All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) trail riding has grown in the last decade to become an immensely popular sport on the Rim Country recreational scene.
The local popularity is partly due to hundreds of miles of trails around Payson, many of them old logging roads, that provide riders with an up close and personal look at the countryside.
For experienced, seasoned ATV riders, the challenging route into Metate Canyon will test your resolve and the wilderness-worthiness of the 4x4 you're straddling.
The route begins in Star Valley and extends onto the Mayfield Canyon Trail before winding through the ponderosa pine forests to Metate Canyon. Along the way, rest stops can be enjoyed at what once was a Native American village, and another at a decrepit cabin that is rumored to have been the home of a miner, decades ago.
But be prepared, often the route becomes only a wash, wild animal trail or simply an area between trees wide enough to steer your ATV through.
Less adventurous riders might want to explore the many forest service roads and old logging roads that connect to Chevelon Loop Drive atop the Rim. The drive can be accessed off FR 300, which is touted to be one of the most scenic drives in the state. From FR 300, riders should proceed north on FR 115 past the O'Haco Fire Lookout Tower to the junction with FR 225.
The 60-mile loop eventually returns to FR 300.
Another popular area is the Long Draw route, found on the Mogollon Rim northeast of Payson. Located in the Black Mesa Ranger District, it consists of a 30-mile loop trail beginning near Chevelon Crossing at the Long Draw North Trailhead.
The route extends to the Long Draw South Trailhead near Chevelon Lake. Both trailheads have toilets and campsite facilities developed through Arizona State OHV Recreation Fund grants. Along the route, there are many opportunities for side trips on shared use, forest service trails.
In the cold of winter, snowmobilers use the area frequently.
Other popular ATV excursions are trips to Crackerjack Mine and the Verde River, along the Young Trail and through the Dude Fire area.
Stop in at the Payson Ranger District of the Tonto National Forest to learn more about the area's ATV trails, rules and regulations.
Make sure someone knows where you plan to ride and your expected time of return.
Use common sense to make your fun run safe.