx. 6 miles from 260 TH) and the crossing of Christopher Creek, which will likely have water. Right after Christopher Creek you will began a large climb for the next few miles. As you wind your way around Promontory Butte you will reach great views of the surrounding forest, and then switchback down right before you reach Horton Springs (approx. 13.5 miles from 260 TH), which is a great place to camp or refill your water.

After Horton Springs you will yet again be on the rise, and around 3.5 miles you will reach Tonto Creek and the Hatchery TH (approx. 17 miles from 260 TH), which has a few campsites nearby with easy access to the creek. From the Hatchery TH you will be starting out with, once again, another uphill. But now, as opposed to the Ponderosa pines that have dominated the first part of the trail, you will now be walking on sandstone surrounded by chaparral and other knee high grasses, and the charred remains of trees burned in 1990. However with all of the downed wood this has lead to great views. About 6.5 miles after leaving the Hatchery you will past Myrtle Trail and Ellison Creek. After crossing FR 144 you will continue through the burn area crossing over several more smaller creeks and then a few more ups and downs until out of no where East Verde River appears along with the Washington Park TH (approx. 33 miles from the 260 TH) along with it's scattered campsites.

After crossing the road at the Washington Park TH you will need to keep a close eye out for the trail markers, being sure not to turn onto the Col. Devin Trail, you will cross another road and walk past the Girl Scout cabin, working your way up the trail passing by another two creeks that had enough to filter from. You will continue to work you way up the hills, although nothing as tiring as the eastern end of the trail, you will soon happen upon the area hit hard by the February Fire. At the time I was there the forest was just now starting to sprout up small grass and shrubs, but for the most part was dominated by large blackened stumps and fallen trees. After you reach the outer edges of the fire you will pass Bear Spring and you will gradually, and then more rapidly descend down toward the Geronimo TH and Webber Creek (approx 43 miles from the 260 TH). From there the trail faintly makes its way up toward Milk Ranch Point, slowly but constantly climbing the next 4 miles, passing by both Pine and Red Rock Springs. At the time of my visit, Pine Spring was nothing more then a muddy spot on the ground, and Red Rock Spring had a constant trickle into its trough. However after filtering a few quarts from the Red Rock Spring the water tasted heavily of rust so we dumped out our water and made the last 4 miles of the trip with out any water. I would suggest not relying on those two springs, we were quite disappointed and after coming 28 miles we were unable to drink until we reached our car. After around another mile you will begin the long descent down Milk Ranch Point, lasting 2 miles until you intersect with the Donahue Trail, afterwards you will reach level terrain which after the previous 50 miles, you will be able to cruise through, walking though a way marked Ponderosa forest. Alas, 52 miles later you will reach the Pine TH and the cabins that surround it.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a difficult hike. It would be insane to attempt this entire hike without prior experience hiking.

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

2006-05-15 fairweather8588
  • guide related image guide related image
    guide related

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 149 deeper Triplog Reviews
Highline Trail #31
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Horton Promontory Rim Loop
Checked off a couple of all-time uniques.

292 is steep. A few spots of deadfall and one section in particular where there are many user/wildlife-created switchbacks that deviate from the tread.

3 small groups at the spring.

Highline was nice. I forgot how thick and lush some of the drainages down here are. It was farther to get across to 278 than I thought it would be.

278 was nicer than I had been told. Steep for sure, but it's over quickly. Some nice views along the way too.

76 has been closed to vehicles for a year or more. The FS has redone all the roads on the butte in preparation for 4FRI. Hopefully they can get through it next spring and get the road open again. Then again, it was pleasant walking out there knowing there was nobody else around.

The rain came before I got back to Crook. It didn't last too long, but I had to get all geared up. Actually turned out to be nice since it knocked down all the dust on the 300 which made much nicer conditions to complete the loop.
Highline Trail #31
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Drew see loop
Wavered on options until late last night. This seemed to be a good compromise plan. I'd never taken Drew all the way to the actual Crook instead of cutting through the campground. That part of Crook is really pleasant and a much better option. Ran into a pair surveying the trail to submit it for historic trail status. Did you know the "V" markers don't stand for Verde? They are the roman number 5. Because General Crook led the 5th division or regiment, or whatever it's called. Hiking is educational!
Highline Trail #31
rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
High - Drew - Woods - Vista - Sinkhole Loop
Started 7:50am at the 260 TH. The hike over to Drew is one of the best stretches on the Highline. We took a mini break at the Drew junction before the only serious elevation on the loop.

FR300 was busy. The hike to the lake is forgettable yet pleasant. Then boom. The half mile on the west side of Woods Canyon Lake is one of the nicer half miles of trail in Arizona. Hiking around the lake on well used trails we passed a group of 30+ scouts. We met and had a quick chat with one of the scout leaders Kevin.

