Exploring The Mogollon Rim: Rim Lakes Vista Trail Guide

Last weekend I finally had the opportunity to the see Mogollon Rim, which is a really beautiful area near Payson, AZ. It features a 2,000 ft deep canyon filled with trees and wildlife. It’s only 1.5 hours from Phoenix but could not look more different. Living in Scottsdale, I don’t get to see tall trees and lush greenery very often, so it was great to be able to escape the barren desert even just for a day (as much as I love it!).

I did my research before going and decided to hike the Rim Lakes Vista trail. On the advice of others on the All Trails app (this app is a must if you are a hiker), I chose to hike just the portion of the trail that follows the rim and skip the more inland half of the trail. Getting there from Phoenix, I took the 87 North all the way to the 260 East and made my first stop at the Rim Visitor Center.

Mogollon Rim Visitor Center

There was a lookout point here where I snapped some pictures and then got my bearings straight on where the trail actually started. You have to drive across the road from the visitors center to a separate parking lot immediately on the right side of the road. You will see an obvious trailhead, but this is actually for the back side of the trail that I skipped, which is called the General Crook trail. Instead, walk to the other side of the parking lot and you will see a very discreet sign that says “Trail” – this is where you want to go. Follow the path in the grass and you will eventually come to a sign that says “Rim Lakes Vista Trail.”

Rim Lakes Vista Trail

The trail is overgrown is some spots and it can be slightly difficult to follow, but not impossible. There are “trail” signs and cairns along the way, and if you have your All Trails app open you will not get lost! The trail winds through a forest that looks like it has seen better days, if I’m honest, and ultimately brings you to the rim. Despite the unfortunate deforestation, it is still a very nice, serene hike that should not be overlooked. I didn’t see anyone else on the way in, and only came across two mountain bikers on the way out. Peaceful hikes are my absolute favorite.

Mogollon Rim Forest

Once you get to the rim, prepare for your jaw to drop. The view is stunning and you can walk right up to the edge – but be careful, there are a lot of crevices in the rocks near the edge and you could easily fall to your death.

Mogollon Rim View

Rim Lakes Vista Mogollon Rim

Hiking Mogollon Rim

It was a bright and sunny day when I went, and temps were in the 60s, so it was perfect hiking weather. All you need is a light sweater and long pants or leggings and you should be warm enough. If you go in the summer, I would recommend against wearing shorts because there are a lot of prickly shrubs and I did get my pants caught on one. You wouldn’t want to get stabbed in the leg by a plant!

Tree Hugger Hiking Mogollon Rim

I didn’t track it, but I think I hiked around 4 miles. There is very little elevation gain so it is a very easy hike that most people could do without even breaking a sweat. This is a great trail for both beginner and experienced hikers because you get a lot of bang for your buck. If you want to see the Mogollon Rim, this is definitely the spot to go check it out and take it all in without the crowds of people.

Have you hiked the Mogollon Rim? Let me know your trail recommendations in the comments!

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