Horton Creek Trail Guide: Hiking In Payson, Arizona
Head onto Horton Trail and experience some of Central Arizona's best wilderness.
<p><b>Horton Creek Tr</b><strong>ail Overview</strong></p>

<ul>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Region: Mogollon Rim, Tonto National Forest</span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Trail: Horton Creek Trail, Horton Springs</span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Trail Length: 7.5 miles</span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Trail Time:</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">3.5 hours</span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Elevation Change: 5,360 feet - 6420 feet (change 1,060 feet)</span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Difficulty: Moderate</span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Attractions: water, spring</span></li>
</ul>

<p><img alt="horton creek" class="image-embed alignnone" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/blog_images/hortoncreek-690x397.jpg" title="" /> <b>Directions to the Horton Creek Trail </b> <span style="font-weight: 400;">If you're coming from Phoenix, drive two hours up the AZ-87. Merge right onto AZ-270. Drive 16 miles to Nf-289 on the left. This is the turn off for the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery. Drive 0.8 miles on Nf-289 until you cross a small bridge. Immediately after the bridge, you’ll see the parking lot on the left marked for Horton Springs Trailhead.</span> Get directions <a href="https://www.google.com/maps/place/Horton+Springs+Trailhead/@34.3402403,-111.0972583,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x872c1e29f2f32871:0x358499d755a88600!8m2!3d34.3402359!4d-111.0950696?hl=en">here</a>. <b>Horton Creek Trail Trailhead Preparations and Hiking Safety Tips</b> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Day hiking in the Tonto National Forest is a great getaway for those who live in Phoenix, Payson, Prescott, or Sedona. &nbsp;There are lots of things you should bring. But don’t forget to check the weather forecast, because it can be really cool at these higher elevations, even when it’s hot in the Valley. &nbsp;There’s a restroom at the parking area, as well as at the campground.</span> <b>Starting the Horton Creek Trail Hike</b> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The first thing to know about the Horton Creek Trail is how to actually find it. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Traveling in a van from Phoenix to Payson with friends, we had a GPS, snacks, and eagerness. Our GPS got us to Payson, and even to the Tonto National Forest. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Where we failed was finding the trailhead. Note: If you hit the fish hatchery, you’ve gone too far. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">We backtracked, found the correct trailhead, and parked. From the parking lot, we walked across the bridge and turned left onto an old Jeep road. We followed the dirt road up a short hill to find Tonto Creek Campground, with the trailhead on the left. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Then the adventure started.</span> <img alt="horton creek trail hike" class="image-embed alignnone" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/blog_images/horton-creek-trail-690x398.jpg" title="" /> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The great thing about Horton Creek Trail is the immediate beauty and crispness. If you’re a lover of trees, this is a perfect trail for you. The weather was significantly cooler (to the dismay of one of the people in our group who failed to pack a jacket), but not so cold that it was uncomfortable. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">As we walked, we were soon met with Horton Creek. A couple of us immediately stopped to take our <a href="http://www.gore-tex.com/blog/find-your-fit-how-to-choose-hiking-boots/">GORE-TEX SURROUND® hiking boots</a> for a spin in the cool creek. After playing around for a bit, we decided to move on (with dry socks, thankfully). </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The creek stayed near us almost the whole way, offering peaceful sounds throughout the hike. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;"><img alt="woman rests near horton creek" class="image-embed alignnone" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/blog_images/hortoncreekrest-690x397.jpg" title="" />I’ll be honest though, if you’re more of a once-every-couple-of-weekends hiker, your legs are going to feel the burn of this hike. Our group stopped for water breaks, snack breaks, lunch breaks, and photo breaks. And also, leg breaks. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite the burn, no one wanted to call it. The peaceful surroundings and promise of a waterfall at the end was enough to keep everyone motivated. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">After about two miles, the trail turned away from the creek and began a rocky climb with several switchbacks. Around this point, we encountered a friendly, and frank, hiker. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;"><img alt="hiking boulders by horton creek" class="image-embed alignnone" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" src="/sites/default/files/blog_images/hikinghortoncreek-690x397.jpg" title="" />"I’m not gonna lie,” he said when asked how much farther the trail was. “When you get to that crummy switchback, and you’re thinking you just want to die, that’s when you’ve made it, and the end of the trail is just 100 meters off.”</span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Our group trudged on up that “crummy” switchback to find a wooden sign indicating Horton Springs was to the right. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">We continued on the trail, greeted some boy scouts camping out, and crossed a small wooden bridge across the creek. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">Back up a hill we went, where we found what some call a faucet, and farther up the hill again and to the left, the reason we came: the waterfall. </span> <span style="font-weight: 400;">As we sat for a waterfall break, we all agreed, any sore legs would definitely be worth it tomorrow. </span> <b>Hiking Essentials for Horton Creek Trail</b></p>

