Passage #26 - Hardscrabble Mesa

The rocky trail on Hardscrabble Mesa Location:  Twin Buttes to Pine

Length:  12.0 miles

Southern Trailhead:  Twin Buttes
- GPS Coordinates:  34.35914° N, 111.55736° W
- Access: From AZ 87, turn west into the town of Strawberry and continue west on Fossil Creek Rd. for 2.8 miles. Turn left (south) onto FR 428 and continue for almost 1 mile and then turn right onto FR 194. Follow FR 194 for 4.2 miles to AZT markers.

Northern Trailhead:  Pine Trailhead
- GPS Coordinates:  34.37432° N, 111.44310° W
- Access: Drive south of Pine on AZ 87 for 0.6 miles and turn left (east) to reach a large parking area and the trailhead.

Trail Route Description:  This passage begins on FR 194 near Twin Buttes. The route follows FR 194 for ~1.2 miles before turning right (southeast) onto a two-track running under a powerline. The route follows this rocky road in a southeast direction, then turns to the right onto FR 251 and veers away from the powerlines and then back towards them. The route turns to the south and descends to a barricaded gate, turns east past East Tank and through another barricaded gate. The trail descends past Ridge Tank and around to Oak Spring and a trail junction with Walnut Trail (#251). From here the trail climbs out of Oak Spring Canyon, runs more-or-less level for nearly a mile before descending past Bradshaw Tank to Pine Creek. A short ways downstream the trail heads east again and loops around to Highway 87. After crossing the highway it passes a resupply box near a fence corner and then quickly hits a junction (stay left through a heavy steel gate) and loop back to the Pine trailhead.

Difficulty:  Moderate

Season(s):  All year. Snow can be present at higher elevations after winter storms and lower elevations can be quite warm in summer (current weather forecast)

Water:  Water can usually be found at Oak Spring. Water can sometimes be found in some of the stock tanks along the route.

The trail near Oak Spring Notes/Warnings:

  • All water along this passage should be purified prior to use.
  • Please respect all livestock operations in this area.


  • USGS Topographic Maps: Cane Springs Mountain and Buckhead Mesa.
  • Tonto National Forest map.
  • BLM Information Center maps.
  • "Day Hikes & Trail Rides in Payson's Rim Country" by Roger and Ethel Freeman, Gem Guides Book Co., Baldwin Park, CA., ISBN 1-889786-24-1.

For more information, contact:

Current Trail Information:

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