If you’re looking to cool off from the heat or catch some late fall colors then See Spring just may be the trail for you! It is a very picturesque hike in the Mogollon Rim country and the best part is it is short and sweet.
This easy trail in Payson is perfect for families and dogs looking to enjoy the fresh air. The higher elevation provides shade, cooler temperatures, and relaxing sounds of running water.
In this guide we’ll cover the difference between See Canyon and See Spring, how to get there, the best time to go, and everything in-between!
See Spring Trail Stats
- Hiking Distance | 2.4 miles RT
- Difficulty | Easy
- Elevation Gain | 551 feet
- Total Time | 1-2 hours
- Permits/Fees | None
- Trailhead | See Canyon Trailhead
- Road Conditions | dirt and a bit bumpy, 2WD okay
- Dog Friendly | Yes
Below is a map of See Canyon 184 and See Spring 185 trails.
The trails both begin at the See Canyon Trailhead and turn right at the first junction. See Spring 185 veers off the the right at the next intersection, creating the right portion of the Y. It eventually dead ends at See Spring.
See Canyon 184 continues straight/left and follows along Christopher creek, connecting all the way to Rim Road 300 at the top of the Mogollon Rim. This portion is 3 miles long, totaling 6 miles round trip, and becomes more strenuous.
The purpose of this guide is to visit See Spring and the above stats reflect the portion of See Canyon Trail to See Spring Trail and back. During fall season the best colors are along the See Spring Trail!
Getting To See Canyon Trailhead
The trailhead is very easy to find and access! You can input the name to your GPS and it will lead you right to it or follow the directions below.
From Payson take highway 260 east. About 20 miles down the highway you’ll see Christopher Creek Campground on the right side of the road. If you pass this campground you’ve gone too far because directly on the other side of the highway from the campground is a dirt road named Christopher Creek Loop, and you’ll want to turn left onto it.
This dirt road leads you all the way to the trailhead! It is a little steep at parts and bumpy but 2WD will do just fine in normal conditions if you go slow. I saw sedans make it without any issues!
If the road is muddy or snow packed it may be impassible.
When To Hike See Spring Trail
Summer and fall are absolutely the most beautiful seasons for hiking around the Mogollon Rim area! The temperatures can still get hot during summer but if you do this short trail in the early morning or later evening you can miss the worst part of the day.
Fall was beyond stunning! The colors actually turn more towards the end of October and well into November. I visited the first weekend of November so the images in this guide show how late in the season the leaves fall.
The See Canyon Trailhead can get packed at times, but when I visited midday on a Saturday I had no problem finding parking. I think it helps that the trail is short and can be a quick turnaround!
Looking for other fall trails? Check out Hiking The Aspen Nature Loop In Flagstaff
Hiking See Spring Trail
From the parking lot the See Canyon Trailhead is very easy to spot. Once you hop on the trail it begins by leading you under extremely tall Ponderosa Pines which takes me back to hiking in Flagstaff.
The tall pines don’t last for long before you dip down and cross Christopher Creek. You’ll have to utilize the larger rocks to cross if you don’t want to get your feet wet because there isn’t a bridge. Luckily it isn’t too wide of a creek (pictured below!).
Once on the other side of Christopher Creek there will be a sign pointing you in the direction of See Canyon and See Spring. Turn left at this intersection and continue along See Canyon Trail.
The trail follows along Christopher Creek providing a few opportunities to meander down to the water and get some surprising views. I couldn’t get enough of the fall colors hanging over the rushing water! I kept asking myself if this was really Arizona? This area is definitely fall lover’s paradise.
Eventually you’ll hike upon the Y in the trail where you veer right to go up to See Spring. I did hang a left and follow along See Canyon trail for a bit but the trees became more dense and it got darker. There also weren’t as many fall colors as along See Spring Trail.
So, if you are hunting for fall colors I suggest just going to See Spring! Especially because the full See Canyon trail is a 6 mile round trip hike and a bit more strenuous.
Overall the trails are well maintained but there were the occasional fallen logs that you had to climb over. I can only imagine these vary from year to year, but just expect as much. The trail isn’t completely flat, it slightly goes up and down in areas but overall you’re hiking no more than 551 feet in elevation!
It isn’t much further to the end of See Spring. I couldn’t tell you what it looks like because we stopped and turned around a few hundred yards short of the end. It was getting late and we were losing daylight. I felt like I had seen enough, especially after exploring a portion of the canyon side of the trail, so I made the decision to turn back.
I’m glad I did because we were able to hit the road just before dark! The lovely thing about this area is you can hike as far as you’d like before retracing your steps back to the trailhead. The creek and beautiful foliage is enough to fulfill the wanderlust.
Final Thoughts On See Spring Trail
All said and done I’d definitely return to See Spring again next fall! It was better than I was even expecting. The air was cool and it was so silent in the woods you could hear frogs, crickets, and the leaves rustling.
There wasn’t much information online before my visit to tell the difference between See Canyon and See Spring. I may return one day to hike the full See Canyon as well, but I’m glad I turned around when I did because I wasn’t prepared to hike the entire 6 miles. This was my second hike of the day and I would have ran out of daylight!
I hope you’re adding this stunning little hike to your bucket-list. Are you planning your trip for the summer or fall? Share in the comments below!
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