March 30, 2012
Elevation Gain: 1800 feet
Distance: 8 miles roundtrip (7 miles from the waterfall)
Hike Duration: 4 to 5 hours
To Get There: From Payson, follow State Highway 87 south to FR 419 turnoff. Road ends at the trailhead and three trails begin there, look for sign marking Barnhardt trail. You will know you’re on the right trail if you have to pass through a gate after a short distance.
Notes: Steep narrow trail NOT recommended for younger children or the physically impaired. Not recommended for hotter months of the year. The trail can be treacherous if covered with snow and ice in the winter months.
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Stepping out of my Jeep, at the parking area at the beginning of the Barnhardt trailhead, I shield my eyes from the bright morning sunlight five miles up a rutted dirt road, leading up from Highway 87. Cactus and stands of juniper crowd together on the mesa, jockeying for space in the rocky soil beneath a hazy, blue sky. My companions, all members of the Payson Packers, have been here before, but we keep coming back because we know this four-mile trail never disappoints.