Located in Arizona, the hiking in Payson offers over ten good trail hike destinations. The best Payson hiking based on popularity are considered to be Highline National Recreation Trail, General George Crook Trail, Woods Canyon Lake To Chevelon Lake, Arizona Trail - Blue Ridge Section, and AD Bar Trail. For a detailed trail description and printable trailhead map, just select a Payson hiking trail below.
The General George Crook Trail follows a 138 mile route parallel to FS300 generally above the Mogollon Rim. The hiking trail is marked with intervisible chevrons (Vs) on the trees adjacent to the trail. The trail merges with Forest Road 300 on top of the Rim. A few mileposts with mileage indicated from Camp Verde have been placed along the trail by local clubs and groups. Many portions of the trail are not maintained as a footpath. Instead the chevrons blaze the route to follow.
Southeast of Camp Verde and north of Payson in the Tonto National Forest, the Highline National Recreation Trail is a 51 mile route located just south of the Mogollon Rim. The Highline Trail (#31) traverses steep, rocky rugged country that was once roamed by Geronimo and the site of many a skirmish between the Apaches and the U.S. Army.
North of Clifton in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, the 12 mile AD Bar Trail passes through a variety of terrain and vegetation including ponderosa pine, pinyon and juniper. The hiking trail starts at 4,700 feet and climbs to over 7,000 feet before reaching HU Bar Ranch and Blue River.
Southwest of Alpine and Hannagan Meadow, the Ackre Lake Trail is a 3.5 mile one-way hiking route above 9,000 feet out to Ackre Lake. While the route was designed with skiers and bikers in mind, it is mainly used by hikers. This winding path meanders through aspen stands, broad cienegas as well as thick conifer forests. Opportunities to spy elk and deer are endless, as well as a quick glimpse of a bear or woodland hawk.
Southwest of Alpine in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, the Hannagan Meadow Loop is a great route (6 miles / 400 feet) for encountering wildlife along meadows above 9,000 feet, through tall-treed forests and groves of aspen. There is plenty of camping in the area and opportunities for more hiking are close on the Ackre Lake Trail.
East of Springerville in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, the Railroad Grade Trail is a 21 mile route at 9,100 feet. The entire trail follows an historic railroad route offering gentle trail grades and beautiful scenery. Formerly, the railroad hauled logs from various parts of the Apache National Forest and the White Mountain Apache Reservation and later hauled tourists from McNary on a tour of the White Mountains. The railroad has been unused for 3 decades and is now an excellent hiking route.