★★★☆☆ Moderate / Payson Area
Explore an abandoned railroad tunnel at the end of this short Mogollon Rim Hike. The Railroad Tunnel Hiking Trail works its way down, then around a moderately steep ravine. And leads to a shady stone tunnel which opens onto sweet rim views!
TRAILHEAD: Rim Road 300, east of Strawberry • DIFFICULTY: Moderate (difficult last half mile) • DISTANCE: 1.5 MILES • APPROX. TIME: 0.75-1.25 HOURs • starting elevation: 7,280 • ELEVATION GAIN: -790′ (approx. 56 stories) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 225-225 • BEST TIME OF YEAR: March-Oct. • PETS: yes • KID FRIENDLY: 10 and older • FACILITIES: none • FEES: none
The Railroad Tunnel’s trailhead sits on the top of the Mogollon Rim, about 12-miles from Rim Road 300’s eastern entrance. From the teeny dirt parking lot, the trail makes a straight shot down the side of a beautiful ravine. Stunning views of the valley spread out below. The pathway is full of loose stones. So be careful with the footing!
After a one-mile downhill trek, the trail forks at the top of a tight switchback. Turn left to reach the Railroad Tunnel. A sign bolted into a fallen log points the way. (The Colonel Devon Trail continues down to the valley floor to the right.)
The next half-mile of the Railroad Tunnel Hiking Trail is a steep ascent up a neighboring ravine. The path is rugged, made up of sand and boulders. This is the most challenging section of the hike and a bit of a scramble.
The Railroad Tunnel
The tunnel is tall and wide and a little over 70′ deep. The floor slants slightly uphill, leading to an abrupt end at a cool stone wall. Unfortunately, the tunnel walls are brightly colored with years of graffiti.
The railroad tunnel is the work of James Eddy, a pioneering businessman of the late 1880’s. His unfinished dream was to build the Arizona Mineral Belt Railroad, in an effort to connect Arizona’s mineral rich south with the cross-country railroads already traversing the north. However, Eddy ran out of funds after only a few months of blasting and had to abandon the project.
Resources Click here to download a trail map
From Strawberry: From the intersection of AZ 87 and N. Strawberry Drive, take AZ 87 north for 10.2 miles. Turn right / east on Rim Road 300 and continue 12.3 miles to the Railroad Tunnel trailhead, on the right / south side of the road.
From Heber: Turn right / northwest onto Rim Road 300 from its start at AZ 260 (between Heber and Payson). Continue for 43.8 miles to the Railroad Tunnel trailhead, on the left / south side of the road.