Waterfall Trail at Tonto Natural Bridge Park
Salutations, hiking enthusiasts! It has been getting a lot warmer lately here in Phoenix, especially this past weekend when it hit at least 90˚F again. So I thought it would be nice to go a little bit north of Phoenix to enjoy the slightly cooler weather for a little while longer. This week we go check out the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. It’s about a 2-hour drive north of Phoenix, located in the Tonto National Forest. The forest itself is the largest forest in Arizona, with a lot of natural attractions to see. The important thing to note that there is an entrance fee to the park, at $7.00 for adults and $4.00 for youths under 13. There are several parking lots in the area, located at the entrances to each trailhead. At the Tonto Natural Bridge there are four trails to hike; we decided to walk the Waterfall Trail.
Although it does get steep and challenging, the trail takes the average hiker about 15-20 minutes to complete. What makes this trail worth it is the namesake, the waterfall cave at the end of the trail. It’s a massive, beautiful structure, with small pools and an open end, and sprinkles of water falling from the cracks in the cave ceiling. It also provides a nice amount of shade and cooling respite for hikers in the summer heat. You can walk along the ledges on the side of the cave and get to the top of the natural bridge for which it is named.
The quickest way to get to the park is to get on the I-17 and head north, which, on early mornings on weekends is a nice tranquil drive through which you can see the Arizona desert turn into forests. Since the travel time is quite long, I recommend going in the early morning and making it a day trip. This way you can check out some other local attractions, like the Tonto Lodge. Until next time, Happy Hiking!