Hiking

Hiking opportunities range from short nature walks to longer backcountry hikes. More than 800 miles of trail allow exploration of areas otherwise inaccessible.

Mogollon Rim Area: Willow Springs #536, Hangman #600,

Los Burros: #631, Pole Knowl #602, Government Springs #95A

Past Sunrise turn off; South Fork #97, Indian Springs #627,

Past Springerville,: Murray Basin #607, Escudilla #308, Williams

Valley #80A

For excellent maps and descriptions of hiking trails see Tracks website:

http://www.tracks-pinetop-lakeside.org/

Hikes south of Alpine and a couple in Pinetop are described at: http://www.arizonahikingtrails.com/showlowhikes.asp

Pinetop Lakeside area:

White Mountain Trail System Trails are marked with blue diamonds and are all open to bikes. They often bear directional arrows, trail numbers, or colored dots. Yellow dots indicate a short route back to the trailhead. Green dots indicate a connector trail. Red dots indicate a side trail to a point of interest or a particularly scenic vista.

The trails frequently make use of and cross existing roads and travel ways. It’s very easy to miss a trail marker and lose the trail. Expect this. If you become confused, backtrack to the point where you lost the trail. Portions of the trail system use forest roads. Be aware of possible vehicle traffic.

Partnership with the Forest Service, Pinetop/Lakeside TRACKS, and the Arizona State Parks Heritage Trails Fund have helped build these trails. Volunteers have built the majority of the White Mountain Trail System. If you or your community service group is interested in volunteering, contact the U.S. Forest Service or Pinetop/Lakeside Parks and Recreation Department.

All of the trails in the White Mountain Trail System are open to bicycles and horses.. These trails below are described on the Tracks website. http://www.tracks-pinetop-lakeside.org/

#107 Blue Ridge Trail
Length: 8 miles
Rating: Difficult Use: Heavy
Elevation: 6,950-7,656 ft.

#608 Blue Ridge Cave Trail
Length: 3.5 miles
Rating: Difficult
Use: Moderate
Elevation: 6,700-7,200 ft.

#629 Land of the Pioneers
Length: 11 miles
7 miles short loop
Rating: Difficult
Use: Light
Elevation: 7,220-7,866 ft.

#631 Los Burros
Length: 13 miles
Rating: Moderate
Use: Light
Elevation: 7,800-8,370 ft.

#632 Country Club
Length: 3.5 miles
Rating: Moderate
Use: Moderate
Elevation: 7,190-7,612 ft.

#633 The Springs
Length: 3.8 miles
Use: Moderate/Heavy
Elevation: 7,140-7,190 ft.

#635 Panorama
Length: 8 miles
Rating: Moderate
Use: Moderate
Elevation: 6,750-7,300 ft.

#636 Timber Mesa
Length: 6 miles
Rating: Difficult
Use: Moderate
Elevation: 6,640-6,960 ft.

#637 Buena Vista
Length: 9 miles
Rating: Moderate
User: Moderate
Elevation: 6,520-6,773 ft.

#638 Los Caballos
Length: 14 miles
Rating: Difficult
Use: Moderate
Elevation: 6,300-6,940 ft.

#640 Juniper Ridge
Length: 14 miles;
7.2 miles short loop
Rating: Difficult
Use: Light
Elevation: 6,370-6,998 ft.

#641 Ghost of the
Coyote
Length: 16 miles
Rating: Difficult
Use: Light
Elevation: 6,200-6,600 ft.

Woodland Lake Park
Length: 1.25-4 miles
Rating: Easy
Use: Heavy
Elevation: 6,950-7,000 ft.

#140 General Crook Connector
Length: 6 miles to
Heber District
Rating: Difficult
Use: Light
Elevation: 6,370-6,900 ft.

#631 A Country Club;
Los Burros Connector
Length: 6.5 miles
Rating: Moderate
Use: Light
Elevation: 7,000-7,800 ft.

#635A Timber Mesa
Length:
Panorama Connector 2.5 miles;
Flume Connector (635A)
Sawmill Connector (635B)
4.5 miles
Rating: Moderate
Elevation: 6,800-6,900 ft.

