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Horton Spring
Mogollon Rim
May 7, 2022
by Li Li
  GPS Map 
by Tom Simonick

It had been two years since the last time I hiked Horton Creek. The last time I was here it was fall and the forest was filled with beautiful red and orange colored leaves. I decided to see Horton Creek when it was green in the late spring season.

Everyone is ready to hike [photo by Carol]
I posted the hike four days before the hike, and thought it would not be too many people signed up since it was short notice. To my pleasant surprise, I had 13 people signed up in the first two days. I was happy that I had a wonderful group.

The weather was nice, with low 50s in the morning and highs of mid 70s in the afternoon. Perfect weather to hike. Everyone came on time, except two new hikers, so I had everyone start while Tom and I waited for another 15 minutes before the two of us went on to catch the rest of the group.

Beautiful and scenic Horton Creek. [photo by Debbie]

The forest was so green since it was spring and the bushes were in their growing season, though there was not as many flowers as I expected. Our group contained all strong hikers so they went fast, it took Tom and me about two miles of fast-paced hiking before catching up with the rest of the group. I was surprised what the 15 minutes difference made.

pink green
yellow white
Wildflowers. [photos by Carol]
Flowers and butterflies. [photo by Carol]
Golden Banner. [photo by Li]
Tom. [photo by Li]
Li. [photo by Tom]

Derrick Trail started with a gradual climb, but it was all uphill. After two miles ascending, we reached to the intersection with the Highland Trail, the group took a short break for hydration and snacks break while waiting for the rest of group to catch up.

The first intersection with highline trail. [photo by Debbie]
It is all uphill climb! [photo by Li]

Carol spotted some very strange and interesting plants and snapped a picture. This was the perennial parasitic plant called the bear corn. It grew on oak or beech trees, stealing nutrients from their roots. It is shaped like pine cones, the fruit of this plant is used as a food source for white tailed deer. The deer then would spread seed to the forest again.

Bear Cone. [photo by Carol]
Perennial parasitic plant. [photo by Li]

After the back group caught up, the fast group consisting of Joyce, Terry, Chris, Lisa, Anna, and Debbie started again. Soon they disappeared into the forest. Tom, Carol and I stayed in the middle, Tamar and Michael were behind us.

After reaching the second intersection with the Promontory Trail, the ascent became more strenuous. My legs told me that I needed to rest, so we took a few small breaks before continuing. This year the meadow area that we passed seemed not as large as I remembered. I was not sure if it was the season which made the difference or if my memory was blurred. I spotted a few wildflowers here and there in this open area, otherwise the forest was just green. There was a meet up group which passed us, and a few other hikers on the trail. Besides that, it was a pretty quiet trail, which was nice.

The meadow area is seems smaller this year. [photo by Debbie]

Soon after, we all gathered under a huge tree passing Horton Creek for a well-deserved lunch. A few of us went to the upper creek waterfall for a picture opportunity. Some of the hikers stayed for their lunch break.

Lunch break. [photo by Carol]
Horton Spring. [photo by Tom]
I will if you will. [photo by Tom]
Let us sit together! [photo by Tom]
Terry and Joyce. [photo by Li]
Tom. [photo by Li]
Tom at Horton Spring. [photo by Li]
Tom crosses the creek. [photo by Li]
Anna. [photo by Li]
Lisa. [photo by Debbie]
Debbie. [photo by Li]
Debbie with a horse. [photo by Tom]
Li crosses the creek. [photo by Carol]

Just then I spotted the two late hikers passing the bridge over the creek. They recognized us too. I was happy that they finally made it. So now a total of 13 hikers were on the bridge for a group picture.

The creek was beautiful as it always was. It flowed very well, with waterfalls gushing from greenish mossy lichen and rocks.

The sun shone through the clear water reflected on people’s faces and leaves making everything so cheerful and bright, it lit up everyone’s spirits.

I liked this area very much it always reminded me of good memories and it put pleasant thoughts in my mind. I felt so relaxed listening to the water flowing through the rocks. Some of us went to the spring and snapped a few shots before we left the place.

The whole group of people are here. [photo by Li]
Tom crossing the creek. [photo by Li]
Carol crossing the bridge. [photo by Li]
Chris crossing the bridge. [photo by Li]
Tamar crossing the bridge. [photo by Li]
Glenn and Susan crossing the bridge. [photo by Li]

Going back was easy. It was all downhill and we walked in the shaded green forest.

Left side of the creek appeared here and there and you could see some waterfalls, which made the whole hiking experience wonderful. Everyone walked at a fast and steady pace. In no time we reached the camp ground that meant the hike was over. Another quarter mile on the paved road we returned to the Derrick Trailhead, finishing our loop. We waited until we saw Michael and Tamar from the back and soon we spotted them. Everyone had a great time. Ten of us went to El Rancho for lunch in Payson.

Reach to camp. [photo by Li]
We made it! [photo by Li]

It was a wonderful Saturday with friends in the beautiful forest. I am looking forward to returning to this hike again in the fall season when leaves are turning red again.

→   More pictures, by Li
→   More pictures, by Debbie
→   More pictures, by Carol
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated May 19, 2022