Thursday, July 16, 2020

Horton Creek Trail, Payson, Az

The creek and spring is named after cattle rancher L.J. Horton who settled near the creek in the 1880’s. While we still don’t know much about L.J. Horton, he did write memoirs while residing in the Arizona Pioneer Home about the Pleasant Valley War which can be found at the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, Arizona. Horton Creek Trail, originally an old wagon road, gave cattlemen like Horton access to the rim country and its many resources. Unfortunately, shortly after settling near the creek he lost his heard to thieves and never ranched again. The rim lakes (Canyon, Bear, Knoll) drain into the the natural spring which literally gushes from the side of the rim like an an enormous faucet.

 Once you cross the creek bridge you will look for parking on the left in the Horton Picnic site. After parking, you will hike back down the road and cross the bridge. Turn left on the dirt road and this will lead you to a sign for trail #285. The trail drops quickly into Horton Creek. The trail with then evolve into a larger path along the west side of the creek and at .25 mi you will come to an old fence and turnstile.
At .75 mi the trail forks. The left fork is the official trail and you’re more likely to encounter other hikers on this route. The right fork takes you along the creak where you will come across several small campsites. The right fork is certainly more scenic as it traverses right along the creek allowing you to see all the waterfalls and foliage. Both forks will rejoin about 1 mi from the trailhead. 

The trail with course the creek for another 2 mi with some rocky parts on the old wagon trail, but the grade is easy. The trail ends at Highline Trail #31. To reach Horton Springs you will continue on Highline Trail for about 300 feet and to your right you will see this unusual spring gushing from the side of the rim. The spring runs year around. You can return the way you hiked or make a loop by continuing along the Highline Trail and taking Derrick Trail #33 back to the trailhead.