Horton Creek Trail 285

Tonto National Forest, Arizona

Distance3.3mi
Elevation Gain1,408ft
Trailhead Elevation5,466ft
Top6,585ft
Elevation Min/Max5466/6585ft
Elevation Start/End5466/5466ft

Horton Creek Trail 285

Horton Creek Trail #285 is a hiking trail in Gila County, Arizona. It is within Tonto National Forest. It is 3.3 miles long and begins at 5,466 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 6.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,408 feet. This trail connects with the following: Derrick Trail #33 and Highline Trail #31.

Horton Creek Trail #285 Professional Reviews and Guides

"Want a cool summer hike? Take your dog to Horton Creek and enjoy a splash or three between gentle climbs up this scenic Mogollon Rim trail.

The wide, level path that greets you at the trailhead for Horton Creek Trail 285 meanders briefly through an open meadow, then climbs steadily into a mixed forest of old-growth ponderosa pines, Gambel oak, Arizona sycamores, and the scaly barked alligator juniper. (For courtesy’s sake, resist the urge to skirt the leash rules—during summer months, this can be a busy trail.) From here, enjoy the gurgling creek, blushing Rim-country cliffs, and towering trees along the trail."

"This popular loop travels up the Mogollon Rim to the always gushing Horton Springs, using Highline Trail 31 to connect Derrick Trail 33 and Horton Creek Trail 285. The Rim's transition forest and Horton Creek's riparian channel support a wide variety of flora and fauna, from agave cacti to ponderosa pine and butterflies to mule deer.

If you have young children or smaller dogs,you may want to just take the easiest portion of the route out and back along Horton Creek Trail. Both trails are popular with equestrians, and trail etiquette suggests that hikers yield to horses. OUTSTANDING FEATURES: Rim vistas, gushing spring, riparian meadows, wildlife."

"This is a pleasant day hike along a trout stream.

The trail follows an old logging road that parallels Horton Creek. The trail is within sight of the creek for the first 1.2 miles and no more than 300 yards away the rest of the way. After 3 miles, this trail joins the Highline Trail. Turn left onto the Highline and go another 0.5 mile to the large, beautiful Horton Spring, which gushes out the side of the mountain."

"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."

"Lying under the steep ramparts of the Mogollon Rim, this loop ascends the Derrick Trail to reach the Highline National Recreation Trail, which it follows to Horton Creek, using the excellent Horton Creek Trail to return to the trailhead. Highlights include views of the Mogollon Rim and the beautiful walk down Horton Creek through fine ponderosa pine glades.

Walk into the campground and look for an unsigned trail heading uphill to the east. Follow this trail, which is an old road, 0.7 mile up the ridge to the junction with the Derrick Trail. Turn left on the Derrick Trail and continue the gentle climb east through mixed ponderosa pine and juniper forest. Another 1.4 miles brings you to the junction with the Highline Trail, on the steep slopes below the Mogollon Rim."

