Friday, July 31, 2020

Mountain Biking 101: Tips for Beginners

Mountain Biking 101: Tips for Beginners

Few things are as memorable as learning to ride a bike, and you never forget how to ride once you learn. However, as you make a transition into mountain biking, there are skills and tips everyone should know before hitting the trails. Mountain biking is characterized by steep inclines and challenging terrain that require a strong rider and power in the pedal. 

The following tips will make any beginner rider ready for mountain biking in no time:

Man with helmet biking through tall grass

Develop a Fitness Base and Properly Fuel Your Body

It’s important to have a strong fitness and endurance foundation before hopping on a mountain bike and heading straight into a fast, intense ride. The higher the endurance, the better the body will handle the high-intensity exercise that comes with mountain biking. 

If you need to build your fitness base, spend a few weeks riding frequently and consistently with minimal effort, and slowly add the speed and power. Ride like this for no more than two hours three or four times a week. If you think your body can handle more, don’t build speed; instead, ride longer at the same effort level. 

With proper exercise comes the need for adequate nutrition. If you’re not fueling your body with nutrient-rich foods, the work put in on the bike won’t yield many results. After a long ride, fuel up with vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and healthy, all-natural meals. Don’t forget to hydrate, either. 

After a few weeks of building endurance, take a recovery week to recuperate and let your muscles rest. Keep your rides short this week so your body can prepare for the next step: intervals.

female biker handle bars

Incorporate Intervals a Few Times Each Week

Once you’ve spent a few weeks building your endurance, start incorporating interval rides on one or two of your workouts each week. Start your first two weeks with a Tabata interval plan similar to this one: 
  • 30-minute warm-up ride
  • Five repetitions: 
    • 5 seconds push
    • 10-20 seconds rest
  • Long break and cool-down
As the weeks go on, dial up the effort and push for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest, and add on repetitions. 

If timed Tabata intervals don’t interest you, try the fartlek training concept that’s popular with runners. In running, fartlek involves periods of fast running mixed with periods of slow running. This training regiment is flexible for the person. You can also try using landmarks, like power line poles, street lights, trees, or other things to visualize your intense work periods. 

After several weeks of slowly building some sort of interval training, add a longer interval workout that includes biking for five or 10 minutes at a pace you can hold for 20.

biker taking a curve

Practice Burning Through the Turns

Mountain biking requires a lot of skill, including the ability to turn quickly at high speeds. Cornering is a skill bikers of all levels can continually improve so they can keep their speed and use less energy. 

To effectively turn, set up for it early in a wide stance with equal weight on both pedals. Keep your knees open in a crouched position so your bike can lean to each side. Remember that you don’t want to lean with your body - just with the bike. 

Brake, before you turn, as braking during a turn, can cause skidding. Ease off the brakes as you make the turn, looking toward the end of the curve and turning your body in that direction. 

biker going down rocky slope

Ride Over Rocks and Roots with Little Effort

There are going to be a lot of obstacles when you’re mountain biking, from rocks and bumps to sticks and tree roots. Many of them, however, are fairly easy to ride over, as long as you keep a good form and keep momentum to a minimum. 

With equal weight on both pedals and a healthy bend in your knees and ankles, push your elbows out and approach the objects at a jogging speed. Don’t look down at the ground, but keep your focus on the trail ahead—as far as possible. Use your peripheral vision to orient yourself. 

Don’t lean on the handlebars, as that could cause a weight imbalance in the front wheel and make it snag. Keep your hands light and your weight in the pedals. 

Learn and Conquer the Front-Wheel Lift

The basic front-wheel lift is a necessary move to ride over sizable objects like logs on level or downhill trails. Begin standing with equal weight on each side, looking forward, and elbows and knees bent. The front-wheel lift is executed in three parts: loading, exploding, and lifting. Practice the front-wheel lift on parking lot curbs or similar small objects to get the timing right.

Load your handlebars with your upper body by forcibly bending your elbows. This will compress the front shock. 

As you head over the obstacle and the shock of riding over it rebounds, explosively straighten your arms. 

When your front wheel leaves the ground, lift your handlebars to raise the wheel higher. Once the front wheel is over the obstacle, the rear, the unweighted wheel will swiftly follow. 

