basking in nature at Barnhardt Trailhead; Photo courtesy Donna Gray

#KamoLyfe on the Barnhardt Trail

Written by Mare Czinar Category: Citizen Hiker (hiking blog) Issue: January 2018
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Share your Arizona trail adventures on our monthly hiking page. This month: #KamoLyfe

Share your Arizona trail adventures on our monthly hiking page. This month: #KamoLyfe

Gray (far left) and friends strike a #HikingAngel poseOn her flight from Philadelphia while relocating to the Valley in 2016, Donna F. Gray was intrigued by the desert terrain and craggy mountains visible from her window seat. This first glimpse inspired the self-described tomboy with a lifelong love of outdoor recreation to get to know her new home through hiking.

“Moving across the country alone and faced with hours of free time, I began focusing on increasing my physical activity,” says the Chandler auto insurance professional. “After my first hike, not only did I realize how great my body felt physically, I felt the spiritual cleansing of my mind and soul. Hiking is a metaphor for life: Life presents challenges every day. You can choose to give up...or you can keep pushing and setting goals to achieve a level of greatness.”

Gray began making hiking buddies and had camouflage shirts made for her crew that branded their esprit de corps. “That first hike wearing matching shirts is when we did our first #HikingAngel pose and we’ve been doing it ever since,” she says. “Our goal is to finish each trail as a family and being safe... #KamoLyfe represents the bond we developed on the mountain, with our diverse backgrounds woven together like a camouflage fabric.”

Gray with hiking palsFor a challenge that burns and inspires, Gray recommends the Barnhardt Trail in the Mazatzal Mountains south of Payson. The canyon-bound, difficult route climbs 1,300 feet through bizarre landforms and raging waterfalls. It’s 3.5 miles to a waterfall grotto – a good turnaround point for a day hike.

IF YOU GO:

BARNHARDT TRAIL
LENGTH: 6.5 miles roundtrip (to the big falls and back); 5.9 miles one-way for entire trail.
RATING: Moderate
ELEVATION: 4,210’-5,580’
GETTING THERE: From Shea Blvd. and State Route 87 (Beeline Hwy) in Fountain Hills, travel 51 miles north on SR 87 to Forest Road 419, located just beyond the sign for Barnhardt Trailhead and roughly 0.25 mile south of the town of Gisela. Turn left and go 4.8 miles on FR 419 to the trailhead. Although sedans are frequently sighted at the trailhead, FR 419 is a rutted one-lane track and a high clearance vehicle is recommended.
INFO: Payson Ranger District, Tonto National Forest fs.usda.gov/recarea/tonto/recreation/hiking/

NEXT MONTH:
A Valley couple falls in love with hiking – and each other.