Rising high above at an elevation of 11,350 feet, Mt. Baldy is the highest point in the White Mountains and second highest in the state of Arizona. To hike it, there are two paths to choose from.
West Mt. Baldy #94 is six miles long and East Mt. Baldy #95 is seven miles long. Both are challenging. If you live in the White Mountains and love hiking you have to do Mt. Baldy. After all, it is one of Arizona's most loved and scenic hikes.
Hiking the Catwalk National Recreation Trail is a "do it now" experience.
This trail is within the Gila National Forest of New Mexico, five miles from the town of Glenwood. It features picnic grounds among huge cottonwood and sycamore trees.
The catwalk is a long steel walkway clinging to narrow canyon cliffs and bridging the tops of boulders. The modern catwalk is reminiscent of the catwalk that was used to transport gold ore from an upstream mine.
Big Springs Environmental Study Area exists for our benefit - an outdoor classroom to learn about our area's natural wonders. It offers a short loop trail with interpretive signs and plenty of photo opportunities.
The numerous springs that bubble up at the edge of the large pond are what give it its name. Springs are the result of the interaction between water and the geology of the area. The springs remain at a constant temperature and never freeze, providing a major source of pure crystal clear spring waters which flow into Rainbow Lake.
To have the grandest and most sweeping view off of the edge of the Mogollon Rim you have to first be standing on the edge. And, to get to that exact spot you''ll have to take a drive seven miles south of Hannagan Meadow. From the vantage point at the Blue Vista Overlook you'll experience the dramatic topography of most of Southeast Arizona and western New Mexico.
The KP Rim Trail #315 is in the Blue Range Primitive Area which is roughly 25 miles south of Alpine along the east side of the beautiful Coronado Scenic Byway (U.S. 191). The trailhead is easy to find as the brown highway sign #93 / #315 is just south of Hannagan Meadow on the left side.
"Nature alone is antique and the oldest art a mushroom" - CARLYLE
This trail would make a good family hike. It has got to be one of the best-marked trails I've ever traveled. Following the trail signage of blue diamonds was so easy. The next diamond nailed to a tree was always in sight and the abundance and variety of mushrooms growing alongside the trail was astounding. I'll always think of this trail as the "mushroom trail."
Legend has it that there were three Arab women who once lived in this area a long time ago. They were rumored to have kept lots of money stashed on their property and were murdered, their homestead torn up, but no money was found. Foundation and parts of their home still remain, but you'll have to hike the Land of the Pioneers Trail to see it.
"As time passes we all get better at blazing a trail through the thicket of advice." - Margot Bennett This is what I call a Girl's Day Out. A day with friends, not meant to be shared at a restaurant for lunch, but in having snacks together, sitting on large rocks under shade trees near b a creek. Can't beat that!
"Ordinarily, the man who loves the woods and the mountains, the trees, the flowers, and the wild things, has in him some indefinable quality of charm which appeals even to those sons of civilization who care for little outside of paved streets and brick walls." - Teddy Roosevelt
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves." - John Muir
On a warm November day, my friend, Sandy Gross, and I decided to do a short hike. I got to pick which one and Fool Hollow Lake is the one I chose. It had been a few years since I hiked this trail, so it was good to be going back.
This is only one of several trails in the 14 mile recreation area created for hikers, horseback riders, bicyclists and cross-country skiing. Trails vary in length, difficulty, and terrain. The majority of the trails follow old logging roads.
This is an easy shady one mile loop along the forested shore of Woods Canyon Lake. At one time it was a one-way interpretive sign trail, but the signs were vandalized and removed by the Forest Service. The Forest Service made the trail into a one mile loop.
It has been said that to visit the Mogollon Rim is to stand on the edge of the world. For more than 200 miles, the Mogollon Rim cuts across north-central Arizona. It rises thousands of feet above the desert shrub of the Tonto Basin. It is comprised of the edge of the Colorado Plateau that curves southeasterly from the Hurricane Cliffs in northwestern Arizona, across the entire state and into New Mexico.
Butler Canyon trail is an easy one-mile, self guided nature hike through a mixed-conifer forest of Ponderosa pine, blue spruce,
From the trail, one can get a view of Greer Lakes in the distance. Douglas fir and white pine. High elevation junipers grow shrublike, and alder, willow and aspen compete for living space along the lush riparian area of Butler Creek as it flows through Butler Canyon to join the Little Colorado River. It is here Jacob Noah Butler, and his 19 children, homesteaded in 1888.
