Boulders Loop Trail - An Adventure Waiting to Happen in Payson, AZ
The Grand Canyon State of Arizona has many identifiable features like the Grand Canyon, the Red Rocks of Sedona and the Sunset Crater east of Flagstaff. But many people are unaware of the Stewart Pocket area south of the Mogollon Rim, just outside of Payson, AZ. When one arrives at the trailhead you will see massive Ponderosa Pine trees that mark the entry of this amazing trail. On the North it not only contains the amazing boulder formations of the Granite Dells, but numerous peaks and knolls, with massive boulder out croppings that dot the trail. Ad in a few shallow water crossings of the Stewart Creek, with some great riparian areas and some amazing wild life encounters and you have the makings of a very special adventure.
The Loop is approximately 4 miles in length and is part of the Payson Area Trails System (PATS). The Trailhead is accessed off Phoenix Street in a cul-de-sac. Starting at the E Phoenix Street cul-de-sac PATS Cypress TH, head down Cypress to Boulders North, this is where your adventure will begin.
The Boulders Loop Trail is commonly known by the locals as one of the most beautiful trails in all of Arizona. With house sized boulders that look as if they were brought here by extra terrestrials, the landscape is second to none and the awe-inspiring vistas will leave you breathless.
The Boulders is extremely popular with mountain bikers due to its challenging hills, rocks and washes. Rock‐climbing is also a popular activity due to the sheer cliffs that make up the Granite Dells. Photographers will love capturing nature in its truest form and if you time it just right you may see one of Payson’s resident bald eagles flying over head. Large herds of elk and deer make this area home and often times they welcome you with great shots if you are willing to be patient.
There is also an alternative access point to the Boulders Loop Trail. Take Cypress Trail (2 miles from Trail Access off of Granite Dells Road to Boulders Loop). Level of Difficulty – Moderate The Boulders Loop Trail can also be accessed from the Cypress Trail, which has an established Trail Access approximately 2.0 miles down Granite Dells Road from the Highway 260 intersection. There is no established parking area, so parking opportunities are limited. The trail will head south for 1.1 miles, intersecting with another small access point from Phoenix Street and the future Boulder Creek subdivision, then veer to the east for 0.9 miles until it intersects the Boulders Loop trail.
Length: 4-mile loop.
Rating: Moderate to Difficult.
Elevation: 4,550-4,750 feet.
Directions: Off of highway 87 take E. Phoenix Street. Stay on this road as it meanders through several housing developments. As the homes become more spread out you will see the massive ponderosa pine trees that guard the gate of this amazing trail. Do not turn, just keep going straight until you come to a small cul-de-sac. In the South Eastern Corner of the cul-de-sac you will find access to the trailhead. Stay left as you go around a large slump block water building. You are now on the trail.
Things you may need: Make sure you take good hiking shoes and lots of water as some of the trail is difficult.
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