Save Energy on Uphill Obstacles with a Front-Wheel Lift

Conquering uphill obstacles is more exhausting than gliding over downhill rocks and roots, but the pedaling front-wheel lift can save some needed energy when you need to get over an uphill object while seated and climbing. 

Start this move with your dominant foot at the top of the pedal stroke. Give it a hard push to the bottom while at the same time leaning back with your upper body and straightening your arms. Your front wheel should rise as you do this. Focus on using the power of the pedals to raise the front wheel instead of using your upper body.

Once the front wheel clears the object, stand up in a crouch, and bend your arms. Shove the handlebars to lunge the rear wheel over the obstacle. 

Get Good Recovery Time

Recovery time is just as—if not more—important than training time. Your body needs time to reset and rebuild. If you’re not getting adequate recovery time, you will overwork your body, which can lead to serious overuse injuries. 

As soon as you finish a workout, whether it’s on or off the bike, eat a healthy, nutrient-rich snack filled with carbs and protein. Don’t plan multiple intense rides in a row. Instead, span them out over the week and incorporate easy rides in-between. This can help speed up recovery. 

Aim to take a day or two off the bike each week to rest. While you can workout off the bike one of those days to mix up your activity, these rest days will ensure your body is having the best time on the trails. 

While it’s tempting to head right out there, it’s important to build a base and practice good rest and nutrition before pushing too hard. With training, practice, rest, and nutrition, you’ll be setting off on advanced trails in no time, and mountain biking will be just as easy as, well, riding a bike.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The 7 Best Hikes Along Arizona’s Mogollon Rim

The 7 Best Hikes Along Arizona's Mogollon RIm
If you are looking for scenic, unique hikes near Flagstaff, the Mogollon Rim provides amazingly lush and scenic trails that will take you through central Arizona’s wilderness. The Payson area features pine forests, clear streams, and unforgettable views you can’t find anywhere else. 

Here are the seven best hikes along the Mogollon Rim. 

Woman Hiking in Meadow
Pine & Gowan Hiking Trail Loop, Tonto Natural Bridge State Park
On this easy, 0.9-mile loop trail, hikers will explore pine-lined trails and ascend 185 feet to find a 14-story tall natural cave bridge towering over them. Pine and Gowan are two combined trails that loop around to form this easy trip. It’s a family-friendly hike that the kids won’t soon forget.

The trail is open year-round. Visitors can walk under the world’s largest natural Travertine Bridge and feel the mist from the waterfall pouring over them. As you hike under the bridge, drops of water from reflecting pools above fall through the cavern. 

Since this trail is located in a state park, there is a fee to enter and pets are not allowed on the trails. The trailhead is accessible down Tonto National Forest Road 583.

Two people backpacking in mountains
Water Wheel Hiking Trail to Ellison Falls
This short, 1.6-mile hike (3.2 miles round trip) follows two rivers and leaves hikers at a blue-as-day swimming hole. As you make your way there you’ll pass towering waterfalls and plunging gorges. 

Aptly named for the old wheel that sits near the trailhead, there are a few modest ascents, but the trail is overall easy and well-maintained. You’ll cross over a hill high above the river and hike up granite rock to find more gushing creeks and cool areas. 

There is a 9$ parking fee to park at the Water Wheel Trailhead, and pets are more than welcome to join their humans on this hike. The trailhead is found almost eight miles down Houston Mesa Road. The trail is best used from March through October.

Hiking Accessories
Barnhardt Hiking Trail
If you’re looking for a more extreme hike with gorgeous waterfalls at the end, hike the Barnhardt Trail. This trail starts out in the desert and ascends up the canyon. As you make your way up, snowmelt and waterfalls splash down over the canyon walls, creating a deafening, stunning soundtrack to this hike. 

The trail ends at the Mazatzal Divide Trail only after passing breathtaking valley views nearly 2,000 feet in elevation. You can either hike five miles round-trip to the main waterfall or complete the full six-mile hike (12 miles round trip). While this trail offers great views year-round, it’s best used from March through October.

While pets are allowed to hike this trail, they should be healthy and able to hike tough trails for long periods. The trailhead is five miles down FR 419 off State Route 87.

