I wanted to do this loop 2 weeks ago, but rain was predicted and I was afraid my car may not make it to the trailhead. Luckily I waited, the dry washes would’ve been a mess.
I got a late start and didn’t get up to Payson until late afternoon on Sunday. The road in was rough and at times a little unnerving in my Hyundai Sonata (my poor car has been put through some rough terrain.)
I finally got to the City Creek Trailhead and set out on the 20+ mile loop:
Mazatzal Divide Trail / Red Hills / East Verde River / Doll Baby / back to City Creek Trailhead
The entire morning was all uphill and was a decent workout. Amazingly I ran into several older people doing the same loop. One of the guys was 81 years old! They started about 3 hours before me from the same stating point, and it took them that long to get about half way up the trail. Damn, I hope I can do the same in 40ish years!
I met a few AZT thru hikers and ended up setting up camp in the same area as a few hikers.
The next morning I was treated to some AMAZING views of the mountains and valleys. I made it to the Verde River for lunch and back to my car by mid/late afternoon. It was a great hike!
Check out the video below: