Tonto Natural Bridge

The views in Strawberry and Pine are definitely one of a kind and should be experienced in full. But just a short drive away from your cabin you will find natural trails and springs and the world’s largest natural travertine bridge that you can hike to or view from the car.

Thousands of years in the making, Tonto Natural Bridge, is 150 feet wide and located between Payson and Pine. The bridge arches 183 feet above the sparkling Pine Creek and is surrounded by pine trees. Upstream, flowing springs and fern-draped grottos line the narrow canyon.

In 1877, a Scottish prospector named David Gowan stumbled upon the bridge while prospecting for gold in the Tonto Rim area. After spending several days exploring the area, he staked a claim to the land. He planted several fruit and nut trees and also maintained tenuous relations with the local American Indian tribe who already called the area home. Gowan died in 1926 and his family members lived near the bridge until 1948. You can see their lodge there as it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1948, Glen L. Randall, a native to Pine, AZ purchased the Tonto Natural Bridge, the lodge and 160 surroundings acres of natural wonder with his father, Walter Randall and a brother. After Glen’s death in 1967, his wife, Eloise, sold the property and it was eventually made into a State Park.

After entering the park, you will find 4 different hiking trails:

  • Pine Creek Trail is about ½ mile long (400 feet developed – undeveloped in the creek bottom), leads to the Pine Creek natural area. Hiking shoes are recommended. Follow the arrows. Allow one hour.
  • Waterfall Trail is about 300 feet long, ends at waterfall cave. Uneven steps. Allow 15–20 minutes.
  • Gowan Trail is about 2,200 feet long, down and back leading to an observation deck in the creek bottom. The trail is steep and rough. No trash cans. Hiking shoes are recommended. Allow one hour.
  • Anna Mae Trail is about 500 feet long and leads to Pine Creek Trail and the Natural Bridge. Allow one hour.

But if you aren’t the hiking type, you can still view the bridge from four different parking lot viewpoints. Additionally, there is a visitor center and park store as well as exhibits and a museum to learn more of the history.

Regardless of your athletic prowess, the Tonto Natural Bridge is not to be missed when in the area.