The main stem of the Little Colorado River begins near Springerville here in the White Mountains and flows nearly 350 miles before emptying into the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. While approximately 26,000 square miles of land in the Little Colorado watershed is rural, the drainage basin's high southern edge is within the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, but most of the Little Colorado's valley is within the Navajo and Hopi Reservations. One of the most eye-catching portions of this river runs through the small mountain town of Greer.
"Is this Heaven?" was a question that kept popping into my head as I reached one of Arizona's most remote destinations, Havasupai. It is hard to imagine that this isolated paradise exists in Arizona, but this has been a popular tourist spot for many years but...it's not for the weak-of-heart.
Winter hiking is the best way to beat the winter blues. Fresh air and beautiful winter scenery can break the monotony of sitting in front of the TV or computer, even though a warm, cozy fire in the fireplace beckons even the most avid outdoorsperson. Exercising in the winter is just as important, if not more so, than in the spring, summer and fall.
Fall is the best time to hike in the White Mountains. Temperatures are cool and mountain air is fresh. As we hike Indian Springs Trail, tall aspen tower over us and their brilliant colored leaves illuminate the forest floor beneath, which is already carpeted with fallen leaves, forming a pallette of yellow, scarlett and orange.
The KP Cienega, once the summer headquarters for the former Y-Y Ranch owned by Joseph Hampton "Toles" Cosper, has one of the most beautiful trails in the Alpine Ranger District. Remnants of its cattle days still remain and Cosper families from all over the country still return here each year for their family reunion.
Back in the days when Naturalist Aldo Leopold, 1909 Arizona Forest Officer and founder of the Gila National Forest Wilderness, Escudilla was the home of a large grizzly bear named Big Foot. He was seldom seen, but left incredibly big tracks. Big Foot only killed one cow a year, but this was his downfall.
This is one of the Springerville Ranger District's newest trails. Rolling hills, juniper trees, open meadows, old windmills, corrals and homestead remnants give this trail a southwestern feel. Panoramic views from small knolls make it an enjoyable hike.
With binnoculars in one hand and a camera in the other, I enter the fence surrounding Jacques Marsh and cautiously climb the berms around the pond in hopes of capturing shots of rare waterfowl on rolls of film. Unfortunately, my slight movements stir the silence and my presence is detected immediately.
We watch in amazement as our Apache guide, Kicker, grips the mane of his horse and throws himself onto its saddle-less back before leading us down the trail and into the forest. I felt like I was in a Western movie; expecting to see John Wayne around the next corner. Instead, what we see is some of the most spectacular scenery the White Mountains has to offer.
Take treated wastewater effluent, add large varieties of waterfowl and other wildlife, an observation blind, paved, handicapped accessible trails and you have Pintail Lake. Part of the Allen Severson Memorial Wildlife Area, Pintail Lake was developed in 1979 to improve waterfowl nesting, feeding, and resting habitat.
Panorama Trail is part of the Woolhouse Wildlife Habitat Area, and is closed to motorized vehicles in an effort to improve wildlife habitat and protect soil, vegetation and water. I have spotted large herds of elk grazing along the northern portion of the trail. In fact, I was within about 10 yards from them before they knew I was there. In the fall, this is a great place to hear them bugle.
Pinyon and alligator juniper line the rocky trail as we struggle to the top of Timber Mesa. Mountain biking is definitely challenging because of the many rocks and boulders at the beginning of the trail and at the top of the mesa. The climb to 6,920 elevation adds to the difficulty on this hot and balmy morning. Once we reach the top, though, the views our worth our effort.
It was a frigid day when my friend Charmi Weker and I headed out to the Silver Creek Hatchery just outside of Show Low off of Bourdon Ranch Road. Charmi had seen this hatchery a few weeks earlier having hiked it with the local Up the Hill hiking club.
Looking over the Little Colorado River from the ruins of a past civilization, which dated back to the somewhere between the 11th and the 14th century, is an experience in discovering antiquity. Pathways constructed of basalt and cinders lead to ancient times, when the Mogollon tribes inhabited this area, leaving behind tell-tale signs of their complex and difficult lifestyles.
Off highway vehicle owners who have been waiting for a trail designed just for them can now enjoy an incredible ride through some of Arizona's most beautiful country. Ponderosa, aspen, fir and alligator juniper forests as well as scenic views and a variety of terrains keep this trail interesting and fun.
Last year, I heard about an incident with a bear and some horseback riders. Turns out, according to Heather Despain our trail guide at Arizona Custom Trail Rides, it happened to them while packing out of Mount Baldy.
