Rim Road [F.R. 300]
On what might be one of the greatest drives in Arizona, spend 40 miles on this forest road on the edge of the Mogollon Rim. With countless lookouts, camping, and hiking trails, the only thing you’ll run out of is time.
Where to go:
This trail can be done in either direction, but we will be talking about doing it from west to east (Highway 87 to Highway 260). From Payson, head north on Highway 87 as it climbs onto the Rim through Pine and Strawberry. After about 26 miles, turn right onto Rim Road/F.R. 300. If you start on the east end, you’ll take Highway 260 about 29 miles east then turn left onto Rim Road.
From Highway 87, head south on F.R. 300 as it becomes a graded dirt road. Almost immediately, you’ll make an important left turn to stay on 300. The trail begins to climb and remains fairly wide as it winds through the forest. This trail does receive a lot of traffic so always be on the lookout for other vehicles – share the road!
At the 5.5 mile mark, the trail finally makes it to the edge of the Rim. From here on out, you’ll have an incredible view off to your right. The trail zig-zags along the edge of the Rim for quite a while. Countless forest roads branch off to the left – we won’t mention all of them, just the important ones.
At 12.0 miles, you’ll come to a junction with F.R. 705 off to the left. A historical marker signifies the Battle of Big Dry Wash, a battle between U.S. Troops and Apache Indians in 1872. About 0.3 miles up 705, you’ll find General Springs Cabin, one of several old ranger cabins on the Cabin Loop hiking trail. This makes for a nice break spot. Continue east on F.R. 300 when done.
Stay straight at 13.0 miles where F.R. 95 goes left. (F.R. 95 is part of the Cabin Loop Trail, a 26 mile long loop that takes you north past several cabins. Consider combing Rim Road and Cabin Loop Trail while you are here. The other end of the loop is 8.0 miles ahead from this point.) Continue on F.R. 300. The trail continues past incredible scenery and many great overlooks and campsites on the Rim. Stay straight at 20.1 miles where F.R. 137 (other end of the Cabin Loop) goes left.
At around 28.0 miles, the trail crosses underneath a powerline and then enters the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. From this point on, the trail leaves the edge of the Rim and re-enters thick forest for the remainder of the trip. The road passes Horton Springs Trailhead and continues straight past Promontory Butte (F.R. 764) at 30.9 miles. If you want more of a challenge and have some extra time, follow 764 south about 5 miles to the edge of the Rim, where again, great views and campsites await. Continue east on 300.
The trail remains curvy as it passes an old fire tower and abandoned buildings at 31.8 miles. Make an important right turn at 33.9 miles where F.R. 34. The road gets progressively more washboardy and more traveled as you continue past Woods Canyon Lake. The trail officially ends at 40.0 miles where the road becomes pavement. Follow the paved road an additional 3 miles back to Highway 260.
Notes & Trail Ratings:
This is quite a long trail with many additional trails splitting off from it. For strictly the 40 miles of F.R. 300, allow for about 2-4 hours to complete the trail end to end. Consider camping on the Rim and making this a multi-day trip combined with Cabin Loop Trail, Promontory Butte Trail, and even Control Road along the base of the Rim. In terms of difficulty, this is a typical forest road that just about any car can make. High clearance is recommended but not necessary in dry weather. We’ve rated it a ‘2’ out of ‘10’ because it can be intimidating to novice drivers. Because this trail is entirely above 7000’, snow is likely and the trail can become more difficult or even closed during certain times of the year. Always check local conditions before attempting the trail.