Continue north on F.R. 137. The trail remains fairly easy as it continues to drop. Continue to ignore numerous side roads on right. At 9.9 miles, make an important left turn onto F.R. 96. You are now heading west. Continue straight at 12.5 where F.R. 321 joins from left. At 12.7 miles, the trail makes a rather rapid drop into Barbershop Canyon. This portion of the trail is exceptionally scenic and you reach the bottom and cross Barbershop Creek at 14.4 miles. A paved parking area sits off to the right just before the stop sign. There are some pretty interesting rock formations on either side of the canyon wall.
Turn left at the stop sign at 14.5 miles onto F.R. 95. To the right, is the optional exit/entrance route that leads to Highway 87. The road begins to climb after leaving Barbershop Canyon. The road winds as it heads south. At 19.0 miles, F.R. 139A on the left leads to historic Pinchot Cabin, which is a short drive and hike off the main road. Return to 95.
F.R. 95 makes several tight turns after Pinchot Cabin. The trail remains fairly uneventful as it heads south all the way back to F.R. 300. Cabin Loop Trail ends at 26.3 miles at the junction of F.R. 95 and F.R. 300. Depending on your destination and where you came from, to the right, Rim Road (F.R. 300) returns 12.2 miles to Payson past General Springs Cabin. To the left, Rim Road continues an additional 30.8 miles back to Highway 260 past several other great trails and along the Mogollon Rim.
Summary/Trail Ratings: Route finding on this trail can be challenging. There are numerous forest roads that split off from the trail (it is easiest to remember 300-137-96-95 as the roads that make up this trail). It is best to refer to the Google Earth tracks and/or carry a USFS map when out on the trail. This 26 mile loop should take about 1-2 hours to complete. There are numerous side trips and additional roads to explore to add time. Allow for a full day when combined with Rim Road. This trail is slightly rougher than Rim Road and a high clearance vehicle is recommended. We’ve rated this trail a ‘3.5’ out of ‘10’ for the occasional rocky sections, tight turns, and sharp drop offs.
Inspired by the Cabin Loop hiking trail, this driving route connects multiple historic cabins north of the Mogollon Rim. This trail begins and ends on Rim Road but an optional exit route on the north takes you past Blue Ridge Reservoir to Highway 87.
Page last updated: 11/23/2016
Status: Open / snow possible
Trail Type: Loop
Length: 26 miles roundtrip
Approx. time: 1-2 hours
Current Info: Tonto N.F./Payson District (928) 474-7900
Elevation: 7261' - 7954'
Nearest City: Payson
Best Time: Spring-Fall
How to get there: This trail is described in a counterclockwise loop beginning and ending along F.R. 300 (Rim Road). Please see the Google Earth Tracks to view on a map. We are starting at the furthest point from Highway 87 that way you don’t miss any of the Rim Road, even though you drive a short section of it twice when completeing the trail. The trail begins at the intersection of F.R. 300 and F.R. 137 and ends at the intersection of F.R. 300 and F.R. 95. Assuming you are heading west to east, you’ll need to complete 20.2 miles of the easy Rim Road/F.R. 300 to get to the start of the trail. If you are coming from Highway 260, you will need to complete 19.8 miles to get to the same start point.
The trail: From the intersection of F.R. 300 and F.R. 137, head north on 137. The road becomes rougher and narrower as it heads downhill. Ignore lesser road on right at 1.0 mile mark. Small road off to the right just before 3.7 miles leads to Buck Springs Cabin. Buck Springs consists of two cabins built in the early to mid 1900s and are still used by the Forest Service. Return to 137 when done.