Doll Baby Ranch Trail to the Spanish Ruins is a popular 4 mile out and back hike located near Payson, Arizona that features mysterious ruins and a panoramic view at the top. The views from the top are spectacular!!
The trail is well-defined and easy to follow. You will follow a rugged forest service road up to the cliffs. The road is rocky and does get a little steeper in places, but it is a relatively easy hike to the top of the road. Once you near the top and pass through a gate pictured above, you will then turn off of the forest service trail to the left on a small trail leading up some boulders to the top of the mesa. The hike over the boulders to the top of the cliffs is a little more challenging, but still not prohibitive for most hikers. When you near the top of the cliff you can walk just below it until you find the easy way to the top. Once on top of the Mesa you will follow the cairns and a vague trail near the edge of the cliffs to the mysterious ruins.
The ruins set along the edge of the rock ledge. They are apparently the remnants of a large Native American Village form the 14th century even though they are referred to as Spanish Ruins. If you continue past the mysterious ruins another 100 yards or so you will discover large boulders with metates (grain grinding holes) and a cave used as a granary.
The views at the top near the ruins are spectacular and pictures are never going to do it justice. From the cliffs near the ruins you will have panoramic views of the Mazatzal Wilderness from a high vantage point. There is also a river that runs through the valley on the backside of the cliffs.
The Doll Baby Trailhead is located in the Mazatzal Wilderness area of the Tonto National Forest. If you follow main street out of Payson past Green Valley Park and the Payson Golf Course and keep going past Doll Baby Ranch until the road ends, you will find the Doll Baby Trailhead. The Trailhead is approximately 9 miles past Payson Golf Course in the Mazatzal Wilderness. The road is mostly paved getting out to the trailhead but you will have go navigate some rough patches of dirt road and a cattle guard that needs to be worked on.