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Derrick - Horton Loop
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mini location map2021-05-08
21 by photographer avatarJohn10s
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Derrick - Horton LoopPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar May 08 2021
Hiking12.69 Miles 3,364 AEG
Hiking12.69 Miles   7 Hrs   40 Mns   2.07 mph
3,364 ft AEG   1 Hour   32 Mns Break
1st trip
Route Scout Route Recorded  on Route Scout Popup | MapDEX
It didn't end up being unreasonably hot in the Valley on Saturday, but we headed north for the second straight weekend. We parked at Derrick Trailhead and started Derrick-Horton loop clockwise, following Horton Creek Trail toward the springs. I'd never hiked Horton before and was pleased to find it less crowded than expected--the Horton parking lot and the campgrounds near the trailhead were busy, but we didn't see too many people on the trail early on. The hike was easy and very pleasant with the sound of the creek flowing nearby, cool weather, the smell of pine, and some beautiful waterfalls along the way. After a lot of desert hikes and the extreme drought, it was nice to be around some water for a change.

We started to see more hikers around Horton Spring and had to make our way around people posing for pictures all over the falls...gotta love hiking the "popular" trails. It wasn't part of the original plan, but we added a little mileage by starting up Horton Springs Trail and enjoyed the panoramic views closer to the rim before starting back down. There were even more people at the springs as we passed again, but Highline Trail was almost completely empty and provided more views of the distant surroundings.

We decided to tack on the 0.75-mile spur to Promontory Butte, knowing it wouldn't be particularly fast hiking given the 1,000+ feet of elevation gain up to the rim in under a mile. The trail apparently doesn't get much traffic and even less maintenance work. There were a lot of downed logs along the way, and the GPS came in handy in areas where cairns didn't mark the route since the trail was often very faint--it felt like an off-trail hike along some stretches. There was a lot of loose dirt and rock, especially closer to the top, but it was a nice workout, and the butte offered great panoramic views. However, if you don't like steep trails, I'm not sure the last few tenths of a mile justify the extra effort for the slightly better view at the top :).

We made our way back to Highline and connected with Derrick Trail. After passing a biker and a few hikers, we didn't see any other people on the trail the rest of the afternoon. The east side of the loop on Highline/Derrick didn't quite measure up to the Horton side scenery-wise since it didn't have the creek running alongside, but it was still a beautiful area. There was more red rock that I'd expected, and some spots near the Highline/Derrick intersection looked a little like Sedona. We had more views of the rim as we finished off the loop and found ourselves back among the crowds at the parking lot.

It was a very scenic loop with some good variation along different sections of the route. I was expecting an easy stroll-in-the-woods hike, but with the detours up Horton Springs Trail and up to Promontory Butte, we ended with quite a bit of accumulated elevation gain. Getting back and doing more reading on HAZ, we could have added a little more mileage and hiked the Super Loop and seen some new things instead of the out-and-back spurs we added to the smaller loop, though we probably ended up with more elevation gain this way. Something to try next time...

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Big Canyon Medium flow Medium flow
water report recorded in the field on our app Route Scout

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max East Fork Horton Creek Medium flow Medium flow
water report recorded in the field on our app Route Scout

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