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Highline Trail #31
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mini location map2014-03-13
10 by photographer avatarSunHOKIE
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Highline Trail #31Payson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Backpack avatar Mar 13 2014
Backpack51.00 Miles 8,800 AEG
Backpack51.00 Miles4 Days         
8,800 ft AEG27 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This is a magnificent trail! It is both challenging and rewarding terrain. I would definitely do this hike again - maybe even run it. A group of friends and I hiked from the Two-Sixty Trailhead (TH) to Pine TH in 4 days, this is my trip report.

Day 1 (Two-sixty TH to Fish Hatchery TH): The first couple of miles was a great warm-up because they were flat, easy terrain, and well marked. We came across an unattended fire at See's Canyon TH, which was alarming, but we put it out. Thankfully See's Creek was flowing well and it had a board to cross it. The next section to Horton Spring had about 20 downed trees to climb over, but not too bad. We saw two white tailed deer at the powerlines, which was the most significant wildlife citing on the whole trip besides birds and a couple squirrel. After the powerlines we had a couple miles of very well groomed trail thanks to the volunteer organization that maintains the trail. Thank you! Camped just after the creek crossing at Tonto Creek. There was a partially fallen tree over the trail which made for an easy bear hang.

Day 2 (Fish Hatchery TH to Washington Park TH): Clouds had blown in overnight causing a light drizzle in camp. As we traversed the most burnt section of the trail we were glad to have cloud cover to keep us cool and added to the scenery along The Rim. The first couple miles across a dirt road along some fences were well marked with the white diamonds and cairns, but the trail seemed to run cold just after Ellison Creek. Make sure you cross the creek and keep going straight across towards the next wash you will see some markers but not a very clear trail. We accidentally went up Ellison Creek a half mile before realizing we were going the wrong way. (Note the first Ellison Creek crossing had flowing water.) After we passe Myrtle Trail intersection we used the yellow and red "Mog100" trail markers. The red tape means "don't go this way" and the yellow means "come this way." Between Moore's creek and Hells Gate Canyon there was a dyslexic gate that is marked "13" instead of "31" (see pictures), this caused a short but unnecessary detour for us. The rest of the day had bouts of hail or rain as we rode the roller coaster trail up over ridges and into washes. A gently thunderstorm was just west of us but did not threaten lightening. Heavier rains led to a wet and muddy approach to Washington Park but there were campers willing to share their fire. Tonto Creek was flowing well and made for a great campsite.

Day 3 (Washington Park TH to Geronimo TH): Woke up to clear skies and frost just up the hill. We hiked through the last section burnt by the Dude Fire and into some pine trees and sections of red rock desert. We got some views of hoodoos along the rim while we were walking on what looked like a jeep trail for a little bit before heading downhill to Geronimo TH. We followed the "Mog100" markers for most of the day. After crossing Webber Creek we found 2 camp spots: one is next the creek near the sign posts and the other is up the hill away from the creek and the sign posts. We enjoyed a small campfire on our last night, but it was very windy.

Day 4 (Geronimo TH to Pine TH): Had a long gradual climb for most of the day. The "Mog100" left the Highline Trail at Geronimo trail, which was sort of disappointing since they were very reliable and frequent trail markers. We continued the climb up to Pine Spring through a few pine tree sections, but most of it was exposed and had great views of Payson and the Rim. Pine Spring was trickling into the mud, there wasn't a good place to collect it or purify it. We had planned to meet friends at Red Rock Spring trail junction but there was no tree cover so we hiked downhill toward Pine TH to meet them. As you descend there is more tree cover, which cooled us off for the afternoon. We meet our friends, who brought us pie to eat on the trail! About a mile or two from the TH the pine trees thin and the trail levels out. Ended the hike with a Miller "Highline" beer. Such a great hike!

Note: a dislexic trail sign, sparsely used trail so you will need trail finding and navigation skills, some tree fall on the trail, some exposed rebar left from a log steps where the logs have rotted away, and burnt areas from forest fires are exposed.

Good news is that the trail races will make the trail clearer (Zane Gray race in April) and we saw lots of evidence that volunteers are already out working on the trail. Thank you volunteers!
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Horton Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Mail Creek Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Pieper Hatchery Spring Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Pine Spring Dripping Dripping

dry Red Rock Spring Dry Dry
Water in tank, but still and full of algae. Not sure where it was flowing from.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Washington Spring Gallon per minute Gallon per minute

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max West Webber Creek Medium flow Medium flow
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