The hike out east of the lake in Woods Canyon low on notable characteristics. Like the Cabin Loop it's easy/pleasant hiking through a forest. Continuing offtrail we find ourselves out of the canyon following chevrons marking the General Crook Trail. This is glance at the gps every three minutes type of pain free offtrail. No bushwhacking.

Iconic views along the Vista trail never disappoint, such a great place to take a break. Then the hike back down to square one on the Military Trail. The tread has a fair shake of ankle busters. Glad it exists and enjoy sections. 1.1 miles to go, Bruce tells the same horrible story about a tree in the ravine every hike.
Highline Trail #31
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
High - Drew - Woods - Vista - Sinkhole Loop
A redo / variation of a loop I've done before.
Starting from the 260 TH going clockwise

Highline Trail #31
Love me some of that super-highway Highline Trail. Temps in the upper 60's, great views, Trees and a breeze.

Drew Trail #291
This is the big climb for the day. Mostly in the trees and steep in a couple spots. 800' of gain in a mile.

Woods Canyon Lake Trail
Once on the Rim, we scoot over to Woods Canyon and follow that to the lake. We followed that CW around the North side of the Lake. Here we ran into a Hazzer Kevin, leading a group of 40 or so Boy Scouts the opposite direction. We stopped an chatted for a bit. Joe's day was made when Kelvin said "I'm not going lie, you made my day, meeting a minor celebrity"

Down the spillway out of Woods Canyon Lake is a pretty area. We hopped out in a side canyon and went cross country.

General Crook Trail #140
This is one of Joe's favorites, so I make it a point to work in into hikes on top of the rim.

Rim Lakes Vista Trail #622
Always great views and few others seen farther that 300' of a parking lot.

Military Sinkhole Trail #179
This one get's you back to the TH. It's an old road for awhile up top, but turns into a trail through the trees.

Good Day, Breezes kept it comfortable.
Highline Trail #31
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Beautiful hike along the rim today with a group of friends. :) I had never hiked this loop before; thought I would get out of the heat down in Phoenix and hike in the Payson area. But it was pretty hot here as well with quite a bit of sun exposure on the last half of the hike. Pretty views from the top, however, made the trip worthwhile. Next time I think I'll wait until cooler weather to attempt this one again. All in all a great day, just too hot. :sweat:
Highline Trail #31
rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
Highline - Myrtle - Devin Loop
Highline Trail #31 - Washington to Myrtle
First 3 miles exceeded my expectations. The balance was toast or just fair.

Myrtle Trail #30
Toast but a great lil ascent.

Colonel Devin Trail #290
Bumped it up from a 3 to 4 rating.

Weather was outstanding. Enjoyed the hike much more than anticipated. Not itching to do it again.
Highline Trail #31
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Highline - Myrtle - Devin Loop
Highline Trail #31
I needed this section of the Highline Trail, between Washington Park and the Myrtle Trail, to Gir-er-Done.
I was not expecting good trail conditions based on my last time out by the Myrtle Trail. I was pleasantly surprised by the excellent conditions all the way to FR144. Numerous sections have been redone/rerouted since the Highline fire of 2017. Great water was flowing along the way at the East Verde, Dude Creek, Bonita Creek and Hells Gate Canyon. Views along the way with aren't bad either. Evidence of the fire was there, but did not take away from the Trail.

Myrtle Trail #30
This trail at the intersection with the Highline Trail, took some fire damage. The old sign at the intersection is no longer around. [ photo ] It is a steady steep climb, giving you good reasons to stop, take a breath and take in the views.

Trail 300
With this trail being reopened, we expected to see plenty of activity. Not a single soUl was seen. The trail was wide, smooth and free of Cat Claw. Some of the best views in the state.

Col Devin Trail #30
Karl and I evidently did not know what the L was going on here. We met a solitary through hiker climbing as we were going down. He said he started 5 weeks ago. I LOVE the re-route.

Great day with near perfect weather.

Highline Trail #31
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to do this hike once again. This time, there were 6 of us with a meetup group that were on the hike.

We did the loop clockwise, so as to avoid going up the Promontory Trail. On this trip, going up the Horton Springs Trail seemed more difficult than last time, and going down the Promontory Trail seemed easier than last time.

Once we got on FR 76, I took a bit of a circuitous route getting to Promontory Butte -- a more direct route would probably have shaved a half mile or so off of the distance.

The views at Promontory Butte were very nice, as always. Actually, it was a very clear day, so the views were even better than normal.

When we started the hike the temperature was in the low 30's, and it was around 70 when we got back.

