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Oak Springs from Hardscrabble Rd, AZ

no permit
137 20 3
Guide 20 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Payson W
3.6 of 5 by 7
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,500 feet
Elevation Gain -552 feet
Accumulated Gain 534 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.17
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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15  2017-09-23
19  2015-05-03 winotron
8  2013-10-13
Whiterock Mesa - AZT #25
23  2012-10-28 Sarae
5  2012-10-28 writelots
7  2010-07-25 DarthStiller
23  2010-07-25
Oak Walnut Strawberry Salad AZ
14  2010-07-25
Oak Walnut Strawberry Salad
Page 1,  2
Author te_wa
author avatar Guides 3
Routes 0
Photos 977
Trips 294 map ( 3,048 miles )
Age 48 Male Gender
Location 221b Baker St.
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Mar → 8 AM
Seasons   Early Spring to Early Summer
Sun  6:10am - 6:30pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Beautiful wooded setting
by te_wa

This small and short hike will take you to a beautiful wooded setting at Oak Spring. It starts on the Hardscrabble Road near the town of Pine and takes you into a shaded creek side area and continues on at a mildly downhill rate for 1.75 easy miles. The area around Oak Spring is neighbored by a large meadow with tall grasses, the usual junipers, manzanita and of course, oaks. The spring was flowing in May, I imagine it would be enough to fill a bottle even in dryer months.

At the Oak spring area there are 2 trails connecting. One is the Oak Trail #16 to Pine trailhead 3.5 miles long heading due East. The other is the Walnut Trail #251, part of the AZT which heads Southwest towards Tonto natural bridge.

Continue down the trail into Oak spring canyon to reach Pine creek near a small community, and access Tonto natural bridge by boulder hopping downstream if you wish. The creek was dry, and wide enough to make the going a little slow, but nonetheless enjoyable. There are some small bluegill filled pools.

If you are feeling froggy, near the point where the trail meets Pine creek you can explore upstream about 1/2 mile to the "narrows". This point seemed impassable without some serious scrambling and perhaps rope assisted climbs.

It is possible however to pick up the "narrows" from the Pine trailhead side, ditching the trail and heading directly into the canyon would make a cool 2-3 day clockwise loop hike. However, not much info is available besides the Buckhead Mesa quad- so I cant allow for mileage info at this time. I would classify this as a "quick getaway" or a great date hike.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2005-05-23 te_wa
    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 Triplog Reviews
    Oak Springs from Hardscrabble Rd
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    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.

    Walnut Canyon's maples are just starting to turn.
    Oak Springs from Hardscrabble Rd
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    My girlfriend and I were staying at a cabin in Pine for the weekend, and this hike was only about 5 minutes away, so we figured we'd check it out. Didn't expect a whole lot from this hike, but it turned out to be pretty nice. We were thinking we missed the trailhead, but it turns out we actually hadn't gone far enough down the road. The TH is very visible from the road and there's enough parking for several cars. It was a little warm when we got there but there was some cloud cover and a breeze.

    Most of the trail meandered gently through the forest. The area is very lush with a lot of greenery. At some points we got some good views of the canyon. There were some nice patches of wildflowers here and there. The area seemed very vibrant and alive. I've never seen so many butterflies in one place!

    I didn't do a whole lot of research on this one, so a couple miles in when we got to the sign pointing left to the Oak Spring Trail, we figured that was the way to the spring. You'd think the "Oak Spring Trail" would get you to Oak Spring, right? Nope. Lol. The trail immediately started switchbacking up out of the other side of the canyon and we knew we went the wrong way. We backtracked to the sign and just continued ahead on the Walnut Trail for a few minutes and saw the sign for the spring itself. There were a couple nice little meadows before getting to the spring.

