If you'd like to take a nice hike where your trail will lead you to a beautiful waterfall, the Barnhart Trail is a great one. In fact, this is one of the Payson Packers' (our local hiking club) favorite hikes.
Coming from Payson, you head south on Highway 87 about 12-1/2 miles. You'll see a sign on the right side of the road that points to the Barnhart Trail. (Coming from the south, the turnoff is just before you get to Rye.) Take that turnoff about 5 miles on a dirt road, and you'll end up in the trail parking lot.
There are nice views just from the parking area. You'll see all kinds of desert vegetation, and there are wonderful views of the Mazatzal Mountains in the background.
Start on the somewhat rocky trail for about three miles. Some of the best views are about three miles from the trailhead. This is also where you'll see the waterfalls, which is a great place for photographs. There are tricky, creek crossing spots at about 4.75 miles in. At about six miles, you'll meet up with the Mazatzal Divide, Arizona Trail. You can come back down the way you hiked in for different views. The total elevation gain is 1,800 feet.
Some words of caution -- overall, this is an easy to moderate hike, however, at some spots, where the trail really starts to climb, there are steep drop-offs over cliffs. If you're uncomfortable with heights, you may want to turn back.
AT A GLANCE
What: Barnhardt hiking trail
Where: 12-1/2 miles south of Payson off Highway 87
What you'll see: well-posted hiking area, with beautiful views
When to go: anytime of the year
Level of experience: easy to moderate, depending upon how far into the canyon you go.