With two rivers, four lakes, 2,600 miles of roads and more than 900 trails contained in five ecosystems, the Tonto National Forest is a never-ending playground.
From the Mogollon Rim to the Salt River Canyon and the Superstition Wilderness Area in-between, there is always something to do or somewhere to explore. The only thing you need is a map.
However, in the past, a definitive map was unavailable. If you did not own your own GPS device or have a knowledgeable guide, it could be hard to find your way around this massive 3-million-acre forest.
Recently, National Geographic published four Trails Illustrated maps that cover almost every quadrant around Payson, all the way south to Phoenix and east to Globe, making it easier to both navigate and discover new areas off the beaten path.
Map details helps hikers, bikers
“This is big news, especially in light of the economy,” said Mick Wolf, owner of Hike, Bike & Run and Rim Country Touring.
“With all the budget cuts, business closures and controversy surrounding the state of our local economy, these new Trails Illustrated maps are a blessing for anyone looking to get out and explore Payson’s Rim Country. These maps will especially help local tourism, as they will provide out-of-towners with great information on trails and outdoor recreation.”
Mick recently received his first shipment of maps and said he is excited to use the maps himself to take his family out on new adventures.
Although Wolf is an experienced adventurer, he admitted it was difficult to get accurate trail information that was also reader-friendly on the area before these maps were published.
The U.S. Forest Service offers a map on the Tonto National Forest, but it has limited detail on Forest Road 300, for example.
The new maps are broken down into four sections. One map covers Hellsgate, Salome and the Sierra Ancha Wilderness, another the Mazatzal and Pine Mountain Wilderness areas, another the Salt River Canyon and the last, the Superstition and Four Peaks Wilderness Areas.
Wolf explained Trails Illustrated maps are like the bible for an area, covering trails, wildlife areas, public facilities and fee areas, motorized and equestrian trails, state parks and ranger districts.
For this reason, anytime Wolf arrives in a new area, he always stops in the nearest outdoor adventure store, picks up a local Trails Illustrated map and plans his trip around it.
In Utah, there are 24 Trails Illustrated maps and in Colorado, 48. Before the recent Tonto maps, there were only seven Trails Illustrated maps in Arizona.
Four new maps
“These four new maps are unprecedented in Arizona,” Wolf said. “The only other Trails Illustrated maps available for Arizona cover the Grand Canyon, Saguaro National Park, Organ Pipe National Monument and the Glen Canyon Recreation Area.”
The Rim Country is lucky to be the first region covered by National Geographic in Arizona, he added.
Last week, Wolf talked with a National Geographic representative on the phone that explained they are working on similar maps for the Prescott, Sedona and Flagstaff area, which should be available later this year.
“National Geographic also has their sites on northern Arizona, so more maps will be in the works for Arizona,” Wolf said.
Trails Illustrated maps show topographical detail and are printed on pre-folded, waterproof and tear-resistant paper. Maps are printed in the U.S. using durable and environmentally friendly low V.O.C. inks.
For more information, go to www. natgeomaps.com/trailsillustrated.
This link will take you to a map of the USA that portrays all the Trails Illustrated maps available in each state. Click on the Arizona link to view the maps available for our state.
The maps retail for around $12 and are available at Hike, Bike & Run, 600 East Highway 260, suite 3.