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Horton Creek Professional Review and Guide
"Over 50 miles long, the Highline Trail offers a lengthy route for those interested in exploring the Mogollon Rim. Running just below the rim itself, this National Recreation Trail accesses some of Arizona’s most scenic backcountry. For a ?ne day hike along this route, follow a clockwise loop that heads up the Horton Creek Trail to Horton Spring, continues south on the Highline Trail for a few miles, and then returns to the trailhead via the Derrick Trail."
--Scott S. Warren, 100 Classic Hikes Arizona (The Mountaineers Books).
This is a very nice trail that is poorly marked. There are no blazes and it is easy to take one of the many parallel trails that all lead to the same place. The parking area is across the street from the Tonto Creek Campground. The day we were there it was obvious the pit toilet had not been serviced in quite some time. The trailhead is inside the gate to the campground and drops immediately into the streambed for a short distance before starting up the grade. The trail actually ends at the Highland Trail intersection but Horton Springs are only a couple hundred yards away at that point and you need to make at right at the intersection and follow the water upstream. The cool water coming straight out of the mountain in the shade of the huge Ponderosa Pines is a great spot for lunch. We took just under 2 hours to get to the spring and about the same back down. The temperature was hovering in the high 60’s and the local residents were active, we ran into a 3’ rattlesnake on the trail. It was sunning and warned us on approach then gave up the trail to us.
Excellent trip. Lots of snow (2+ feet), very low visibility at times due to falling snow, was not prepared for this, but we made do. Lost the trail a couple of times, but managed to make it to the spring in a few hours. Very cold. Overall a challenging hike, especially due to the minimal winter-weather gear we packed. Beautiful. RECOMMEND.
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