<ol>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="https://www.rei.com/product/767086/sunday-afternoons-adventure-hat"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat: </span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">Purchased with the thought of protecting my face from the sun, this hat turned out to be perfect for a light sprinkle, too. Our hike went from sunny to overcast and a bit rainy; the hat was great for both elements. </span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="http://www.bluelizard.net/products/sunscreen-sensitive-3oz"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Sensitive:</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide combine for broad spectrum UVA and UVB skin protection. As a pale redhead, sunscreen is vital for any outdoor adventure (even getting the mail) and Blue Lizard has never left me burnt. The 3-ounce tube even fits conveniently in a side pocket or fanny pack (if you’re into that).</span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="http://shop.camelbak.com/octane-18x/d/1304_c_160_cl_4584"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Octane™ 18X</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">: No need to stop and sip with this expandable pack. With ultra-light materials, this reservoir is perfect for a 3-hour plus day hike. </span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="https://www.rei.com/product/850810/hydro-flask-wide-mouth-vacuum-bottle-40-fl-oz"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hydro Flask Wide-Mouth Vacuum Bottle:</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> For those without the investment of a reservoir pack, the Hydro Flask is another great option. You’ll have less water depending on your size (I have a 40-ounce), but water and ice stay cold for up to 24 hours. </span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="http://www.gore-tex.com/product/la-sportiva-synthesis-gore-tex-surround-boot/1415354523929/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">La Sportiva Synthesis GORE-TEX SURROUND® Boot:</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Horton Creek Trail has lots of options for playing in and around water. With these hiking boots we didn’t have to worry about skipping stone to stone. The GORE-TEX product technology allowed us to feel the creek’s ripples through our shoes, but without leaving our socks wet at all. </span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="http://www.kindsnacks.com/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">KIND</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> and </span><a href="http://www.clifbar.com/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Clif bars</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">: Easy to pack, easy to snack. Just remember: Leave no trace. We picked up a few abandoned wrappers of fellow hikers along the way.</span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="https://www.rei.com/product/827541/marmot-minimalist-rain-jacket-mens"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Marmot Minimalist Rain Jacket</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">: Though 60 degrees Fahrenheit isn’t necessarily cold, when you’re coming from 80-degree weather in Phoenix, it can be quite the adjustment. This jacket is engineered with GORE-TEX PACLITE® product technology and only weighs 15 ounces.</span></li>
<li style="font-weight: 400;"><a href="http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-Day-Hiker-First-Aid-Kit/product/1402120911239/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Day Hiker First Aid Kit</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">: Thankfully we didn’t have to actually use this kit, but bringing along a day hike kit such as this one gives you the supplies you might need in case of an emergency. </span></li>
</ol>

<p><b>PACK IT UP AND HEAD ON OUT</b> <span style="font-weight: 400;">The gear needed for a nice day hike doesn’t have to be fancy. Make sure you’re prepared for any weather changes or emergencies that may come up. If you like your hikes full of trees, crisp air, and a nice creek, check out our feature on the Horton Creek Trail in Payson, Arizona.</span> <strong>Interested In Other Arizona Hiking Trails? Check Out:&nbsp;</strong></p>

<ul>
<li><a href="http://www.gore-tex.com/blog/fay-canyon-trail-guide-hiking-sedona-staple/">Fay Canyon Trail in Sedona</a></li>
<li><a href="http://www.gore-tex.com/blog/fossil-springs-trail-guide-waterfall-bound-arizonas-coconino-forest/">Fossil Springs near Payson</a></li>
<li><a href="http://www.gore-tex.com/blog/road-mile-zero-hiking-arizona-trail/">The Arizona Trail</a></li>
</ul>

<p>&nbsp; &nbsp;</p>
Gore-tex Newsletter