Sunday, May 26, 2013

Pine Trailhead

Weather:  ~82°, sunny, slight breeze

About this hike:  I got inspired to take this hike almost by accident.  After leaving Natural Bridge State Park, I wasn't quite ready to drive home to Phoenix yet, and I found this trailhead on the map.  There is a clearly-signed, well-maintained Forest Service parking area.  No Tonto Pass is required.

This trailhead joins the Highline Trail, which runs for many miles across the Mogollon Rim, and is also part of the statewide Arizona Trail.  Several paths lead from the parking area.  I took a short walk along the Highline, where grassland eventually gave way to thicker ponderosa pine forest.  This trail runs pretty close to Highway 260, and the traffic noise let you know you weren't too deep into the wilderness.

I also did the Pineview trail, accessed from the Pine Trailhead.  A short hike leads to a wonderful vantage point for viewing the little town of Pine, Arizona.  Signs indicated there were springs further up the trail, but it had been a long day, and I still had a long drive back to Phoenix, so with that one last exhilarating view, I called it quits.

Panorama overlooking Pine from the Pineview Trail

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

Weather:  82°, sunny, slight breeze

About this hike:  Hiked all the trails at Natural Bridge State Park.  The Pine Canyon trail runs along Pine Creek and to the bridge.  Signs advise that it is strenuous, which I laughed at, because state park trails are rarely that challenging.  I was in for a surprise.  Mostly rocky path through dry portions of the creek bed leads to the bridge, which you can go under.  That's where it really gets interesting.  The rocks are very slick, and water rains from the top of the bridge constantly. It's basically like a cave.  There is a beautiful blue-green pool of water under the bridge, and I nearly slid into it by accident (swimming is forbidden by signs).  With skull-like formations and stalagmites coming out of the top, the bridge is really a site to see.

I explored the other trails in the park, most of which were just short walks to vantage points.  Interpretive signs line the trails, including one that compares the Virginia Natural Bridge (I actually used to live right near there when I was in VA) to the Arizona one.  All told I spent three hours at Natural Bridge Park, and have to say, the $5 admission fee was well worth it.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Horton Spring Trail

Weather:  82°, sunny, slight breeze

About this hike:  Horton Spring trail is just off Highway 260, near Kohl's Ranch (~20 miles north of Payson).  Trail head parking can get tight, but just up the road is a U.S. Forest Service -maintained paved parking area with plenty of spaces and latrines.  Best part is, no Tonto Pass needed to park here.    

It's 8-10 miles out and back from the Horton Spring Trailhead to the actual spring.  This hike was well worth it.  Mostly easy overland trails lead through magnificent ponderosa pine forest and alongside Horton Creek.  The trees must've been oozing sap during my visit, because the forest smelled very fragrant.

The trail ends at Horton Spring and you can actually see where the spring gushes from the side of the mountain.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Piestewa Peak

Weather:  ~82°, sunny, slight breeze

Time to Summit:  27 minutes

About this hike:  Barely made it in fact, it was practically 28.  Then again, I  was slowed by other hikers lumbering along plus a few stops to catch my breath.  Uneventful, but fun.