More trail information that hiking and biking can share see Biking tab.

Bike Rentals: Cycle Mania 100 N White Mt. Rd 928-537-8812

Lower Fish Creek Trail
The Lower Fish Creek Trail follows the perennial flow of Fish Creek all the way to the Black River. Cradled in a cozy wooded canyon that opens up several times to accommodate meadows of wildflowers, the path delves into the wilderness. Anglers will enjoy fishing for native Apache trout. The steel-gray walls of the canyon, with their strange spires and hoodoos, add to an untamed feeling. The trail makes a gradual descent to the river. The last mile of the trail rises into a mixed conifer forest just past the cowboy camp. On a cloudy day, the forest gets dark and disquieting. The trail ends at its confluence with the Black River. On a sunny day, the swift-flowing water sparkles like a neon marquee. After a rain, mist swirls around the craggy cliffs so thickly, it hides the river.

Trail Guide
Length: 5.5 miles, one-way

Elevation: 8,400 to 6,800 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Directions: From Hannagan Meadow, drive .1 mile north on U.S. Route 191 to Forest Road 576 and turn left. Drive about 4 miles west to FR 24 and turn right. After about 1 mile, bear left onto 24/83. Drive about 5 miles to 83A and turn left. Travel 1.3 miles and turn left again onto the signed road to the trailhead. Drive .4 mile to the trailhead. A high-clearance vehicle is necessary.

Information: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, Alpine Ranger District, 928-339-4384; www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf/recreation/trails

South Fork Trail
The trailhead at Mexican Hay Lake marks the downhill, or easy, option of the 7-mile South Fork Trail 97, which travels for much of its length along the South Fork of the Little Colorado River up in the alpine zone of Arizona’s White Mountains. The more difficult reverse route starts at the primary trailhead in the South Fork Campground, some 7 miles and 1,500 feet down trail. The trail begins on a plateau adjacent to Mexican Hay Lake, so named because pioneer settlers in the region annually drained the lake to harvest and bale the tall grasses growing there. For the first half of the hike, the trail stretches nearly 4 miles across a park like forest of 300-year-old ponderosa pine trees. Leaving the plateau, the trail drops sharply toward the river.

Trail Guide
Length: 7 miles, one-way

Elevation: 9,000 to 7,500 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Directions: To reach the upper trailhead at Mexican Hay Lake, travel 3 miles west from Eagar on State Route 260; turn south on State Route 261. It’s approximately 8 miles to Mexican Hay Lake. A dirt road, which should be avoided in wet weather, leads to the trailhead on the north side of the lake. To reach the lower trailhead at the South Fork Campground, travel 5.5 miles west on Route 260; turn south on Forest Road 560 and drive 2.8 miles to the campground and trailhead on the west side of the stream.

Travel Advisory: This hike is best done in late spring, summer or autumn. Be prepared for any weather in Arizona’s high country.

Information: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, Springerville Ranger District, 928-333-4372.

Lanphier Trail
The 5.6-mile-long Lanphier Trail in the Blue Range Primitive Area, named for a family who homesteaded their namesake canyon, has it all. Along the trail, the stream-fed trees shade you on a summer hike of moderate difficulty. The trail also offers pools to cool you off, curious geology and mountaintop views. And it boasts some unusually named features. Take, for instance, the Red Rock Pillars at mile 1.5. After the trail climbs out of Largo Canyon, where it gets its start, it crests a ridge, drops into Lanphier Canyon and travels under a canopy of sprawling oaks along Lanphier Creek to an area where the walls narrow and squeeze together. You’d never guess this spot is called the Red Rock Pillars because you’ll see no “pillars,” and the rock walls look more purple than red, but none of that mars the charm. From the Red Rock Pillars, the trail runs up and down the canyon walls for the next three-quarters of a mile. A half-mile farther, the trail starts an austere climb out of the canyon, leaving the shade behind. For the next mile, the trail rambles in and out of secluded basins filled with Gambel oaks, then drops all the way back down to the floor of Lanphier Canyon along the creek again.

