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Located In The Largest Ponderosa Pine Forest In The World!


East of Payson to the Mogollon Rim on Highway 260

Mileage is the approximate distance from the intersection of Hwy 87 & 260


  • Mogollon Rim Visitors Center –30 miles east of Payson to the Mogollon Rim on Highway 260, on right (well worth the trip). Located on the Mogollon Rim (Over 7,000 feet in elevation) where you can obtain information on the many vista points (view of the Tonto National Forest below), the lakes, fishing, picnicking, camping, boating, hiking and wildlife.

  • Payson Ranger Station – Hwy 260.  Information on camping, hiking, fishing and hunting in the Rim Country below the Mogollon Rim.  Short exercise trail adjacent to the station. 928-474-7900

  • National Forest recreation & reservation – 877-444-6777


  • Christopher Creek Campground – 21 miles on the right.  Full-service campground.  Fishing & wading in Christopher Creek which runs through the middle of the campground.   More Info Click Here

  • Upper Tonto Creek Campground – 17 miles & turn left.  The campground is approx. 1 mile on the right.  Developed campground.  Access to hiking trails & both Horton and Tonto Creek fishing and water fun.  More Info Click Here

  • Ponderosa Campground – 15 miles on the right.  Developed campground.  Dump station (fee charged).  Nature Trail which is open to non-campers.  Group campground on the left side of Hwy 87 requires reservations. More Info Click Here

  • Sharp Creek – 1.5 Miles east of Christopher Creek. 28 Units with tables, grills, drinking water, vault toilets and nature trails, spaces handle up to 45’ trailers. No more than 2 vehicles per unit. No more than 8 people per unit. Host available. More Info Click Here


  • Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery – 34.5 miles on right. Young road FR 512 to 33 road, follow signs. Canyon Creek Hatchery produces on average 80,000 lbs. of trout that represents 20% of the total trout stock in Arizona, generating an economic impact of $125.9 million to the state; also the hatchery dedicates around 90% of its trout production to stock the White Mountains which represent 65% of all the trout stocked in the White Mountains.

  • Tonto Fish Hatchery – 17 miles & turn left.  approx. 4 miles to the hatchery. North of Payson, feed the fish, take a self-guided tour or photographs, or enjoy birding. Forest Rd. 289. Arizona Game and Fish, Tonto Creek,
    (928) 478-4200


  • Rancho Tonto Fishing Pond – 19 miles on left. Follow Tonto Fish Hatchery directions.  “Hook em & cook em”, fish for trout and cook what you catch. 928-478-0002


BIKING TRAILS – Payson Ranger District 928-474-7900

  • Forest road 195 – is four miles long, rated “easy” and offers a spectacular view of Chevelon Canyon. This trail is accessed from FR 300 (Woods Canyon Lake Rd), 7 miles from the 260 junction. From Fr 300, turn right (east), travel a ½ mile to the Habitat gate & park. FR 106 and 106A also offers great views and are located a little further down FR 300, Off FR 169 about nine miles from the 260 junction.

  • Highline to Christopher Creek – Forest Rd #440 and Ends at its intersection with HWY 260 approximately 7 miles east of Christopher Creek It’s technically difficult in spots, but not impossible to bike. If you stay in your seat and push yourself, this trail will make you a better rider. The rewards follow each hard section— smooth and fast singletrack. The Highline’s hypnotic path weaves toward the rim and down into a drainage gulch, then away from the rim and up to a rocky viewpoint. In and down, out and up, over and over until reaching the Christopher Creek split. Trail Surface: Singletrack that quickly changes from smooth to rocky. A portion of the trail is on AZ 260.

  • Naegelin/Valentine Ridge – The trails will vary in length and difficulty, but all will begin at the Valentine Ridge Campground. To get there, take Hwy 260 to Fr 512 (Young Rd) and head south. Turn left on the FR 188.

  • Willow Springs Trail – 30 miles on SR 260 left side mile marker 283. Willow Springs Lake was Arizona’s first trail designated for mountain biking. Although a bit hard to find the way sometimes, it’s worth a visit both for the scenery and the weather.

  • FR 300 to Woods Canyon – 30 miles on SR 260 Left side Woods Canyon Lake exit. Begin the ride after parking at the first parking lot immediately after turning on to FR 300 also known as the Rim road. 2 lane road with no bike lane.


HIKING TRAILS – Trail maps available at Christopher Creek Real Estate Office - For more info visit

  • Babe Haught Trail – 20 miles NE of Payson off of HWY 260. The trail begins at the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery. Approx. 4.5 miles from 260 & fr 289. This trail was used to transport produce to the top of Mogollon Rim.

