Tonto National Forest & Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

Last week, I was on  a west coast swing. After visiting Horst Engineering de Mexico in Guaymas, Sonora, I met up with Debbie in Phoenix, Arizona. We headed to Payson for the Zane Grey 50 Mile Endurance Run. On the way to Payson, we stopped to spend a night with friends in Mesa. On Friday morning, we headed north, stopping to take in some views in Tonto National Forest. I’ve become a big fan of Arizona’s wildness.

We had time to kill in Payson before checking in, so we visited the Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin (replica). There was a great juice bar in Payson cat a natural foods store called Back to Basics. Our motel was right on the main strip. Before Friday evening registration, I drove Debbie 13 miles north to Pine to check out the trailhead for the Highline Trail where the race was due to start at 5:00 A.M. on Saturday. We walked around, and then drove south again, stopping at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park.

The park is at the bottom of a deep valley between Pine and Payson. The road down to the bridge was loaded with steep switchbacks and had a gradient of 16%. I was wishing I had a bicycle!

The bridge is 183 feet high and 400 feet long. It is the largest natural bridge in the country and is a geologic wonder. Debbie and I did a short hike/run on the Pine Canyon Trail that ran along the creek bed and led to the bridge. Passing through the bridge was really sketchy. The rock was super soft and slippery, and it was wet in spots. It was a beautiful sight.

We had a fantastic time during our short trip to Payson and the surrounding area. Rim country gets its name from the Mogollan Rim is a 200 mile long ridge that cuts across Arizona. The 50 mile Highline Trail is in the shadow of the rim between Pine and Christopher Creek. There is a lot of outdoor adventure opportunities in this part of Arizona.

1 Response to “Tonto National Forest & Tonto Natural Bridge State Park”


  1. 1 Barbara Schieffer 29 April 2012 at 10:19 am

    That is really neat. I would love to see things like that.


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