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Horton Creek Loop Day Hike
Mogollon Rim
April 27, 2019
by Tamar Gottfried
  GPS Map 

Eighteen hikers assembled in Payson from various parts of the Valley and caravanned to the Horton Trailhead. Even at 8 AM the official parking lot was full, so we redirected to the Derrick parking area.

Let’s get organized. [photo by Tom]
A brief round of introductions. [photo by Tom]

The weather was fresh and cool and a nice change from the April heat of Phoenix. We started our hike on the Derrick trail—a quick up up up through reddish rocks and interesting trees.

I’ll take you up, up, up to the top. [photo by John]
This is the life! [photo by John]
Trail signs are helpful. [photo by Lin]

About 3 miles in we reached the Highline junction. At this point we were informed that a 50 mile Zane Grey trail running race was happening along the Highline. The runners were going to the Fish Hatchery and back. We began to encounter runners at various speeds, but spaced out enough and friendly enough that it did not negatively impact the hike. It just meant a lot more people on the this normally remote part of the hike.

We must be nearing Horton Spring. [photo by Lin]
Horton Spring, at last! [photo by Lin]
Water gushing over the rocks. [photo by Lin]
Look up, while you’re at it. [photo by Lin]
The rocks might be slippery. [photo by Lin]
Horton Creek starts here. [photo by Lin]
This looks like a good place for a break. [photo by Tom]
Lin by the waterfall. [photo by Tom]
John crosses on the bridge. [photo by Tom]

We went up and down along the trail as it became more green and piney. It was noticeably less green than in the winter, though, even at this cusp of hot weather time. Finally, after 6 miles, and a lot of runners making their way back from the Hatchery, we reached the spring. We crossed the log bridge and collapsed on the other side, happy to have a break to eat and enjoy the abundance of running water.

After a sufficient rest, we started back down the Horton Trail, which was surprisingly empty. We took opportunities to enjoy the waterfalls and bubbling creek noises and made it back to the cars around 2 PM.

Pleasant little waterfall. [photo by Lin]
Good thing there’s a bridge. [photo by Lin]
Quiet reflections along Horton Creek. [photo by John]

Twelve of us went to lunch at the Buffalo place in Payson and enjoyed great fries, homemade ginger ale and elk burgers. We all agreed that it was a great day to hike in the pines.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated May 9, 2019