  • Highline Trail #31 – Begins just south of Camp Geronimo Boy Scout Camp on Forest Rd #440 and Ends at its intersection with HWY 260 approximately 7 miles east of Christopher Creek. The trail passes along the base of the Mogollon Rim. Spectacular views of the Rim to the north and the Mazatzal Wilderness to the south.

  • Horton Spring Trail # 285 – 16 miles NE of HWY 260 to Forest road 289. The trail begins at Upper Tonto Creek Campground, approximately 1 mile from the intersection of HWY 260 and FR 289. The trail runs along Horton Creek to its origin at Horton Spring. At the spring and the Highline Trail, it joins Horton spring # 292.

  • Horton Spring Trail #292 – 16 miles NE of HWY 260 to Forest road 289. The Horton Creek Trail # 285 begins at Upper Tonto Creek Campground, approximately 1 mile from Trail intersection of HWY 260 and FR 289.Trail# 285 runs along Horton Creek to its origin Horton Spring. At the spring and the Highline Trail, the trail joins Horton Spring Trail # 292. Trail # 292 runs between this point & F.R. 300.

  • See Canyon Trailhead – 22 miles on left. Forest Road 284 – Access to Christopher Creek, fishing, horse and hiking trails, bathrooms & Parking.

  • 260 Trailhead – 27 miles on left.  East end of 51 mile long Highline National Recreational Trail with trails ascending to the Mogollon Rim.  The historic trail was established to like early homesteads & ranches in the late 1800’s.

  • Railroad Tunnel to Nowhere – Take Forest Road 300 & stop at the head of the East Verde River.  A monument to the Battle of Big Dry Wash marks the spot, along with a sign pointing to General Springs.  Follow switchback trail down into the canyon, and the tunnel is hidden up to your left in a side canyon.  This is a difficult hike.


  • Kohl’s Ranch Lodge Stables – 928-478-0030 Come join us for a one-two hour or half-day horseback ride in the tall pines. Experience gentle horses, humorous guides and breathtaking scenery along Tonto Creek. You may even see deer, elk, turkey or javelina along the way.

  • MTM Ranch North – – 480-488-4538 Feel confident and comfortable riding through the beautiful Tonto and Apache Sitgraves National Forests on a fine, experienced horse. See the magic vistas from the edge of the rim. Travel the trails of General George Crook and see abundant wildlife. Your guide will tell tales of the old west and amaze you with their knowledge of the Mogollon Rim history.



  • Tonto Natural Bridge – 8.5 miles on left off of Hwy 87 North of Payson, follow signs. “Tonto Natural Bridge is located in…the central part of Arizona…. It is in Pine Canyon, a tributary of East Verde River…. The country is mountainous, with deep canyons, towering peaks, and precipitous cliffs. The elevation of the bridge in the bottom of Pine Canyon is approximately 4600 feet above sea level. The outstanding feature that has made this place (The Mogollon Plateau Area) famous is the Tonto Natural Bridge. It is unique among natural bridges in that it is formed of travertine. Most bridges are either in sandstone, as witness Rainbow Bridge and other natural bridges in Utah, or in hard limestones, such as the famous Natural Bridge in Virginia.” 928-476-4202

  • Petrified Forest – Hwy 87 to Payson left on 260 East to Heber, 377 North to Holbrook, and 180 South to the park More than 200 million years ago, flourishing trees and vegetation covered much of this area of Northeastern Arizona. But volcanic lava destroyed the forest, and the remains were embedded into sediment comprised of volcanic ash and water. Erosion set the logs free millions of years later, revealing the petrified wood – made mostly of quartz – But there’s more than wood to the Petrified Forest’s history. You can see remnants of more than 13,000 years of human history at the park, including Puerco Pueblo – a nearly 800-year-old, 100-room dwelling, a diverse, extensive collection of prehistoric pottery fossils and even a protected section of historic Route 66. – See more at: or call (928) 524-6228


  • Painted Desert – Hwy 87 to Payson left on 260 East to Heber, 377 North to Holbrook, and 180 South to the park A natural canvas millions of years in the making, no one event shaped the Painted Desert. Instead, the area is evidence of Earth’s volatility. Home to some of the nation’s most memorable formations and features, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, and sunlight, all combined to create the Painted Desert. Deposits of clay and sandstone, stacked in elegant layers, reflects the setting Arizona sun in an altering display of colorful radiance. A remarkable sight that helps make Northern Arizona so unique and picturesque. The Navajo and Hopi people have lived in this region for hundreds of years, but it was Spanish Colonialists who gave it the name we know it by today – El Desierto Pintado. – See more at: or call (928) 524-6228



