It is not the hardest trail you will ever take, but it could be the most scenic.
The Rim Vista Trail is about 2.5 miles long, with about a mile of it paved. but don’t be fooled by the paved part. The trail, off the Rim Road (Forest Service Road 300), hugs the edge of the Rim, providing views of geological features and mountains to the south and visibility that can stretch for almost 200 miles on a clear day.
The trail is an easy amble from its starting point just off Highway 260.
From Payson, go east on Highway 260. At the top of the Rim, turn left on FS 300 and pull into the first parking lot on the left. You can also access the trail from the second parking area a little over a mile down the road, which splits the trail.
Walking from the first parking lot takes you through a pine forest where you can marvel at the distant views, check out the twisted, wind-shaped trees, or just contemplate nature as a gentle wind blows through your hair.
Despite the nearness of the FS 300, the hike offers an eerie silence. You expect lots of traffic noise, but except for an occasional vehicle passing you on the road above, it is all about you and nature.
The route offers a number of side hikes, such as the Sinkhole Trail, which is rated difficult as it plunges down off the Rim and therefore demands a steep climb back up. The trail connects to parts of the Highline Trail. The Sinkhole Trail drops about 1,000 feet in its 2.3 miles.
The Rim Vista Trail provides constant views from the Mogollon Rim and for sunset watchers and photographers, the trail offers a beautiful setting.
The trail runs along the edge of the cliff that marks the leading edge of the Colorado Plateau, which runs through the middle of Arizona. The trail offers the best access to this stirring view, complete with a wonderful foreground of sandstone outcroppings. Hikers on various Web sites have listed this easy trail as one of the best scenic hikes in Arizona.
The trail offers the respite of several benches, which provide a place to rest and enjoy the surroundings. The trail is handicap-accessible from the second parking lot. If you walk from the first parking lot to the end of the trail and back, expect to spend one to two hours on the trail — depending on how much oohing and ahhing about the scenery you will do.