The fall color change is winding down at the higher elevations of the Payson, Pleasant Valley and Globe Ranger districts.
Recommended drives and hikes on the Payson Ranger District:
The cottonwoods, sycamores and willows along the East Verde River, Tonto Creek and Christopher Creek have completed their color change and have lost 70 percent of their leaves. There are pockets of alders along the creeks that are just starting to change colors.
The East Verde River: take Hwy. 87 north through Payson, turn right on Forest Road (FR) 199 (Houston Mesa Rd). After seven miles the road begins to follow the river. Turn left on Control Rd (FR 64), then turn right on FR 32. After two miles the road begins to follow the river again, continue on FR 32 to the Washington Park Trailhead.
Tonto Creek: from Payson go east on Hwy. 260 for 16 miles. Just past mile marker 269 turn left on FR 289. This road follows Tonto Creek for four miles and ends at the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery.
Christopher Creek: from Payson go east on Hwy. 260 for 19 miles, turn left on FR 284 and follow it to See Canyon Trailhead.
Recommended hiking routes include: The Col. Devin Trail #290 from the Washington Park Trailhead, Horton Creek Trail #285 from the Horton trailhead on Tonto Creek Rd. (FR 289), and See Canyon Trail #184 from the See Canyon trailhead.
Recommended drives and hikes on the Globe Ranger District:
Pinal Mountains: oaks and small pockets of aspens have turned color in the Signal Peak area. Maples and aspens have turned red in the upper reaches of Icehouse and Sixshooter Canyons. Ferndell Spring in upper Sixshooter Canyon is home to our nation’s largest canyon maple tree. It is approximately ¾ mile down Sixshooter Canyon Trail #192 from Upper Pinal Campground. These areas can be accessed from FR 651 adjacent to Pinal and Upper Pinal Campgrounds. Color Change is at its peak and leaves are starting to fall.
From Globe follow Jess Hayes Road to the junction of Icehouse Canyon Road (FR 112) and Sixshooter Canyon Road (FR 222). Continue on FR 112 for 2 ¼ miles to the junction of FR 55 and FR 112. Take the right fork and continue for 2 ¼ miles on FR 55 then turn left on FR 651. Proceed 10 miles on FR 651 to the Pinal Campground area.
Recommended hiking routes include: Icehouse Canyon Trail #198 from FR 651 adjacent to the Pinal Campground, and the Sixshooter Canyon Trail #192 from FR 651 adjacent to the Upper Pinal Campground.
Recommended drives and hikes on the Cave Creek Ranger District:
Seven Springs Area: sycamore, cottonwood, and willow trees in this riparian area are estimated at 100 percent color change. From Scottsdale go north on Pima Road and turn right on Cave Creek Road, which turns into FR 24. Continue north on FR 24 for 18 miles to the Seven Springs Area.
Needle Rock is another area to view the colors. From Scottsdale take Pima Rd. north and turn east on Dynamite Rd. and travel 3 miles to where it merges with Rio Verde Drive. Follow Rio Verde for another 9.5 miles and turn left on FR 20. Follow FR 20 for 3 miles to Needle Rock at the river.
For a nice hike take Cave Creek Trail #4 from the Cave Creek Trailhead.
Please contact the ranger district of the area you plan to visit for current road conditions and other updates. Visit the Tonto National Forest Website for contact information.
Cave Creek Ranger District, 40202 N. Cave Creek Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85262, 480-595-3300
Globe Ranger District, 7680 S. Six Shooter Canyon Rd., Globe, Arizona 85501, 928-402-6200
Payson Ranger District, 1009 E. Hwy 260, Payson, Arizona 85541, 928-474-7900