Hiking carrying a dog
Woods Canyon Lake Hiking Trail Loop
The hike to Woods Canyon features beautiful tall pine trees and bald eagles’ nests. The lake itself is a popular spot for fishing, camping, and boating, and this 3.7-mile loop is a popular addition. The trail mostly wraps around the lake, so you’ll experience a quiet waterfront hike beneath fluffy clouds⁠—not a common sight in Arizona!

After traversing a bog and crossing a small dam, you’ll pass a boat dock and general store before completing the loop at the lake’s picnic area parking lot. The trail is also pet-friendly, so furry friends can enjoy this hike as well. The best time to visit Woods Canyon Lake is from April to October.

To get to Woods Canyon Lake, drive five miles on FR 300 before turning right onto FR 150. The last parking lot behind Rocky Point Picnic Ground is for the Woods Canyon Lake Hiking Trail. You will need to pay $7 for a day pass.

Man hiking with backpack
Horton Creek Hiking Trail
This 3.5-mile hike (seven miles round trip) follows along Horton Creek, a bubbling, blissfully cool creek. This is a good hike for families with children and pets. The spring-fed waters stay crystal clear year-round and create chilly winds near its banks during our hot western summers. 

The trail begins at the base of the Mogollon Rim and gains more than 1,000 feet in elevation by the end of the hike. The out-and-back trail ends at Horton Spring, where you’ll find the cold waters gushing up above mossy rocks. The trailhead is located across from the Horton Creek and Derrick trailhead. For the best experience, hike this trail from March through November.

Woman hiking in the autumn
Canyon Hiking Trail
Hikers will find some of Mogollon Rim’s greatest features along the See Canyon Trail. You can start at the top and head down, or vice versa, on this 3.5-mile trail (seven miles round-trip). The lower trailhead starts along a gushing creek before heading into grassy areas and tree-lined trails. 

The trail continues to follow the canyon and gains about 1,500 feet in elevation before ending at the top with spectacular views of See Canyon and Mogollon Rim. To get to the lower trailhead on FR 284, it’s recommended to drive a high clearance vehicle to make it over the rutted dirt road. The best time to visit is from April through October.

Spring Hiking Trail
The See Spring Trail shares its first 3/4 of 1.5 miles (three miles round trip) with the See Canyon Hiking Trail, following along Christopher Creek.

As you continue and branch off the See Canyon Trail, you’ll follow along a branch of the creek and complete the hike near a pile of boulders underneath gushing waterfalls. The misty water brings cool air to the area that can help you cool off before heading back. The best time to use this trail is from April through October. The trailhead is found on FR 284.

These are just seven of the countless trails around the Mogollon Rim waiting to be explored. From cascading waterfalls to lush pine forests and canyons, this region in Arizona offers unforgettable natural wonders.

Friday, May 29, 2020

7 Amazing Ways to Spend a Day at Arizona’s Mogollon Rim

If you’re looking for some excitement in Arizona, Mogollon Rim spans many miles and keeps you interested with ever-changing scenery. From a low-key day of bird-watching to scaling a geological wonder, Mogollon Rim provides hiking and scenery enough to satisfy anyone. Intrigued? Here is our list of things to do around Mogollon Rim.

Sunset and stars over rocky ridge
Hike the Rim
If you are going to visit Mogollon Rim, you should probably get right up to the edge and see the view. Many hiking trails are scattered along the 200-mile ledge, some of which contribute to the 800-mile long Arizona National Scenic Trail.

For a good view and a relatively smooth hiking trail, the Rim Lakes Vista Trail #622 is a good option. For a more moderate hike, the Blue Ridge trail will take you by forests, canyons, and meadows as you trek from General George Crook’s cabin to the beginning of the Happy Jack trail. 

Rocky cliffs at sunset
Take a Scenic Drive on Rim Road
If you aren’t up for a hike, or you want to make sure you see as much of the area as possible during your visit, you will find a scenic drive down Rim Road to be extremely rewarding. Rim Road (also referred to as “Forest Road 300”) spans about 45 miles. It will take you past the Mogollon Visitor Center, Willow Springs Lake, and many vistas to stop at and take in the view. If you want to stretch your legs, there are plenty of hiking trails along the way, including the Arizona Trail and the Houston Brother’s Trail. Keep an eye out for wildlife like elk and mule deer while you drive.

man with backpack on mountain trail
Learn About the Area 
Rim Country Museum boasts a proud collection of history about the incredible geological feature that gave their county its name. From famous visitors to information about the area that dates back to 600 A.D., Rim Country Museum will bring you a wealth of facts and a respite from more strenuous activities.

The Mogollon Visitor Center is also worth a visit, especially because of the view. Situated on an overlook of lakes, forests, and canyon, you can stop by for a driving break and the panorama, or you can head inside and check out the facility. Informed staff and literature are available in the summertime to help you learn about the history and geology of the surrounding area. They also have local area information, and souvenirs related to the rim.

multi-colored songbird
In 2015, local bird enthusiasts counted 91 species of birds in the Payson area by the Mogollon Rim. Any bird watcher will have a heyday here. With various ecosystems in easy traveling distance from each other, you have the opportunity to see many species in one day as you move from the high country streams to Green Valley Park in Payson. You can also find a list of nearby birding areas put together by the Payson Birders.

Depending on the time of year and where you look, you are likely to see woodpeckers, American robins, Audubon’s Warblers, and a myriad of others. If you would like some extra guidance, Sedona Bird Watching Tours will tailor a tour to your needs, no matter your experience level. From 3 hours to a full day, all the tours include snacks, binoculars, and field guides.

Tent by campfire at night
Several spots in the Mogollon Rim District Recreation Areas are available for the public camping. Knoll Lake campsites have grills, drinking water, and vault toilets. If you boat or fish, you can do so at Knoll Lake, as well as Blue Ridge Reservoir or Soldier Lake. Other areas like Fossil Springs Wilderness and West Clear Creek Wilderness have dispersed camping and also support activities such as fishing and swimming (but no boats), and wildlife viewing. If water doesn’t interest you, Jack’s Canyon Recreation Area has dispersed camping and hiking, amongst other things.

Man rock-climbing in the forest
Jack’s Canyon Recreation Area boasts rock climbing in addition to the camping and hiking mentioned above. From vertical to “wildly overhanging” climbing routes, the Forest Service website says that you will find safe sport climbing at Jack’s Canyon, characterized by fixed anchoring systems. If you are looking for more guidance, you can find various rock climbing tours, such as through Centerfocus Experiences in Sedona. They will give you a quick training before you start, and the focus is a full day of climbing.

starry sky
Top Your day off With Some Stargazing
If you want to get the optimal stargazing experience, Mogollon Rim is the place to be. Situated in a pure air ozone belt, and with towns like Payson enacting a dark sky ordinance, it would be hard not having a spectacular nighttime view. Some great stargazing spots include Rim Road 300, a view from 7,000 feet above the canyon floor, Tonto National Monument in Rosevelt, where a park ranger will guide you through the night sky (and provide access to telescopes) on some evenings, and Hardscrabble Road, where you can pull off to see the sky in a wide-open space. For the adventurous soul, Young Highway is a National Scenic Byway 74 miles long. Start early in the day, bring food, and prepare to experience rough roads – you will be rewarded with an incredible view.

There is definitely something for everyone at Mogollon Rim. If you are a history and geology buff, you will have endless learning opportunities. If you want to get your exercise in, you have your pick of anything from a full day of rock climbing to a short paved walk with an incredible view. Lastly, if one day isn’t enough, you can spend the night at a campsite under the stars, or at a hotel in town, and see more tomorrow. No matter what you choose to do, Mogollon Rim will guarantee you an amazing view.

Monday, April 27, 2020

10 Best Spots for Fishing in Arizona's White Mountains

10 Best Spots for Fishing in Arizona's White Mountains

From avid anglers to those who want to try their hand at the pastime hobby, Arizona’s White Mountains offer some incredible and jaw-dropping locations for fishing. Fishing enthusiasts often travel to high-elevation areas in Arizona for the state’s trout. In fact, Arizona’s White Mountains are the only place to find the once-endangered Apache trout. With hundreds of miles of rivers and no shortage of creeks, there’s an ideal location in Arizona for any type of fishing outing.

