Location : Barnhardt Trailhead (NOBO Mile Marker 417 )
Weather: Clear skies, starting temperature 69 degrees, Cool to warm throughout the day.
Total Mileage Completed : 10.6 miles on AZT – 10.2 Barnhardt Trail (Approach) Total 20.8 miles.
So….. the Matazals. The scary big mountain range on the west side of Highway 87 as driving to Payson. It was now time to take on the monster. Dayhiking into the Matazals always seems like a unattainable task. To get to the AZT, Tom and I resigned ourselves to the fact the AZT miles would be virtually 1/2 and approach trails would be the only way to do this.
The first and actually easy trailhead we needed to use is the Barnhardt trail. This tame dirt road is off of Highway 87 just before the little town of Rye Arizona. I really liked this approach trail and we used it again on Hike #81 a little later. This time though we used the trail to enter the AZT at Mile Marker 417, turning north only 5 miles up to Rocky Ridge and back. Take note the Barnhardt trail is a 6 mile trail which climbs 2265 feet through a tight canyon with pretty serve dropoffs. It’s an uphill battle but to my surprise, it was not horrible. Once on the AZT the hike up to Rocky Ridge turned a little tough about a mile from the turnaround giving the day a total of 4,408 in climbing. Rocky Ridge though has amazing views and a nice spot for lunch. The hike back as pretty much all downhill. I would actually do this 20 miler again. Easy to get to and a good workout with amazing views.