  • Black Canyon – Journey through Time – This auto tour travels through Black Canyon on Forest Service Road 86 stopping at several historic and prehistoric sites. This brochure includes information about each of the different site (brochures available in ERA office in Christopher Creek only) It will be helpful to check your odometer at the intersection of State Route 260 (mile marker 303.7) and Black Canyon Lane. The distance to each stop from the intersection is noted with the information about that stop under “access.” Each of the sites along Forest Service Road 86 is marked with a numbered sign. Trail are marked with blue diamond. Best time is May-October.


  • Control Road – to Tonto Village to Pine road 64

  • Colcord Road – 22.5 miles & turn right.  Scenic drive to rental cabins & great for viewing wildlife such as deer and elk at sun up or sunset

  • Chamberlain Trail – 29 miles on right off of Colcord Rd, take back road to Young through Haigler Creek.

  • Dude Fire Area – 15.2 miles & left on Control Road 64.  Follow the Control Road to the junction with Forest Road 29 (about 4.2 miles).  Keep to the left when you come to the Tonto Village turnoff.  Turn right on Forest Road 29.  Forest Road 29 is a narrow dirt road and is not suited for low clearance vehicles past point 10.  Self-guided Auto Tour brochures are available at the Payson Ranger Station.




  • Canyon Creek – Farther east down highway 260, past the turnoff for the town of Young, Canyon Creek is another fine fishery—indeed, in my opinion, the best trout stream in Arizona. To find it, head south on Forest Road 288, then turn east on Forest Road 33, and continue to a left turn on Forest Road 34, which heads northeast, and soon crosses the creek.


  • Christopher Creek – Twelve miles from the turnoff to Tonto Creek, Highway 260 crosses Christopher Creek. For access, head into the city of Christopher Creek and turn north onto Forest Road 284 to reach Sea Canyon. The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) stocks this part of Christopher Creek bi-weekly from spring until fall, creating fairly good fishing from May 1 through late August or early September. Little more than a thread of water, this tiny brook begins at about 8,100 feet on the rim and runs for 3.3 miles. Its banks are shaded by poplar and spruce, which offer ideal shady cover for stealthy anglers.


  • Horton Creek – About 1 mile from the highway, along the road to the Tonto Fish Hatchery, the Horton Trailhead marks the beginning of a 2-mile hike down to the pocket water stretches of Horton Creek. This beautiful, pristine stream twists and turns through limestone cuts covered by a branched canopy. Recent drought years and low water levels have taken their toll on Horton Creek’s population of wild brown trout and these days, anglers must probe the pocket water stretches to find the few browns remaining.


  • Tonto Creek – Tonto Creek is less than 30 minutes from Payson. Exactly 21 miles east of town, turn left at the sign for Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery 289 Rd to reach an improved campground with restroom facilities, picnic tables, and barbeque pits—and Tonto Creek. In the vicinity of the campground, 1.3 miles of beautiful water spills over softball-size rocks with intermittent gravel. The stream bubbles along under a canopy of trees whose limbs can prove somewhat hazardous to fully loaded fly boxes, at the end of this road is the Tonto Fish Hatchery.




  • Willow Springs – 30 miles on SR 260 left side mile marker 283. Willow Springs Lake is a cold water lake located on top of the Mogollon Rim in northern Arizona, about 23 mi east of the city of Payson in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, immediately adjacent to SR 260. It is a canyon-bound lake located on the Mogollon Rim, and is part of the collectivity known as the Rim Lakes. It can be found upstream from Chevelon Canyon Lake. The facilities are maintained by Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest division of the USDA Forest Service.


  • Knoll Lake – Knoll Lake is part of the Blue Ridge Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest. It gets its name from a rocky island located in the middle of the lake. Knoll Lake is located in Leonard Canyon, Arizona, along the Mogollon Rim. This 75-acre lake is located at 7,340 feet elevation and is closed to visitors in the winter months. Bald eagles may be seen during the winter months if the roads are open late into the season. The facilities are maintained by Coconino National Forest division of the USDA Forest Service.


  • Black Canyon – Black Canyon Lake is a lake in Navajo County, Arizona, United States. The lake was built along the Mogollon Rim in 1964 by the Arizona Game and Fish Department to provide water recreation opportunities for the public. Despite being affected by the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski Fire, Black Canyon Lake remains a popular and beautiful spot for picnics, camping and fishing. Because of the fire, the entire area around Black Canyon Lake is open for day use only due to the danger of falling trees. The facilities are maintained by Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest division of the USDA Forest Service.


