The Tonto National Forest is the fifth largest forest in the US, encompassing just under 3 million acres. Established in 1905 to protect watersheds, primarily the Roosevelt Lake Reservoir, this urban forest receives well over 5.8 million visitors yearly. The Tonto is divided into six districts: Cave Creek, Globe, Mesa, Payson, Pleasant Valley and Tonto Basin. It reaches from the saguaro studded Sonoran Desert in the south to pinyon pine forests just below the Mogollon Rim to the north.
There are a number of exceptional places on the Tonto National Forest including eight wilderness areas and the only waters in Arizona which are part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Wilderness areas on the Tonto are: Four Peaks, Hell’s Gate, Mazatzal, Pine Mountain, Salome, Salt River, Sierra Ancha, and Superstition. The Superstition Wilderness, possibly the most highly used urban wilderness in the US, provides 160 miles of trails within its 160,000 acres. Both Fossil Creek and the Verde River contain designated Wild and Scenic sections.
The Tonto National Forest website can be found here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/tonto/