Take a horse, stretch out his neck, replace his ears with bananas, cover him with thick woolly fur and slip on deer feet and what do you have? A large, fuzzy, friendly, non-ruminant (hoofed, cud-chewing mammal), domesticated animal called a llama (that does ruminate). These fascinating animals are from the camel family technically called camelids
In 1963, horticulturist Sally McClagan left England to search for plants in Chile. Her route home included a passage through America where she bought a 99-day bus ticket for $99. Here she met her husband, Tim Walker and together they formed a business collecting native plants to produce seeds which they sell to plant lovers. They are known as plant hunters.
There's a story that is told about a bank robber that was killed (in the early 1900s) at the Blue Lookout Cabin located about three miles down the canyon from the tower. It is one of many stories that haunt the wild and rugged terrain of the Blue Range Primitive Area. Though outlaws no longer hide out here, the wild and rugged terrain still exists.
Rated: Easy to Moderate
This hiking/skiing trail starts out behind the Hannagan Meadow Lodge and leads to the remains of an old, abandoned
homestead called Balke's cabin. The lush green meadows, colorful wildflowers, tall douglas fir and spruce create brilliantly painted landscapes.
Bear Creek Trail is a 6/10 mile trail that follows Bear Creek to the Black River. This is a great secluded place to fish because the access (by trail) is short and easy. Once you reach the Black River, look for big horn sheep - if you're not too busy fishing. There is an abundance of poison ivy along the trail which, contact with this flora, can ruin even the best vacations.
Rated: Moderate to Difficult
Elevation: 8,200' to 9,300'
A river (The Little Colorado) runs through this trail. In fact you have to cross it to continue to hike a 600-foot rise in elevation to the top of Amberon Point. Towering ponderosa pine and aspen line the trail that leads through forest and meadow to Gabaldon Campground (horse camping only).
This beautiful mountain canyon trail was named after a 1888 homesteader named Jacob Noah Butler. It is a selfguided nature trail providing information about wildlife, plants and habitats. Make sure you get a guide book from the Forest Service before you go.
Rated: Moderate to Difficult
The Little Colorado River is definitely the highlight of this trail. The first few miles of trail follow the flowing water toward Hay Lake. After crossing the river, the trail becomes more difficult as far as elevation and the ascending of rocky areas where the trail becomes very steep. But the panoramic views from the top are certainly worth it.
8 miles round trip
Elevation: 8,700' on rim 6,700 in canyon
Some of the best places to visit are the hardest to get to.
This is a difficult trail because of the decent to the bottom
of the canyon and then the climb back up to the top of the rim. The panoramic views at the top are breathtaking and the waterfall at the bottom is beautiful. Plan to stay a full day for this hike.
Rated: Easy to Moderate
Elevation: 7,200'-7350' Mountain 7,612'
This trail is a loop that follows portions of the old Apache
Railroad bed. It leads you through tall ponderosa pine and
meadows. A half mile spur trail, (Vista Point Trail), leads
you to the top of Pat Mullen Mountain. Check out the high-elevation panoramic views and great mountain biking. Country Club Trail connects to Los Burros and Springs Trails. Make sure you take a trail map with you.
Rated: Moderate to Difficult
The trail starts out along Porter Creek, passes Scott Reservoir and continues its 3.5 miles to the Blue Ridge Trail. About halfway along the route you'll find the adjoining trail (east of the trail), that leads to the ice cave. Parts of the trail are rocky which makes hiking difficult. Alligator Juniper, oaks, abundant wildflowers and
wildlife make this an enjoyable hike.
Elevation: 7,825' - 8,275'
Los Burros Ranger Station used this area as a base to keep a watchful eye on fires until they built the tower on Lake Mountain in 1926. You can still see remnants of the cabin, barn and corral amidst the tall, over-grown grasses at the entrance of the campground. Aspen and towering ponderosa pine line the trail as it loops around Wishbone Mountain. This is a great trail to hear or see elk. It is a long trail so, make sure you bring lots of water and maybe a snack.
Remnants of history still remain along this trail. Visit cabin ruins where forgotten homesites once flourished among the towering ponderosa and juniper. Panoramic views display northern mountain tops and hazy skylines. Designated "Millennium Trail 2000" by the White House Millennium Council- a program started by Hillary Clinton to acknowledge the value trails have to the people and the communities they connect.
Approximately 1.5 miles
Follow the old fisherman's trail along the right side of Pacheta Creek and it will take you to one of the largest
waterfalls in Arizona. Once you get close to the falls, the
trail ends and you have to cross the creek. The falls drop
131 feet so, keep an eye on young children and pets.
Rated: Easy to Moderate
Elevation: 9,140' - 9,200'
This trail is part of the "Rails to Trails" program designed
to preserve America's old railroad network by turning the
rails into trails. The old Apache railroad beds carry hikers
through tall aspen and ponderosa, across the Little Colorado River and over a trestle bridge.
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