In no particular order, here are the 10 best spots for fishing in Arizona’s White Mountains.

Canyon creek with path alongside

1. Canyon Creek

Ideal for: trout.
Located in the Mogollon Rim of Arizona lies one of Arizona’s best locations for rainbow trout. Popular for fly fishing, the Canyon Creek suffered a severe fire in 2002 that ravaged the area, and the resulting ash and debris devastated the trout population. We’re pleased to say that the area has since made a full recovery and is again one of the best spots in the state for rainbow trout.

fish leaping from the water

2. Salt River

Ideal for: smallmouth bass, catfish, rainbow trout, brown trout, sunfish.
Flowing through the Tonto National Forest is Arizona’s Salt River, a 200 mile long tributary of the Gila River. With its wild horses, canyons, and abundant wildlife, the Salt River is the perfect place to visit. As its name suggests, the Salt River flows over salt deposits (located in restricted areas nearby). Perfect for tubing and rafting, the Salt River makes for an excellent choice for a family outing.

3. Boneyard Creek

Ideal for: rainbow trout, brook trout.
If you’re after a small creek that can promise a decent catch, try Boneyard Creek. The area tends to be peaceful and serene, making it perfect for a quiet trip out of town. Camping is permitted, but if that’s not your cup of tea, try the nearby lodging. 

Blue River with hikers beside it

4. Blue River

Ideal for: rainbow trout, brown trout, catfish.
Arizona’s Blue River spans a stretch of 51 miles. Though it is ideal for rainbow trout and brown trout, anglers can try their luck with catfish, depending on the area of the river. Like many rivers in this region, the Blue River’s flow can depend on the snowpack, and it is susceptible to warm weather temperatures in the summer. Plan ahead before fishing on this location, taking note of the weather conditions. The Blue River offers what is arguably some of the best views of Arizona. And like much of the region, there’s plenty of wildlife to be seen, such as white-tailed deer, coyotes, and gray foxes.*

Elderly man with fish on a line

5. Grant Creek

Ideal for: rainbow trout
A tributary of the Blue River, Grant Creek is a quaint spot for fishing rainbow trout. If you also enjoy a good hike, Grant Creek offers some challenging trails with impressive views. The creek is situated in the Coronado National Forest. Deer and bears are plentiful in this area, though they are shy and tend to stay out of sight.

Black River and large pine trees

6. Black River

Ideal for: rainbow trout, brown trout, native trout, brook trout, smallmouth bass.
If you want to see nature and all it’s got to offer, Black River is the spot for you. With a whopping 114 miles of river, Arizona’s Black River covers a lot of ground. Hailed as “some of the finest flywaters in the state of Arizona,” the Black River is ideal for catching rainbow, brown, native, and brook trout and smallmouth bass—in pools, there’s an off chance for lunker browns. If you’ll be making the trip out between May and July, you’re in at the perfect time for bass. While you’re there, you might be able to spot some wild horse, elk, turkey, beavers, osprey, and even bears.*

7. Silver Creek

Ideal for: rainbow trout, brown trout, sunfish, catfish
If you want to catch big trout, this is your spot. Hailed by some as one of the best places to fish in Arizona, Silver Creek is stocked with rainbow trout every spring. The biggest challenge at Silver Creek is beating the crowds. But consider yourself warned, by summertime it gets quite warm, making fishing conditions less than ideal. A little known fact: Silver Creek was once the site of an active supervolcano that erupted millions of years ago.

8. Little Colorado River

Ideal for: rainbow trout, brown trout, native trout, brook trout.
A tributary of the Colorado River, Little Colorado River makes for an incredibly unique sight with its striking turquoise-blue waters that have carved a deep canyon. The bright blue color of the river is caused by the travertine and limestone in the water. The Little Colorado River is easily accessible and has plenty of nearby amenities, so consider spending more than one day here. The area has hiking trails, campgrounds, a nearby cabin resort, and plenty of nearby lodging and restaurants. Note that designated areas of the river are catch and release only. Fun fact: the Little Colorado River was once called the Flax River by early Spanish settlers, as it had an abundance of wild flax growing.*

9. Reservation Creek

Ideal for: rainbow trout, brown trout.
A distinctively alpine region, the high elevation of Reservation Creek makes it ideal for wild trout. In fact, it’s a prime trout spawning location. The cold water makes it perfect for trout year-round. In addition to fishing, the creek is also great for camping and kayaking.

