Hike | Lower Salt River Nature Trail | Salt River



Enjoy an easy and relaxing walk along the Salt River perfect for all ages, including pets!


  • Distance: 2.5 Miles RT
  • Type of Trail: Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid Friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Fee/Permit: $8 Tonto National Forest Pass (Daily Pass)


The Lower Salt River Nature Trail begins at Phon D. Sutton Recreation Site which is off N Bush Highway down Phon D. Sutton Road. After the short drive down Phon D. Sutton Road you will come across a big parking lot to your left. The lot is spacious and has plenty of spots along with two picnic ramadas that provide seating and shade for those pre or post hiking meals.

The trail begins at the west end of the parking lot. Keep in mind that this trail is old and not really maintained. The markers along the trail provide direction but can sometimes be hard to miss or interpret. Don’t worry, though you may find yourself off course occasionally there are enough pathways from the standard loop route to get your back on track.

The first half of the trail is covered by Verde trees and other beautiful vegetation, and during this time of year the cacti are in full bloom. It’s a peaceful and easy walk. Take the time to explore the area and keep an eye out for wild horses. I found myself about a mile in when I came across 6-8 wild horses relaxing among the trees. It was a magical sight! Of course, keep a safe distance and be respectful of their space.

The second half of the loop brings you back to the trailhead. It is uncovered so be sure to bring ample supply of water and sunscreen. In addition, the walk back gives you open views of blooming cacti and nearby mountain ranges.

If you are looking to explore the surrounding area more or want to cool down make note that directly below the parking lot is a recreational spot where I saw individuals play in the water, relax with their coolers or port in and out of the water in their kayaks.

This isn't an intense hike but more of a scenic walk - perfect for those looking for a quick and easy trail or a slower change of pace.




  • Pass is required. You can find a list of retail vendors online.   
  • There is plenty of parking spaces, but the lot can get full during recreational peak times.  
  • There are many wild horses in the area. It's a magical sight, but please be respectful of their boundaries. Injuring them or yourselves isn’t worth a photo.


This blog was thoughtfully written by Vicki Ferguson. You can find her on Instagram at @vickidiazferguson.

* Please remember to hike at your own risk. To learn more please refer to our Hiking Disclaimer