March 19-26, 2018

LENGTH: 81 miles

AVERAGED MPH: 1.7 mph (about 1.3 mph on westside trails, 2.2 mph on AZT)



DIFFICULTY: Experienced on westside, moderate on AZT

BEST TIME TO HIKE: November-April

WATER: Fall/Winter 2017-2018 very dry. However, pools & seeps on westside trails: Sheep Seep, Round Spr box dry but small upper hillside pool, Bear Cr, Davenport Cr (near Club jct), Deadman Cr (running), Mountain Spr, Wet Bottom Cr and Fuller Seep; On AZT south from Red Hills jct: canyon before City Cr jct, Horse Seep, Chilson Spr, Bear Spr, Thicket Spr/below canyon, Squaw Flat/McFarland Cr, upper Sycamore Cr and Cat Spr.

SOLITUDE TIPS: Few if any people on westside trails (#88, #25, #272). Expect 10+ people/day on AZT portions & more on weekends near trailheads for City Creek, Barnhardt, Mt. Peeley and Mormon Grove.

*LEAVE NO TRACE: Website  offers camping practices to protect the wilderness. Most advice good but we have not found research to support conventional advice to pack a trowel and dig “cat hole” to bury waste 6 inches. Many decomposing agents in the top layers of soil. Therefore, locate organic soil area often near tree, lift a large rock and/or kick a little deeper, and then cover waste with organic soil or leaf litter before replacing rock(s). (We left 7 rock-cairned samples along AZT documented with GPS coordinates/photos to check this theory, if someone interested in evaluating these after a couple years, contact us).


BOOKS Dollar, Tom. 1999. Guide to Arizona’s Wilderness Areas published by Westcliffe Press covers Matzatzal wilderness trails; but written before Willow Fire so somewhat outdated.
Alcock, John. 2017. After the Wildfire: 10 Years Recovery after the Willow Fire. University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Mazatzal Wildernesss Trails. Undated. In Arizona Trails Book, Grand Canyon Chapter, BSA. Online. Good general wilderness description and list of loop hikes for scout badge credit. Includes obscure westside trails and some (like Deer Creek) damaged after Willow Fire. Click Here for Information

WILDERNESS MAPS: Mazatzal Wilderness. 1998. Tonto National Forest.
Mazatzal and Pine Wilderness Areas. 2009. National Geographic Trails Illustrated Topographic Map.

TOPOGRAPHIC MAPS: USGS 7.5” quads covering 2018 loop: Reno Pass, Lion Mountain, Table Mountain, Cypress Butte, North Peak, Mazatzal Peak. Old maps dated 1960s-70s but trail alignments fairly accurate except new reroutes.
GPS: We used Garmin 64st loaded with Garmin’s 1:24:000-scale Southwest map. Without GPS you may get lost and/or spend much time trail finding.

Payson Ranger District, Tonto National Forest 928-474-7900
Mesa Ranger District, Tonto National Forest 480-610-3300
Arizona Trail Mazatzal Regional Trail Steward: John Matteson

Notes: Books and Trails Illustrated maps can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or other on-line book outlets. Maps can be purchased at REI (Recreation Inc.), and other outdoors stores. All Arizona topographic maps are available from Wide World Maps and outlets;
We used Lookout Mountain Outdoors, 17232 North Cave Creek Road, Phoenix, AZ. 

Tonto Wilderness and forest maps available for walk-ins at forest and district offices, by mail from Regional office and online from National Forest Store. For purchase details see:

USGS recently “updated” all topographic maps with current satellite imagery; backcountry features like roads and trails were NOT added, so be sure to get “old” maps.

Neither GPS or any hard copy maps are completely up-to-date on recent trail alignments. If there is conflict between map and trail markers, follow the cairns.