  • Blue Ridge Reservoir - Blue Ridge Reservoir is located in the Mogollon Rim area of the state of Arizona. Clint Wells, Arizona. Blue Ridge Reservoir is one of the more scenic reservoirs in the area, with trees going down to the water line. The facilities are maintained by Coconino National Forest division of the USDA Forest Service.


  • Chevelon Canyon – Chevelon Canyon Lake is a small reservoir located in northern Arizona, about 15 mi west of the city of Heber. It is one in a series of small, canyon-bound lakes located on the Mogollon Rim, collectively referred to as the Rim Lakes. It is among the most difficult to access in the region. It is also the second reservoir on Chevelon Creek, downstream from Woods Canyon Lake.


  • Bear Canyon – Bear Canyon Lake is a lake built by Arizona Game and Fish Department for angler recreation. The facilities are maintained by Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest division of the USDA Forest Service. Bear Canyon Lake is located nearly an hour’s drive northeast of Payson, Arizona. Access is restricted in the winter when roads are closed due to snow, generally November to late April.




  • Besh ba Gowah Archaeological Park – At Besh-Ba-Gowah Archaeological Park in Globe, Arizona, visitors walk through a 700-year-old Salado Culture pueblo, climb ladders to second story rooms and view the typical furnishings of the era. Numerous artifacts of this remarkably advanced culture are also displayed in the Besh-Ba-Gowah Museum. Besh-Ba-Gowah Pueblo is located at the confluence of Pinal Creek and Ice House Canyon Wash, south of present-day Globe, Arizona. Besh-Ba-Gowah has one of the largest single site archaeological collections in the southwest and is one of the most significant finds of Southwest archaeology. It is one of the largest and most complex of the Salado communities. Archaeologists consider Besh-Ba-Gowah a ceremonial, redistribution and food storage complex. Salado Culture is identified as the cultural period from 1150 to 1450 in the Tonto Basin.


  • Paleo Site – 12-13 miles from Payson, just before Kohl’s Ranch turnoff. You will see a sign. Parking area is large. Park in the lot and go through the gate south of the lot. The main collecting is about 100 yards on the right. Fossils you will find are of Naco formation, a Pennsylvanian shale-limestone that was deposited about 300 million years ago. According to the Bureau of Land Management website. The OPLMA-PRP provides for casual collecting of reasonable amounts of common invertebrate and plant fossils from public lands for personal use without permit see for more info.


  • Shoofly Village Ruins – 5 miles northeast of Payson. Hwy 87 to Houston Mesa road turn east. The parking lot is just off a paves road a short distance past the Mesa Del Caballo subdivision. See how people lived 800 years ago. 602-225-5200

  • Tonto National Monument – Contains the ruins of two cliff dwellings established by the Salado Indians around 1300 AD. The southeast-facing settlements were built quite high up a steep hillside within well-protected natural caves overlooking the Tonto Basin, which is now flooded forming Theodore Roosevelt Lake, though originally the Salt River flowed through the basin which was therefore well irrigated and fertile. As with many other ancient peoples of the Southwest, the Salado appear to have abandoned their villages suddenly, early in the fifteenth century, for reasons which are not known. The national monument, established by President Roosevelt in December 1907, is located 0.8 miles from State Route 188 (The Apache Trail) and the shore of Theodore Roosevelt Lake, in a generally rocky and quite empty area that has extensive and varied cacti. The nearest campground is on the far side of AZ 188, nearly opposite – managed by the USFS, this has many sites on flattish land within sight of the lake. Free primitive camping is possible a short distance southeast, alongside tracks heading up into the hills.

  • Native American Adventure Itinerary - Learn More Click Here - Living up to its slogan, Gila County has always been a wild country.  It was once home to 1,000's of different Native American settlements.  The area was literally surrounded by the Sinagua to the north, the Anasazi to the northeast, the Mogollon to the southeast, the Salado to the south, and the Hohokam to the southwest.  This adventure will guide you through their ancient lives.  Welcome to Arizona's Wild History.

    • Tribal Gaming: Apache Gold Resort & Mazatzal Hotel & Casino

    • Native American History & Culture

    • 200-room prehistoric Salado masonry pueblo

    • Native American cliff dwellings

    • Ancient settlements like the "Mogollons" at Shoofly Indian Ruins 

    • Largest Travertine Bridge in the World

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