10. KP Creek

Ideal for: rainbow trout.
Like Reservation Creek, KP Creek is high in elevation making it the perfect location for catching rainbow trout. It’s got an entire fishable location of 13 miles. If you’re also an experienced hiker, try the KP Creek trail, a challenging loop trail that rewards with a stunning waterfall view.

Wherever you choose to go fishing, be sure to check for what permits are needed, and what the rules are in each location, such as which areas are fishable and what types of bait are allowed. As you can see, there’s no shortage of beautiful fishing spots where you can find a quiet place to fish. And if you’re lucky, you might even snag a massive catch!

*If you're looking for lodging near the Black, Blue, or Little Colorado Rivers, Hannagan Meadow Lodge provides a place to hang your hat near the headwaters of those three watersheds. We can also provide a fishing guide if needed.

Happy fishing!

Monday, February 24, 2020

Twists, Turns, and Switchbacks: Motorcycle trip on the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway

twists, turns, and switchbacks: motorcycle trip on the coronado trail scenic byway

Some people drive to get from point A to point B. The more direct, the better: flat, straight roads with no distractions. They have a goal they want to reach, and the journey is just a means to an end.

But that’s not you, is it?

You’re on a motorcycle. Flat and straight is boring. You want hairpin turns and curves and switchbacks. And if the road offers you one amazing view after another, gets you closer to the sky, and takes you to the edge of the earth, even better.

man smiling on his motorcycle

For you, the journey IS the end, the whole reason you ride.

Welcome to the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway.

coronado trail road sign


The road was first proposed in 1916, and it closely followed the route taken by Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1540. Coronado’s expedition wanted to find the mythical Seven Cities of Cibola (City of Gold), and although he never found it, his expedition left a legacy that resulted in one of the best trails for motorcycle riders.

The highway in its current form was constructed in 1981 and it was originally called Highway 666, “The Devil’s Highway.”

Exactly the kind of road you want to travel, right?

However, in 1992, it was renamed Highway 191. Although Highway 191 travels through the entire United States, from Mexico in the south up to the Canadian border in the north, the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway is a 120-mile stretch in Arizona with over 400 curves. The trail takes you from hot Arizona deserts up to cool mountain meadows. Starting south, in Clifton, Arizona at 3,478 feet, you can zig-zag and climb your way up to Springerville at 6,974 feet, maxing out at 9,425 feet somewhere along the way.

That’s right: in 120 miles, you can climb 6000 feet.

switchback road through Arizona

Where to Pause Along Your Motorcycle Trip

In Clifton, check out the Clifton Cliff Jail, carved into the side of a granite cliff in 1881 and restored in 1929. The two-room jail—the smaller room for the dangerous criminals and the larger one for the least violent—was completed by a man named Margarito Varela. When Varela finished carving out the jail, he celebrated with whiskey and started shooting up a local dancehall to get people’s attention so he could tell them the jail was done. The local sheriff arrested him and Varela became his jail’s first inmate.

Just north of Clifton, in Morenci, get a tour of the open-pit copper mine. The mine is still in operation and is, in fact, the largest producer of copper in North America. 125,000 tons of copper a day!

Keep heading north, and you’ll enter the Blue Ridge Primitive Area. Stop at the Rose Peak Lookout, take a half-mile hike to the Lookout Tower and enjoy the spectacular views from Mogollon Rim. Great opportunity for a selfie!

Back on the road, you’ll continue riding along the Mogollon Rim for 17 miles. Almost at the end of the rim, you’ll see Blue Vista point. If you can’t get enough of amazing views, park your bike and check out the best Arizona has to offer: Mount Graham, Pinaleno Mountains, Blue River, and more. Did we mention you’ll be looking at all of this from an elevation of 9,000 feet?

motorcycle riders standing before sunset

Further north, stop at Hannagan Meadow for a change of scenery. As you might have guessed from the name, this is no Arizona desert landscape. This is crisp forest and meadow views. If you need a break, this might be the place for you. Hannagan Meadow Lodge and Restaurant has everything you need to relax. If you need to stretch your legs, there are many hiking trails to choose from in the area with the chance to spot wildlife such as elk, deer, wolf, bear, and bobcat.

