Lisa Altomare at Horton Creek

AZ Utopia

Written by Mare Czinar Category: Citizen Hiker (hiking blog) Issue: March 2018
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trail walkers at Horton

Hiking has always been an important part of life for Lisa Altomare. “I’m forever grateful that ‘family vacation’ meant getting outside, camping and hiking when I was a kid. So I’ve been hiking for as long as I can remember,” the Anthem-based digital designer says.  

Having grown up on the East Coast, Altomare found the transition from coastal green forests and rolling hills to the rugged and varied terrain of Arizona so inspiring that she decided to launch a hiking blog, AZ Utopia. “I found myself always fumbling through stacks of wonderful, but limited, hiking books and numerous state and national websites before landing on a new trail to explore,” Altomare says. “I thought other hikers might feel similarly, so [I] decided to launch the site. It’s served as a great
impetus for me to check out trails all over Arizona and share my experience hiking them.”

Like many bloggers, Altomare encourages others to share their personal trail experiences. “One of the things I love most about recording and sharing hikes is that it forces a deeper awareness of the experience. It’s nice to slow down a bit and really pay attention to a trail: its twists and turns, unique characteristics... and words that most describe it.”

One of Altomare’s favorite go-to trails is the Horton Creek/Horton Spring Trail north of Payson. “It’s a wonderful escape with its shaded, easy pathway, alongside babbling Horton Creek. The trail ends at a chilly, cascading spring. During spring and summer the area is plush with moss, ferns and bright yellow Columbines. Pretty sweet!”

one of the region’s Columbine flowers in bloomIF YOU GO
Horton Creek Trail #285
LENGTH: 8 miles roundtrip (to Horton Spring and back)
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 5,360-6,420 feet
GETTING THERE: From the intersection of State Routes 87 and 60 in Payson, go 17 miles east (go right) on SR260 to Tonto Creek Road (aka Fish Hatchery Road and FR 289) on the left near milepost 268. Follow FR 289 for 1 mile, cross the creek bridge and park in the Horton Picnic Site lot to the left. Roads are paved all the way. To find the trailhead, hike back down the road, cross the bridge and turn left onto a dirt road. Hike the road a few yards to the sign for trail #285.
NEXT MONTH: A hiking lifer gets back on the trail after double knee-replacement surgeries.