One interesting thing about this hike was when we were hiking on Rim Road 300/General Crook Trail 140. We were walking east on the Rim Road and an off road vehicle came up behind us. When the vehicle got beside us, the driver told us that as he was coming up to us, a mountain lion went across the road just behind us. Since we were looking ahead, we never saw the mountain lion. I am just glad that the mountain lion was not looking for a
Highline Trail #31
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
I have wanted to do this hike, and I decided to do the loop clockwise so as to go down, instead of up, Promontory Trail #278 -- I think that was the right call.

Starting at the Horton Creek TH, Tracie, my intrepid hiking partner, and I travelled on Horton Creek Trail #285 to get to Horton Spring, and then took the Horton Springs Trail #292 to get up to Rim Road 300/General Crook Trail #140. Then we went east on the General Crook Trail for a little over 2 miles, and then took an easy jaunt through the forest to get to Forest Road 276. We then took that to the Promentory TH, and then went to the SE to get over to Promentory Butte. At the Butte we stopped at the point where we saw a survey marker and the logbook that had been placed there by Joe Bartels back in 2003. From there we went SE to where the Butte juts out a bit, and saw 2 other survey markers. Then we backtracked back to the Promentory TH, and descended down to the Highline Trail on the very steep Promentory Trail #278. Then we turned left on the Highline Trail and after about 3/4 mile we took the Derrick Trail back to the Horton Springs TH.

As advertised, all but 2 miles of the hike are on easy to moderate trails. The exceptions are the Horton Springs Trail #292 and the Promontory Trail #278. I had never been on the Horton Springs Trail, and it was easier than I thought that it would be -- the footing was mostly pretty good and the trail was generally easy to follow. But it was fairly steep, gaining around 1,200 feet over 1.2 miles. I had been up and down the Promontory Trail before, and it does not get any easier. This is a primitive trail that is poorly maintained, is hard to follow, is very steep (you go down 1,150 feet in 0.8 miles), has poor footing on much of the trail, and there is a lot of deadfall to negotiate. Other than that, it is a delightful trail to hike!

Virtually all of the elevation gain on this hike is in the first 5 miles. In looking at a map, I could have shortened the distance by a mile or more by exiting the General Crook Trail sooner, and by not taking Forest Road 76 all the way to the Promontory TH and then backtracking back to Promontory Butte.

We saw a couple of people on the Horton Creek Trail who were camping; other than that, we did not see anyone else all day.

Highline Trail #31
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
This 2 day trip was our attempt to finish the rest of the Highline Trail where it splits off from Passage 26 on the Arizona Trail at Washington Park. Our plan was to head east and finally knock this one out, but a hiking partner fell ill to dehydration and altitude issues so we had to call it quits at Christopher Creek and hitch out to get our car. With only 6.5 miles left to do, we'll revisit it later this summer as an easy day hike.

Day 1 was loooong. We ended up hiking 24 actual miles to Horton Spring instead of the pre-measured 19 miles we were supposed to hike. I don't know if there's a time warp or bend in the space-time continuum, but we stayed on trail and did those 5 extra miles somehow. GPS was working fine on 2 devices and both showed the same 24 mile result. Weird. Water was decent at the usual spots, and Horton Spring was amazing. We finished day 1 in the dark by headlamp, so we didn't see the springs until morning. What a great spot to camp. There were probably a dozen other backpackers camping here, but we found a great spot for 3 tents out of the way and on flat ground. As soon as we turned in for bed, our 3rd party started vomiting and continued doing so well into the evening and next morning. We got them hydrated and feeling better, but the AMS was kicking in and the headache and fatigue really took them down on day 2.

Day 2 was when we realized our partner needed to get off the trail. At a slower pace, we did the 8 miles to Christopher Creek and got them off the mountain and back down to Payson where they immediately recovered. A giant tray of Del Taco turned out to be part of the cure.

By the way, the Highline Trail is a real butt kicker. With the constant ups and downs and with the sun pounding on you in the exposed and rocky sections, you'll get your money's worth on this trail.

Highline, we'll come back and finish you once and for all!

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
260 Trailhead - 27 miles east of Payson on Highway 260, on the west side

Pine Trailhead - 15 miles north of Payson on Highway 87 on FR 297

Trailheads West to East
Pine TH
Red Rock TH
Geronimo TH
Washington Park TH
Hatchery TH
See Canyon TH
260 TH

Connecting Trails
Babe Haught Trail #143
Col. Devin Trail #290
Derrick Trail #33
Donahue Trail #27
Drew Trail #291
Geronimo Trail #240
Horton Creek Trail #285
Myrtle Trail #30
Promontory Trail #278
Pump Station Trail #296
Red Rock Trail #294
See Canyon Trail #184
help comment issue

end of page marker