Keep going and you’ll reach Alpine. Alpine is located in a mountain meadow surrounded by mountain peaks. The town started off in 1876 as a log house known as Fort Bush and was later established as a Mormon community. If hunting, fishing, or camping are your thing, this would be a great place to stop. There are numerous lakes and streams nearby.

Once you reach Springerville, you’ve reached the end of Coronado Trail Scenic Byway, but there’s nothing to stop you from exploring this quaint southwestern town at the northern end of Arizona. The town is located in the White Mountains with White Mountain Historical Park nearby. Visit a series of old cabins from the early 1900s. Two pioneer-era museums can give you a glimpse of the past.

Now, if you want to travel way back into the past, visit Casa Malpais, which was inhabited from 1200 to 1400AD. Casa Malpais is an archeological park near Springerville, surrounded by lava fields, which contributed to its name. It was either a translation from “House of the Badlands” (Badlands being the nearby lava fields), or because of the volcanic rock called malapai, which it’s built on. Take a guided tour into the past and explore an ancient staircase, an astronomical calendar, rock art, and more.

motorcycles driving down curved road

The Choice is Yours

You have a number of locations where you can stop to take in the views, stretch your legs with a hike, commune with the local wildlife, swim, eat, or rest. You can enjoy the road as you travel from one location to the next, taking advantage of what each place has to offer.

Or you could decide that 120 miles of twists and turns, changes of elevation, varying landscapes, and temperatures deserves to be ridden straight through. If so, then hang on to your handlebars. You’ve got 3 to 4 hours of an exhilarating drive along one of the most exciting roads for motorcycle riders.

We'll see you at the lodge! Or we'll give you a wave as you roar past!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Best Winter recreation opportunities in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forests

Best Winter Recreation Opportunities in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forests

The Apache Sitgreaves National Forests are two of the most beautiful and vast forests in the United States. With nearly three million acres of roaming woodland and mountain country, people from all over come to see the resplendent views all year round. The forest itself is situated in the states of Arizona and New Mexico and is a popular destination in the summer for people who live in the local deserts. The Mongolian Rim, a 7,600-foot mountain, has fantastic views and is one of the most admired attractions within the forest. Other very popular interests are the eight lakes and the extensive amount of wildlife that populates the area. There are estimated to be some 500 different species in the forest! The winter in Apache Sitgreaves is a popular time to visit the national park. Due to its numerous mountains and valleys, it makes for a great place to do a variety of winter activities. From snowmobiling and skiing to sledding and tubing, there are many areas one can go to have a fantastic time.

Bear Snowmobile Loop Trail

Snowmobiling is among the most popular winter activities in the Apache Sitgreaves. Enthusiasts come from far and wide to put their skills to the test in the forests and mountains of the area. One of the best places to go for this is the Bear Loop Trail. The loop runs an impressive 17.1 miles and is solely dedicated to snowmobiles. What more could you ask for if you love to snowmobile?

open fields and golden hills

Pole Knoll Recreation Area

The Pole Knoll Recreation Area is a cross country skiers dream. Within the area, there are 18 miles of trails, ranging in length from 1.3 to 6.2 miles. There are 12 different trails that are all interconnected, making the area a bit of a maze you must navigate. This is not tough to do, though, because all of them are clearly labeled. The area gets its name from a knoll which is visible from most of the trails. The area is moderately trafficked, mostly with cross country skiers but also by some people using snowshoes. The trail is moderate difficulty, so it is good for almost everyone.

