Hiker Heaven: Walk The Rim Country For Scenic Beauty And Health



Dave Engleman likes to hoof it.


Dave Engleman walks two-and-a-half miles every day, rain or shine, with his dog Annie. But Annie has to stay at home when Engleman leads his weekly hike with the Payson Packers.

He hikes about 364 miles a year, and an average of seven miles a week with the Payson Packers.

"It's challenging and it's healthy," Engleman said.

"My dad was a walker -- of course during the Depression he didn't always have the six cents to ride the streetcar," Engleman added, his craggy face breaking into a smile.

The Payson Ranger Station, at 1009 E. Highway 260, has free maps of the 54-mile Highline and other area trails, and hiking guides for sale. It is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays.

Engleman, an experienced hiker, said his favorite thing to do is just head out in the wilderness. Sometimes he carries his GPS, sometimes he does not.

"I have a very good memory for hikes," he said, fidgeting in his chair as though he is ready to hit the trail.

The railroad tunnel, the infamous, misconceived engineering project of 1883 is easy to find, according to Engleman.

There are two ways to get to the mouth of the 20-foot high, 16-feet wide tunnel.

The long way starts on the Colonel Devlin Trail that runs off the Highline in Washington Park about seven miles away. It follows the sometime visible water pipe.

Engleman rattles off directions that start with "Drive out to Forest Road 300 ..." to hike the shorter route. (Payson Roundup outdoors writer Monte McCord gives detailed directions to the tunnel in his June 9, 2006 article "heading toward a tunnel to nowhere.")

Engleman has been hiking the Rim Country for nearly 17 years and before that he was a National Park ranger in Utah and owned a KOA campground.


Jerry Hassemer, Ray Kinsman and Dave Engleman check out the matates once used for grinding corn just south of the Spanish Ruins at the end of Doll Baby Ranch Road in the Mazatzal Wilderness. The Rim Country Museum of Archeology on Main Street has reference materials on who exactly ground the corn and whether or not the ruins are actually Spanish. "The Spanish probably never came this far North," Engleman said. The ruins date back the late 1800s and look like a large corral made with rock walls. There is a doorway in the southeast corner that faces east. Five feet or so away from that doorway is a wall that could have been used to direct animals (horses or sheep) to veer right.

"My first hike with the Packers was Sept. 25, 1990," he said. "We hiked to Pivot Rock on the Mogollon Rim."

By 1991, he was leading the Packers. More people came to see the beauty of the Rim Country and eventually there were about 50 people on the trail behind him. The hikes became unwieldy and groups splintered into several others.

"We run into numerous archaeological sites when we hike," Engleman said.

The last hike Engleman's group took was to SV Tank Hike. "But that doesn't mean anything to a nonhiker," he said. "It was a hike near Highway 188 that leads to a large old Native American site that overlooks Rye Creek."

He has also led hikers to climb Black Mountain from Gisela Road. "We climb up then walk six miles around the plateau and I explain that the mountain does have gold and platinum in it, and there is a large Indian ruin at the top -- a lookout to the ruins in the Deer Creek and Rye Creek areas to the south."

Pueblo Canyon, near Cherry Creek as it runs towards the small town of Young, is Engleman's favorite hike.

"It is one of the most interesting hikes with seven historic two-story Indian dwellings and a natural waterfall," he said.

A popular trail south of Payson leads to another waterfall.

"At least once a year or every other year we head up the Barnhardt Trail into the Mazatzal Mountains to a lovely waterfall that can best be seen in early March after snow melt. The hike is about 7 miles round trip."

For a beautiful view not far south of town Engleman recommends a hike that begins at milepost 247 on the East side of the Beeline. "The red rock outcropping known as Table Top provides hikers beautiful scenery," he said.

A hiking checklist

A hiking checklist from the American Red Cross.

What you take will depend on where you are going and how long you plan to be away, but any backpack should include the following:

  • Candle and matches
  • Cell phone
  • Clothing (always bring something warm, extra socks and rain gear)
  • Compass
  • First aid kit
  • Food (bring extra)
  • Flashlight
  • Foil (to use as a cup or signaling device)
  • Hat
  • Insect repellent
  • Map
  • Nylon filament
  • Pocketknife
  • Pocket mirror (to use as a signaling device)
  • Prescription glasses (an extra pair)
  • Prescription medications for ongoing medical conditions
  • Radio with batteries
  • Space blanket or a piece of plastic (to use for warmth or shelter)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Trash bag (makes an adequate poncho)
  • Water
  • Waterproof matches or matches in a waterproof tin
  • Water purification tablets
  • Whistle (to scare off animals or to use as a signaling device)

Join the Packers

The Payson Packers have several groups of hikers. Dave Engleman, Dusty Miller, Hal Baas and Diane Ruman lead three of the groups.

They meet at the south end of the parking lot near Sears on Tuesday mornings, rain or shine. Each group meets at a different time.

Consider your health, your age and how accustomed you are to altitude. Mogollon Rim hikes are at 7,500 feet above sea level.

For more information, contact Dave Engleman at (928) 474-3040 or e-mail aacs1918@msn.com.

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