So, let’s recap. January has been flippin’ nuts. My brother came home on leave from the Army, Matt and I got engaged, we booked our wedding venue, I attended the bridal expo and bought my dress, I had some dental work done, we bought a new SUV and I announced my BlogPaws Ambassador & Speaker news. After an insanely crazy last week of January, I decided I deserved a day of fun! Since Matt and I just bought a brand new Subaru Forester, we decided to head up north to Payson, AZ for a day of hiking with the pups! Our destination: Monument Peak Loop Trail.
Payson is a quick 90 minutes north of the Phoenix valley. My mom owns a second home up there so we have a wonderful excuse to escape the desert. Payson is much cooler than Phoenix and it bears picturesque scenery, amazing local eateries and a friendly small town feel. The trailheads in Payson are unnumberable but I knew of one just three miles from my mom’s house. That being Monument Peak Loop Trail, I was excited to take the dogs there. The hike was rated “easy” online and looked like a pretty simple loop through the mountains.
The Monument Peak Loop Trail is literally nestled in the mountains. All you can hear is the wind blowing against the trees. All you can see is pine trees, small creeks and the dirt trail in front of you. It was exactly the outdoor, natural feeling I needed after an intense month!
Matt took both McKenzie Rae and Khloee while I lagged behind with Wynston. The girls are pretty quick and Wynston likes to take his sweet time. We weren’t in any rush so I let Wynston sniff what he wanted. After all, walks (especially in new places) are extremely mentally stimulating for dogs. I can’t imagine how many amazing smells there were to discover.
Most of the hike was fairly level. There weren’t many boulders to climb over or maneuver between. The trail was mostly rock and dirt. Matt and I planned for a 3 mile “easy” hike but that’s not what we got at all. The weather in Payson has been warm (around 60°F) so we figured there wouldn’t be any snow on the ground. However, what we didn’t plan for was wet, muddy ground from the snow melting. Some snow was still on the ground in cooler, shaded areas. There were sections of the trail where we had to trek through mud. We weren’t dressed for those conditions at all.
Mud, ice, snow, dirt, water, rocks…we walked through it all. I will admit that it was pretty cool to see so many natural forms of the earth surrounding us on the ground. At times, our nature skills were truly tested. I almost slipped on ice at least five times and I definitely would have face planted in mud more than once if I didn’t have branches to grab onto.
Three mile hike? Not so much. Toward the end Matt and I were discussing the fact that it felt like a lot more than three miles. All of the dogs were troopers. Despite all of the difficult elements we had to face, Wynston was still going strong. I was so proud of him. When we got back to our car, I saw on my phone that we had hiked 4.87 miles. Almost five miles. No wonder it felt so long.
My favorite part of the hike was seeing all of the natural creeks and small waterfalls. I really enjoy being among nature when I can’t hear or see any signs of civilization. The sound of natural running water among wind in the pine trees creates a very serene experience.
On our hike we brought:
- Collapsible bowl
- Reward treats and protein snacks for the dogs
- Phone for photos and map
- First aid kit
Driving Directions From 87 N (Beeline Highway) to Monument Peak Trail:
- From the Highway 87 & Highway 260 intersection, turn right (east) and head 0.3 miles to Granite Dells Road, past Safeway.
- Turn right and head east on Granite Dells Road for 3.3 miles until the open turn‐around area for parking on the east side of Granite Dells Road.
- You will drive on dirt road for about 2 of those miles. The road is narrow and bumpy.
- Parking may be limited or muddy.
The Loop Trail follows the base of Monument Peak, covering territory in southeast Paysonand the western portion of Star Valley. Hikers will pass through juniper thickets interspersed with pleasant open meadows, and a large portion of the trail follows a seasonal stream-bed. There are beautiful views of Monument Peak, especially from the northern portion of the Loop.
At the end of our adventure, there were lots of muddy paws and shoes. It’s a good thing we bought weather mats for the car! I also had the upholstery covered so the dogs haven’t ruined the interior of our new car yet!
Overall, it was a perfect day to hike as a family. We got to do something new and now we know what the Monument Peak trail is all about. I know the mud will dry up, making a majority of the trail much easier to walk through. I would not have rated the hike as “easy” yesterday but once the weather gets warmer, I could see it being a solid trail for beginners, kids and small dogs.