Highline Trail Restoration Initiative

The NFF and community partners initiated the Highline Trail Restoration Initiative to restore an iconic National Recreation Trail for the enjoyment of all, for the long-term sustainability of the trail itself, and to protect the surrounding watershed landscape.

The Highline Trail Restoration Initiative will ensure:

View for Miles

The trail traverses more than 50 scenic miles of open vistas through brushy hills of Manzanita and stands of Ponderosa Pine just below the Mogollon Rim, a steep escarpment defining the southwestern ridge of the Colorado Plateau.

Water for Communities

This initiative aims to slow and prevent erosion downstream and improve watershed health and water quality in the Salt River system.

Trails for All

Our goal is to provide an upgraded and improved non-motorized trail that is safer for hikers, bikers, and equestrian riders looking to connect to the wild outdoors and appreciate the natural world through outdoor recreation.

Background

The Highline Trail is an historic route that was cut in the late 1800s and believed to be used as a travel corridor to connect homesteads and communities around the towns of Payson and Pine. The 51-mile route began to lose its day-to day use value when the Civilian Conservation Corps built Forest Road 64 in the 1930s. This posh-by-comparison road provided an alternative to the precariously situated dirt trail that—to this day—traverses fall lines and drainages. No longer needed to run cattle and wagons, the trail was repurposed into a recreation destination and designated as the Highline National Recreation Trail in 1978, also sharing 17 miles with the Arizona National Scenic Trail.

A National Recreation Trail designation is an honor given to existing trails that connect people to local resources and improve their quality of life. The Highline Trail is now an iconic destination spot, cool in Arizona’s hot summers, and a busy recreation area year-round.

Protecting a Community Resource

Today many sections of the 50-mile trail are losing tread and significantly eroded. Conditions have been further exacerbated by several fires in recent years, resulting in many sections of trail requiring heavy maintenance or even reroutes. The NFF is working with the Forest Service and community partners on Phase 1—to improve access and sustainability from Washington Park to Pine trailheads—and to secure additional funding needed, generate excitement, and get more people outside!

Appreciating the Power of Partnerships!

The Highline Trail Restoration Initiative is made possible through a committed and diverse partner network. From funding for trail maintenance, to volunteer events and education, celebrating the power of partnerships on our public lands illustrates how priority work is accomplished in real time!

Wondering how you can get involved with the Highline Initiative?

  • We can always use some extra hands and boots/tools on the ground. Below is a calendar of ongoing volunteer opportunities being facilitated by the initiative partners.

Photos by Arizona Trail Association, Flagstaff Trails LLC, and Cassandra and Matthew Roberts

Contact

Rebecca Davidson, Southwestern Regional Director and Youth Programs Director, at 720.749.9008 or rdavidson@nationalforests.org