    The spring area was a very nice shaded setting, though it was loaded with yellowjackets. Looked to be a good amount of water coming from the spring, but it was hard to see it as it was almost completely covered in greenery. We enjoyed the shade, dodged the yellowjackets, and hung out for a while before heading back. The hike back was a nice stroll. Saw a good sized snake on the way back.
    Oak Springs from Hardscrabble Rd
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Totally awesome way to wrap up a weekend spent learning more about the duties of an Arizona Trail Steward. Chelsea from the FS recommended this walk to us as a great way to get to some fall color, and she was right! She claims that this area has the greatest concentration of maples in her forest unit, and I can totally see why. What an awesome hike - if only we hadn't had that drive to Tucson looming over us, we might have gone the whole way to the spring
    Oak Springs from Hardscrabble Rd
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Wendy and I had spent the weekend in Pine learning about being AZT stewards and trail maintenance in general, and we wanted to stretch our legs a bit and see some fall color before heading back down to Tucson. It was recommended that we check out this trail since we didn't have much time, and it was perfect. We saw maples as soon as we dropped into the canyon. The weather was perfect and we had the trail all to our selves. We didn't make it all the way to the spring, but the trail is a very quick, easy hike. We just spent too much time gawking at the leaves :)
    A fun way to end a fun weekend.
    Oak Springs from Hardscrabble Rd
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Oak Walnut Strawberry Salad
    I really enjoyed this hike more than I expected. Jim got us up to the Strawberry TH (unmarked, at the 270 mile marker), where we met The Stillernator, aka Stiller, aka Chris, Tough Boots, aka Kyle, and set up the shuttle back to the Pine TH.

    The first bit until you get to the Bradshaw Meadow Watershed Project was a bit bla, but then there was some great terrain and views. Not that tough of a hike but enough to get a workout. Views from Trail #15 (the Strawberry-Pine Trail from what I've been able to find) were pretty darn nice. Blue skies and Big white puffy Fraley's were a welcome site. We took a bit of lunch at the Strawberry TH and then started the journey across Rt 87 to what is now known as Rock Wall Trail 608T. This is an old jeep trail that starts at Rt 87 and cuts off some distance going north to meet Rt 87 once again. Someone put a bunch of work into this route building 20' tall rock retaining walls on the inside corners of the switchbacks in at least 5 different places. I was impressed. But then again I'm easily impressed. This trail had one rocky section that was a bit hard on the feet after a day of hiking, but it didn't last long.

    A great day of hiking with new partners Chris (Stiller) and Kyle (Tough Boots minus the Beard).
    Equally great to see and jab with Jim again and thanks for driving! (Beware of the gas station breakfasts)
    Joe-Joe as always great hiking w/ you.
    Oak Springs from Hardscrabble Rd
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Oak Walnut Strawberry Salad AZ
    Okay, I'll go with the generic salad on this one. We did a shuttle starting at the Pine TH and took the Oak Creek Trail to Hardscrabble Road. We then hit trail #15 up to the Strawberry TH and then cut down the 87 to what Jim has figured out to be FR608T (an old jeep road). I had a great time meeting some of the HAZ crew.

    Trail #15 turned out to be a nice little gem of a trail with great views over pine and the few people we saw on it were worth having conversation (or at least making jokes) about. I think most of us expected a flat, barren stretch of trail due to the seemingly lack of use, but we were pleasantly surprised.

    FR608T was the real pumpkin of the day for me but worth getting up. The first stretch is rocky and steep as all get out and my lungs tried to tell me "no." Letting the crew go on with out me, I took a nice rest on a rock for 20 minutes and continued up. Pretty soon the road turns less rocky and into a more comfortable climb taking you into pine areas with a few really amazing views. This road is getting a new name by the crew and I personally vote for Jim's first idea but I don't think that one will win out.
    Oak Springs from Hardscrabble Rd
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Camped at Pine trailhead on Friday night then hiked down through "the narrows" on Saturday. This is an interesting canyon. Its very brushy and in some place somewhat boring. However, there are some nice pools and two sections of very nice narrows along the way. There is one section where the canyon slots up and drops through a number of falls connected by pools that is VERY nice. There is one fall that looks like a mandatory rappel, however you can scramble up to a little outcrop to the right and then down the talus in order to bypass this obstacle.

    I somehow overshot the point where the unnamed "narrows" canyon connected to Oak Spring Canyon, so I ended up going really far down Oak Spring Canyon and into Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. I then hitchhiked back to my truck.

    Nice canyon. Worth doing if you are into canyoneering, but if you have more of a general interest this hike will probably frustrating and somewhat boring.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Fountain Hills drive north on the Hwy 87 (Beeline Hwy) past Payson to the town of Pine. You will see the sign for Hardscrabble Road- turn left onto this road and drive 1.8 miles (the last 0.8mi is well graded dirt) to a small turnout on the left and a trail marker as well. There is room for 2 cars only.
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