Located just north of Payson in the Tonto National Forest, surrounded by lush grounds of pine trees and waterfalls, the Pyeatt Draw was honored Oct. 14 by BFGoodrich Tires as one of the 2006 Outstanding Trails.
As part of the program, BFGoodrich Tires presented a $3,500 grant to the Rim Country 4 Wheelers, which will be used to preserve the scenic trail and continue conservation efforts for one of America's picture-perfect areas for off-roading.
"The money will be used to keep the back roads open for both motorized and non-motorized use," said Chuck Jacobs, president of the Rim Country 4 Wheelers.
BFGoodrich Tires, working in conjunction with the Tread Lightly! program and United Four Wheel Drive Associations, chose Pyeatt Draw as one of the 2006 Outstanding Trails because of its beautiful scenic creek bed trail.
It offers just about everything for the true off-roader. The area is a wash that winds its way through the forest with an abundance of ledges and rocks to traverse.
Jacobs explained that four-wheeling can be considered anything from just going for a drive on the back roads to see some beautiful country -- which is called "trail riding" -- to traveling rough and treacherous territory that challenges both the vehicle and the driver's skills -- known as rock crawling.
Pyeatt Draw is a creek bed, but also has a road alongside it. So, it suits both kinds of four-wheeler's needs, Jacobs said.
"Pyeatt Draw has the perfect combination of leveled obstacles for every type of off-roader, a long-standing history within the community and beautiful scenic grounds making it a special fit for the 2006 Outstanding Trails program," said Joe Mazur, light truck marketing manager for BFGoodrich Tires. "We're honored to partner with the Rim Country 4-Wheelers and to help in the conservation efforts for this amazing off-road trail."
The Rim Country 4-Wheelers is a four-wheel drive club comprised of members from across the state, but primarily across the Mogollon Rim.
Jacobs said the group was organized in 1997 and has about 60 member vehicles and more than 100 members. RC4W is a member of the Arizona State Association of 4-Wheel Drive Clubs. RC4W is also a member of United Four-Wheel Drive Association.
The main thrust of the RC4W is pursuing four-wheel drive recreation in the state of Arizona with monthly trips of one to three days in length. RC4W visits many areas of the state on roads that varying degrees of difficulty.
"We spend a lot of time working closely with the Forest Service," Jacobs said. "We have adopted 60 miles of trails, most in the Payson Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest, plus one in the Pleasant Valley Ranger District (Young)."
In adopting trails, the RC4W members agree to do three things: Keep signs (provided by the USFS) posted, trim back the brush, and pick up the litter.
"We want to make these trails available and make sure all users have access," Jacobs said. "We also encourage responsible use."
Adopting a trail does not mean actually maintaining it, which would take heavy equipment not readily available and assuming a portion of the liability for it, he said.
After a careful selection process, five of North America's "outstanding" off-road trails were nominated as Outstanding Trails. They were the Pyeatt Draw, Historic Naches Pass, a scenic and historically valuable trail in Naches, Wash., Hell's Revenge, a rugged trail known for its "slick rock" and sandstone terrain in Moab, Utah, Black Bear Pass, Colorado's most demanding off-road drive, and Upper Tellico OHV Area, North Carolina's most beautiful and diverse off-road terrain.
Jacobs said it was really Thom Campbell who pushed for the recognition of Pyeatt Draw, "because he loves the creek bed."
To find the Pyeatt Draw trail: From Payson, take Houston Mesa Road and make a right onto Forest Road 198, drive approximately 5.74 miles and turn right onto FR 1256. From this road you will have two trails to choose from. The difficult portion of this trail complex is run in the creek bottom of the draw and is rated 4 to 4.5. The easier run is on the road.
The road-rated portion will take you to a number of other trails you can go on (1258 to the 1593 and back onto the 198. Continue on the 1602 and end making a left on the FR 433 to return to the Control Road or a right on the FR 433 to make your way back to Hwy 260).
"This is a good place to own a Jeep," Jacobs said. "There's excellent four-wheeling 10 minutes in any direction."
Both Tread Lightly! And UFWDA are nonprofit organization dedicated to responsible and ethical outdoor recreation. BFGoodrich Tires collaborated with these two groups to select the finest North American trails, and will continue to work with these organizations on restoration and education initiatives.