Male hiker standing on a section of the Arizona Trail near Payson.
Today Tim and I will be heading to Payson. Last night we had a nice campsite on a stretch of jeep trail where there are lots of little places to camp. Well, the one bad thing was that Tim kept unearthing beer bottle caps and bits of glass from broken beer bottles. (People, clean up your messes!) But it was nice in that we had an actual campsite.

It wasn’t that cold last night, either, so Tim and I slept well. After breakfast, he hiked back 3.1 miles to the car while I forged ahead. The plan was for him to drive up to the Hwy. 87 trailhead, then hike in to meet me. When we both got back to the trailhead, we’d drive 30 minutes into Payson and I’d finally get to shower and wash my gross clothes!

The first nine miles of my hike were all along a ranch road, which made for easy hiking. It was cool and shady, so that was nice, too. Sometime before noon, then trail went onto singletrack. And then the fun began.

Tough Road to Payson

The first few miles/hours on the singletrack weren’t so great. The trail was super narrow on the side of a cliff, and it was rocky. So it was hard going up and down. The trail then unrolled down to a creek and should have been a wonder. It was dirt with some rocks, but relatively flat. Unfortunately, the trail here was super overgrown.

All of the vegetation here in Arizona is either thorny or very hard and pokey. So I had to wield my trekking poles like machetes and hack my way along the creek. It took a long time and wasn’t fun. There was also some flowering bush everywhere that had a weird smell. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but not good, either.

So Tim and I were thinking we’d meet up around 1 p.m. If we didn’t, I was to assume he’d been having trouble with his Achilles and was staying at the car. I didn’t find Tim at 1 or even 2 p.m. By then, the trail became very nice – flat and dirt and easy hiking.

I passed a guy named Long-Hauler, who was having shin splint troubles. He said CowStep was about an hour ahead of me, also heading to Payson. Then, suddenly, Tim appeared!

Weird Trailheads

Tim had parked at a trailhead that required hiking in a half-mile to reach the trail. But he said there were all sorts of warning signs posted there, and it looked like you were crossing private property. Well, I thought I’d read there were trailheads on both the north and south sides of Hwy. 87. So instead of getting off at that half-mile trail spur Tim had taken, we hiked under the highway in search of the northern trailhead, from which I assumed we’d easily cross the highway and reach the car.

We found plastic bags filled with trail magic hanging from a tree on the other side of the underpass – score! We took some Snickers bars and raisins. Yum! Then we began hiking. Long story short, there was no other trailhead. So, following Guthooks, we looked for a hole in this barbed wire fence, crawled under, then hiked up to the highway. It was pretty easy, actually.

Once there, the car was a bit of a hike away. Suddenly I spied Cake and Bear Box; Bear Box’s mom was dropping them back off on the trail. We chatted briefly, and then she offered to drive us to our car. Excellent! She’s also a sheriff’s deputy, I believe, and she helped us figure out where Tim should park tomorrow.

I enjoyed a wonderful shower, washed my clothes and then Tim and I went out to dinner. We’re staying at the lovely Comfort Inn in Payson, a great spot. Life is good!


16.3 miles today
349.8 miles to date
450.2 miles to go

Disclosure: This entry contains affiliate links (among regular links) to products I own and like, or which I think you might like. This means that, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.


©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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