Trail Guide
Length: 5.6 miles, one-way

Elevation: 5,600 to 7,360 feet

Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous

Directions: From Alpine, drive about 3 miles east on U.S. Route 180, and turn right (south) onto Forest Road 281 (Blue River Road); drive about 25 miles to the Blue Administration Site and a trailhead marked “Largo and Foote Creek Trailhead.” Walk to the right of the trailhead posterboard through two gates to the Blue River. Cross the river and head to a corral, which marks the beginning of the trail.

Information: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, Alpine Ranger District, 928-339-4384; www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf/recreation/trails.

Indian Springs Trail
Indian Springs Trail, near Big Lake in Eastern Arizona’s high country, makes for a scenic, 7.5-mile loop. Designated for mountain biking as well as hiking, much of the well-maintained trail follows an abandoned railroad grade. A short connecting trail from Rainbow Campground provides convenient access from the Big Lake recreational area. After a half-mile, you’ll reach the turnoff to the Big Lake lookout tower. This side trip, an easy walk for most of its half-mile length, ends with a short but steep scramble up a granite escarpment to the fire lookout. Back on the main trail, after another half-mile, you’ll reach Spillman Spring, where three hollowed-out logs channel water from the spring and serve as water troughs for cattle and wildlife. The trail follows a ribbon of green meadow to Indian Spring. Located at the confluence of two shallow drainages, the spring forms a tiny summer pond. From the spring turn left, and hike a quarter-mile to an old railroad bed. The path leaves the old railroad bed and wanders through woodlands and meadows before crossing Forest Road 249E.

Trail Guide
Length: 7.5 miles, round-trip

Elevation: Elevation of hike is 9,000 feet, but hike is relatively level.

Difficulty: Moderate

Directions: From Show Low head southeast on State Route 260 to State Route 273. Turn right onto State 273 and drive southeast to the junction with State Route 261. Turn right and head south on State 261 toward Big Lake. Passing the turnoff to Big Lake, continue south on graveled Forest Road 249 for .7 mile to Forest Road 249E, which is marked with signs for Buffalo Crossing and Sprucedale. Turn right onto FR 249E and follow for a half-mile to the Indian Springs Trail parking area on the left side of the road.
Warning: Water at the springs must be treated before drinking.

Information: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, Springerville Ranger District, 928-333-4372; www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf/recreation/trails

Thompson Trail
Picture a long alpine valley at nearly 9,000 feet of elevation with a blue-ribbon trout stream running its entire length and forested slopes of spruce, fir and yellow-leafed aspen trees ascending to surrounding peaks. Imagine a level trail that meanders with the stream, mostly in sun, sometimes in shadow, never more than a few yards from the stream bank. Add a sunny Arizona fall morning with frost underfoot and a fine mist exhaled from the shallow, fast-moving waters. That’s a description of Forest Service Trail 629 (Thompson Trail) in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. The trail traces a portion of the West Fork of the Black River near Big Lake in Arizona’s White Mountains. The round-trip length of the hike is either 4.8 or 6.5 miles, depending on whether you hike Trail 628A, the shorter loop that begins where the Thompson Trail meets the West Fork Trail, 628 in the trail system. Because it traverses sensitive riparian habitat, the Thompson Trail 629 is for hikers only. Trail 628, a section of which travels along an old railroad grade above and parallel to the Thompson Trail, is open to both hikers and mountain bikers. Either route offers views of some of Arizona’s most scenic landscapes.

Trail Guide
Length: 6.5 miles, round-trip

Elevation: 8,600 to 8,840 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Directions: From Springerville, drive south on U.S. Route 180/191 to State Route 260 and turn west. After 3 miles, turn south on State Route 261, which joins Forest Road 113 as it loops around Big Lake and becomes Forest Road 249E. To reach the trailhead from Big Lake, drive northwest on FR 249E until it merges with Forest Road 116, then it’s approximately 1.5 miles west to the trailhead at the confluence of Thompson Creek and the West Fork of the Black River at Thompson Ranch. A parking area and information kiosk indicate the trailhead.

Travel Advisory: This hike is best done in late spring, summer and autumn. Be prepared for any type of weather in Arizona’s high country.