Horton Creek is one of my favorite hikes in Arizona and probably the one I have hiked the most times out of any trails other than the local mountains by my house. Backpacking Horton Creek was my brothers first backpacking trip.
This trail shows pieces of Arizona that you wouldn’t think existed in this dry state. When someone asks me where the best day hike is, this is where I direct them.
Getting to the trailhead
Horton Creek trail is somewhat flat, and I would say a very easy hike. It is short and beautiful the whole way. It is only about 6.5 to 7 miles round trip from the parking lot to the spring, and back to the parking lot.
Because it is such a short and simple hike it makes the trail perfect for backpacking in the summer months for single or over night trips, and of course you can always go longer. There are several dispersed campsites all along the trail that have been previously built up by Boy Scout campers that frequent this area.
I backpacked this trail once with my brother nearing the end of the colder seasons. We went out for the one night and really underestimated the night time temperatures.
The campsite for the night
We woke up several times freezing our butts off in our hammocks and had to get up and stoke a fire for a little bit to warm up. It was still a great time and was the first backpacking trip for my brother.
We hiked in a few miles and then we had a little mishap crossing the creek on a small janky log bridge. The bridge broke and my brother fell in the water as we were crossing. The water was still cold so I felt bad for him.
I was able to help get him out though and we picked the nearest campsite to us so we could get him out of his wet clothes and shoes, and get them drying so he wouldn’t be hiking out in wet clothes.
My brother and I found a spot and made a fire to warm him up and then made some food with our jet boil. I’m a fan of the dry meals personally, and he seemed to love them too. We also brought along a little whiskey and that helped to warm him up short term until the fire warmed and dried him.
Even with the falling in the water my brother and I still had a great time. He talks about going backpacking still and i’m glad I could share this awesome place with him in a one night backpacking trip. I’m proud of him for sticking through the night even after his little mishap.
I stand by my first paragraph, if someone was to ask me my favorite day hike in Arizona, I would always say Horton Creek! It also makes for a great overnight backpacking and camping trip. I hope you get to go out and explore this beauty for your self! Happy trails!
“Rivers flow not past, but through us.” – John Muir