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Highline Trail East Side
Tonto National Forest
May 30, 2020
by Kevin Chittenden
  GPS Map 

The hike leader was a newbie and in that effort was trying to make a easy hike based on restrictions due to the “virus that shall not be named”. The Two-Sixty trailhead was the meeting point at the early hour of 8:00 AM for an out and back hike at the Highline Trail to the junction of the Drew trail and up the Rim to Forest Road 9350.

Amazingly the parking lot was empty when the trailblazers arrived. The forecast called for a mostly sunny day with highs in the mid 80s. When arriving at the trailhead our luck was good as one could still see the remnants of the rain clouds from the night before so the hike started in nice cloudy weather.

Glorious cloudy skies.

Eleven hikers started their hike from the trailhead due to the hike leader not counting himself when signing people up to the hike. The first part of the trail is a fairly easy hike of a little over 4 miles with about 400 feet of elevation gain. Two of our hikers turned back after a couple of miles, as they had been hiking up on the rim for several days and would meet us at the top of the rim for lunch. The rest of us made our way towards the junction. After a little over 2 miles we found a spot to take a group picture with the remaining hikers.

Lin, Debbie, Chris, Michael, Li, Victoria, Kevin, Tom, Quy. [photo by Quy]
Tree Hugging was happening. [photo by Quy]
View from Highline Trail looking west. [photo by Quy]

There were still some flowers in bloom and lizards and other animal life was present.

pink white
Flowers cheer us.
Golden Columbine [photo by Li]
Blue Fungus Beetle [photo by Li]

At the junction of the Highline trail and Drew Canyon Trail we took a few minutes rest to get ready for the tough part of the hike. The Drew Canyon Trail to the FR9350 is about 800 feet of elevation gain in about 1.1 miles. The 9 of us made our way up the trail, and the views continue to get better the higher up we went. Some of us made it up a little faster than others, but all who started the climb made it to the top.

View from about 2/3 of the way up the Drew trail.
View from the top of the Rim.

At the top we found some shade and snacked and rested while meeting the two hikers from earlier. Some of the faster climbers did a little exploring to check out different views along FR9350 and some continued on the Drew trail while the rest of us decided lying down and taking in the views at the top was the way to go.

Resting at the top of the Rim.  Found some shade.
From left to right: Debbie, Chris, Victoria, Kevin, Jade, Lin, Li, Carl, Tom

After a good long rest, 8 of us had to get back to our cars at the trailhead, so the hike down was started. By the time we started the hike down the heat was picking up. Clouds still hid the sun until about 2 miles from the trailhead, and then we felt the heat. The hike ended up being 11 miles with 1400 feet of elevation gain. The total elapsed time was 6 hours 30 minutes. Some of the hikers ended up with a couple extra miles of hiking due to exploring the top of the rim.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated June 11, 2020