Picket Post Trail

Tonto National Forest

November 21st, 2020

Distance: 5 mile out & back

Dog Friendly: Yes, but at a certain point it would be difficult to have a dog.

Fee: No.

Restrooms at trailhead: Yes.


From wherever you are in the the Phoenix-metro valley, the US 60 East is the only highway leading to the trail head. Those coming from the Tucson and southern Arizona can catch the 60 East from State Route 79. On the way from Phoenix you’ll see the beautiful Superstition Mountains and Wilderness. The exit off the highway comes up quick and is Uno Trail. The signs are clear on which way Picketpost Trailhead is. The trail shares part of the Arizona Trail that stretches from the Arizona-Mexico border all the way up to the Arizona-Utah border. The area is Federal land part of the Tonto National Forest. You’ll see the parking lot with space for horse trailers and many cars with bike carriers all centered around a restroom. In most apps you can type in Picketpost and the trail will come up.


This hike was harder than we thought it would be. We read the reviews on AllTrails. People said it was hard, but we didn’t think it would be THIS hard. We think the level of this hike is in-between Camelback-Echo Canyon and Browns Peak in the Four Peaks Wilderness. We parked at the trailhead lot. The parking lot was pretty full and we got there at 9:30 AM. We didn’t get a spot, but we parked on the side behind another car. This trail is apart of the Arizona Trail, but then you head to the summit of Picket Post and are no longer on the Arizona Trail. We always download the map from AllTrails on our phones in case we don’t have service. This helped us with this trail because we accidentally went the wrong way at first. The trail will come to a Y shape and you should head to the right. There is a sign that points to the right, but we didn’t think it was very clear. We accidentally went to the left and then realized we went the wrong way once we looked at the map on our phones. About .5 miles in you will come across another sign. This is when you head to the left and leave the Arizona Trail and head towards Picket Post Summit. Once you leave the Arizona Trail is where you start to have steady incline.

About 1.4 miles in it gets rocky and you start to scramble. Some parts are better than others. There is no clear path, but there are red and white arrows that we tried to follow. We never felt like if we fell we would fall to our deaths (like Browns Peak), but this is a tough hike. There are parts where you are scaling rocks. We would recommend this hike to avid hikers only. Once you get near the top it does flatten out. I personally thought this was the longest part. At this point I just wanted to get to the top, but you still have .5 miles to go after you are done rock climbing! This is a full body workout. We were both pretty sore after this hike. There is a mailbox at the top of the mountain. A lot of people have left letters and various things inside the mailbox. We put our AZ Hikeaholics stickers in the box. This hike was a lot of fun, but definitely is for more experienced hikers. This hike wasn’t super busy. A lot of the people parked there were doing other things. It seemed like the area is popular for mountain biking and horseback riding. There are also a ton of other trails in the area too!


  • Wear proper hiking shoes. I wore my new Oboz shoes that are good for rough terrain. So they were perfect for this hike.
  • Bring PLENTY of water. Owen brought 3 Liters and I brought 2.5 Liters. We both finished our water by the time we got to the bottom of the mountain.
  • Wearing pants might make this hike easier for you. Owen wore shorts, but I was happy I wore pants climbing over the rocks.
  • Bring snacks. We ate our snacks at the top.
  • Take your time and be careful! This hike can be scary at times. Know your limits.
  • And please Leave No Trace.

When the scramble starts!
Going back down is fun too!

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