Horton Creek Trail #285 Reviews

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5/1/2012
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.
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9/6/2010
Nice, but made the mistake of doing this on Labor Day weekend...big mistake!
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8/28/2010
Great hike, Beware of Yellow jackets that reside in a downed tree near creek. It was not on the main trail but a side trail that followed the creek more closely.
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6/19/2010
Absolutely beautiful hike. Drive time, starting at 4 am (Country Club & Southern, Mesa), was approx 1 hr 35 min. Hike was completed in about 5 hrs 50 min. Probably would have made it in 5 but kept stopping for side trips, pictures, and of course, lots of resting. Temp at 6 am was predicted to be 57, hitting 83 by noon. Did learn the hard way that a clockwise direction is NOT the way to go. Go counter and get the more difficult Highline Tr over with - while you’re fresh, awake and ready to go. As a reward, heading back on the Horton Cr Tr you’ll have the sound of the creek accompanying you all the way. Heading out on Horton Cr Tr, it took us 2 hrs 5 min to reach the Highline junction. After hanging around here for a bit, we crossed the creek and continued on. The Highline got a bit murky and uncertain at times, so keep an eye out for metal diamond trail markers nailed to the trees. They were few & far between, however, so be careful and watchful. And beware the footing! 2 hrs 5 min after beginning the Highline portion, we came across a real marker. A wooden sign pointing uphill, marking a ¾ mi jaunt to Promontory Butte. We had enough climbing for the day and said “no thanks”, continuing southward, looking forward to a good hearty meal. 30 min later another wooden sign appeared noting Derrick Tr, Kohl’s Ranch & Highline. 45 min past that we reached yet another wooden sign, this one noting Derrick, Highline, and the Upper Tonto campground. Keep walking and 15 min later you’ll reach the junction for Derrick Tr. Turn right (west) and you’re minutes away from your car and a well-deserved breakfast or lunch – or both! The parking lot was full by the time we got back. Cars were lined up along the rd and one was parked cattywompous, preventing two other vehicles from being able to leave. I can’t wait to do this hike again, next time counterclockwise and maybe in the fall, to see the colors changing. Definitely a do-over.
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2/27/2010
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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11/17/2007
This is a beautiful hike through a quiet forest to a gushing spring. The hike is better if you take the Derrick Trail out of the campground. It's a little past the Horton Creek Trail, which will be your return route. The Derrick and Highline trails trend up and are steep in some places, but the hills aren't really that strenuous. Spend some time resting by the spring before starting back, and explore the creek on the way down.
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9/29/2007
This trail is fun and relativly easy to hike. I brought my 3 year old son along and carried all his gear for him. We also had my 5 year old son that was carrying a small backpack. Their little legs could only take them about 3 miles back but they had the times of their lives. The scenery is gorgeous surround by nature and a decent sized creek running along the trail. We ended up taking many detours to the creek and into the nerby woods just for fun. When we choose a site that had been used before we were close to the creek and surrounded by the woods. The only bad thing is I noticed alot of dead trees that have fallen and many trees dying from bark beetles so I was aware of where my kids were at all times to not play around dying trees they can tip or 100lb limbs can fall off and kill someone.
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11/5/2006
My wife & I hiked this trail on 11-04-2006. The trail marker sign said this trail was 4.0 miles one way and the head waters at Highland Ridge trail is only 400 yds from the intersection of these 2 trails. The trail is not marked very well, but it is easy to follow. There were arrows and cairns that someone had made on the trail to help at points that you were not sure which way to go. The trail follows the old fire road about 90% of the way. The further you get to the end, the rockier the trail becomes. You must make your way through several areas that are full of rocks about 6" to 24" in size. Don't be discouraged by the lack of water at the trail head. You must follow the dry creek bed for about 1/2 mile before you find the Horton Creek. The creek is very pretty with clear water & several small water falls. There are several excellent camping sites along the entire stretch of this trail. With a camp ground at the beginning of the trail that is open seasonally.
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12/21/2001
One of the most popular trails in Arizona starts in heavily forested terrain. From the trail you can see small animals, the stream (which is underground for the first mile or so), the walls of the mountains around you and the breathtaking flora of the Mogollon Rim area. The trail itself splits into two sections: one is a historic wagon trail, wide and flat, that was used to bring supplies to the settlers who lived along the Highline Trail which intersects futher along; the other is the scenic trail along the creek that meanders along the flowing brook that Zane Grey used for inspiration. Rising only slightly during it's somtimes rocky progress the trail leads to a large open area at the mouth of Horton Spring, a continuously flowing water source. The open area is perfect for backpacking and is used often by boyscouts and other outdoor groups. There is plenty of open, flat camping areas along the trail also and you don't have to travel all the way in to enjoy the natural beauty of this trail.
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Trail Information

Tonto National Forest
Nearby City
Tonto National Forest
Parks
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
Tonto National Forest
Local Contacts

Activity Feed

Sep 2018