A September 2005 trip
to Payson by ActSpacey
Quote: We spent a week in Payson through a timeshare exchange at Kohl Ranch Lodge as a starting point for a relaxing Arizona retreat. We got just what we were looking for, with great hiking experiences and a pleasant stay at the relaxed resort.
Hotel | "Kohl's Ranch Lodge"
We used the resort as a home base as we hit the area hiking trails, but we also took advantage of the horseback riding. The trail rides were somewhat limited, but the wranglers were great.
I took advantage of the resort’s library (in a loft above the lobby) and enjoyed tickling the ivory on the grand piano.
Though we cooked most meals in our units, we took advantage of the barbeque grills one night, when they had a campfire and music, and it was a nice, relaxing evening. They had karaoke each night in the bar, which we attended one night (live music was advertised for that evening, but it never materialized). Since the bar primarily caters to guests, it was a fun, friendly atmosphere.
The Jacuzzi in the evenings (when the temperatures dropped) was a great place to meet other guests and trade advice on places to see and things to do in the area.
We stayed in a Canyon Creek unit, which looked a bit like a trailer from the outside, but once inside it was quite nice. We had a two-bedroom. The unit has a nice-sized living room/dining room. The kitchen was spacious and well stocked for cooking.
The bedrooms were also spacious and each had their own separate bathrooms. The bathrooms were stocked with Sedona Spa shampoo, conditioner, soaps, and lotions.
The Lodge staff stopped by daily to provide fresh towels and any other supplies needed. They were always friendly and helpful.
Tonto Creek runs past the unit, and there is a fitness trail along it. We walked along the creek and found some nice secluded spots to enjoy a book and the sound of the running water.
The resort also has a day spa and fitness center, but I did not use these facilities.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 12, 2005
Kohls Ranch Lodge
EAST HIGHWAY 260
Payson, Arizona 85541
We hiked this trail in early September and saw very few people. The trail stays near the water most of the way, with a few moderate climbs. The lake itself is very picturesque. There are lots of birds to enjoy and you'll even see the occasional fish jump out of the water.
The lake is irregularly shaped, which provides for a longer hike than you may expect when you first view the lake (we started the hike without knowing the distance - never a good idea!).
There is a magically serene spot that is well worth every effort, however, where the trail crosses near the marsh at an inlet to the lake. This spot was one of the most beautiful spots I saw during my entire stay in Payson. See my pictures from this hike!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 12, 2005
Woods Canyon Lake
Just past Milepost 282
Attraction | "Mogollon Rim Trail at Sunset"
This is a great spot for views of surrounding mountains and forests. The sunset was a nice touch to round out the hike.
This terrain is paved to offer accessibility and so is a good choice for non-hikers looking to enjoy the view. Since it runs parallel to the road, it is not a good choice for those looking for a backcountry hike, but the views are great.
Attraction | "Horton Creek Trail"
The various waterfalls are well worth the climb. The water is ice-cold, even in late August, and we took great pleasure in dunking our hats in the water to cool ourselves off.
We saw many butterflies and lizards (see the I-Spy photos) as well.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 12, 2005
Attraction | "Plant Life in Tonto National Forest"
I learned from my traveling companion that Ponderosa pines have a variety of scents, and she couldn't resist "sniffing" every Ponderosa Pine she could find to find new flavors. We encountered both chocolate and vanilla in various hikes.
Tonto National Forest
Near Phoenix, the Mogollon Rim, and the San Carlos and Fort Apache Indian reservations
When we arrived at the stables, the wranglers explained that due to a scheduling problem, the trailer that normally is used to bring the horses to the area where the half-day rides are done was not available. They offered us the option of deferring to the next day or taking an extended trail ride on the trails used for the shorter rides.
The wrangler explained that the trails on-site were too short to ride for the half-day without repeating sections. We agreed to the abbreviated tour. And we weren't sorry.
Our wrangler was friendly and kept up conversation on history and information about the terrain. We hiked up through the woods at a leisurely pace. Since we were taking an extended ride, he gave us a break at a nice watering hole where we had a snack and cooled our feet in the water.
The horses were well cared for and the wranglers experienced and friendly. I understand the location where the half-day rides are located is not wooded and so may not have been a pleasant as our shady ride ended up. It was a hot day at the end of August, so the shade was definitely a plus.
If I visit again, I'll probably check out the half-day ride, but will probably also do the shorter ride, since the scenery there was nice, too.
Trail Ride at Kohl's Ranch Lodge
E. Hwy. 260
Payson, Arizona 85541
The bridge itself is a sight to behold, and there are many trails that bring you in and around it.
On our next trip to the area (which there will be!), I will definitely plan to spend a day at this park to explore the trails. If you only have and hour to spare (as we did), take the Waterfall trail! This trail takes you down uneven steps to an oasis in the midst of the surrounding desert. This is definitely a must-see spot!
Tonto Natural Bridge
Off of Highway 87