Hannagan Meadow sign before Snowy fields and forest

Hannagan Meadow Recreation Area

The Hannagan Meadow Recreation Area is a multiuse trail that is a haven for the winter sports fanatic. The area has many trails catering to a variety of people. There is a dedicated snowmobile trail, along with other trails that support almost every type of activity. It is a great place for the experienced skier, with groomed trails that provide a challenge. It also boasts a lodge, which is a perfect place to stop after a day in the snow. The meadow itself has a rich history, having been explored since around the 16th century. Come here for the trails and stay for the gorgeous views from the Mogollon Rim.

man fishing on a lake

Big Lake Dam Fishing Site

Big Lake Dam is a very well-known fishing lake in the Apache Sitgreaves forests. This makes it very populated, but that should not deter you from coming here. It is a very enjoyable area due to its large size, and the ice fishing is excellent. Here, you can catch a rainbow, brook, cutthroat and even apache trout! There is a store on the ground where you can get everything from fishing gear to groceries.

Williams Valley Recreation Area

Williams Valley Recreation Area is thought to be, if not the best, one of the best places in the white mountains for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding. The area is one of the most finely maintained areas, due to it being taken care of by the Forest Service all year long. It has around five miles of trails that consist of forests and expansive meadows, giving up views one would find it hard to see anywhere else. It is not too heavily trafficked, so it is a great spot to take your family or just for a more relaxing session.

Willow Springs Lake

Willow Springs Lake is a man-made lake that was created in 1966. It is a very popular ice fishing spot due to its being stocked to the brim with trout and because it is one of the more accessible lakes in the area. The lake itself takes up nearly 150 acres of land and is at an elevation of 7,600 feet, so the winters can get pretty snowy and cold. If you can brave the chilly temperature, you will be rewarded with spectacular forest views, some of the best in the country. You do need an Arizona state fishing license to fish on the lake, so keep that in mind.

Escudilla Wilderness

The Escudilla Wilderness is a great place to go if you are looking to go winter camping. This area is pretty heavily trafficked, but during the winter months, it should be less so. The maximum size you can take onto the grounds is 25. The area is home to Escudilla Mountain, which you can view from pretty much anywhere within the park. It is at a relatively high elevation, as it is in the upper echelons of the mountains, standing at 10,912 feet. There are two trails that lead into the park, which is about a three-mile hike. Rules here are strictly enforced, so be sure that you know them all so that you do not run into any problems.

No matter what activity you enjoy partaking in during the winter season, it is obvious that the Apache Sitgreaves National Forests can ensure that you have a great time. Choose anything from cross country skiing to ice fishing and you will not be disappointed. Home to some of the most breathtaking forests and mountain views, this national forest has to be at the top of your list to come and visit.

Monday, December 9, 2019

7 Interesting Facts About Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

7 Interesting Facts About Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

Arizona is filled with endless opportunities to satisfy the adventure-seeker inside of you. Among these adventures sits the two-million-acre Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Managed by the USDA Forest Service, the Apache-Sitgreaves has everything from champion fishing, to petroglyphs, to rugged and groomed terrain, and is home to over 400-species of wildlife. Whether your adventure is to camp, bike, hike, swim, fish, or go horseback riding, the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest will have what you seek. It is a staple in Arizona and is loved by the locals.

So what makes this forest so interesting? Here are 7 interesting facts about Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

Map of Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

1. The Elevation Changes Dramatically

Since the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is on one of the wide-span landscapes in the Southwest, you can only expect there to be a difference in elevation throughout the forest. The lowest part of this vast beauty is at 3,500 ft while the summit of Mt. Baldy is a whopping 11,500 feet! While there is no access to the summit of Mt. Baldy due to it being on the White Mountain Indian Reservation, there are numerous trails that are groomed for hiking and horseback riding. One of the more popular trails—Mt. Baldy Wilderness trail—is a 16.5-mile loop and is rated as ‘easy.’ This trail will get you as close to the summit as possible, so prepare to engage your lungs and adapt yourself to the elevation change.

Mountain range beside lake

2. There is an Abundance of Water

Don’t let the Arizona desert fool you. The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is rich with water sources. It is home to 34 lakes and reservoirs and has over 680 miles of streams and rivers. Some larger rivers that wind through the forest are Little Colorado, Black, and San Francisco. Pop up a tent at over 400 camping locations and enjoy a quiet, relaxing day on the lake with friends and family. It is not difficult to find some source of water, most of the scenic trails are accompanied by at least a stream. It is a true source of beauty!

3. It’s a Top Fishing Location

Knowing that there are so many spots that have water throughout the forest, how could it not be a top fishing location in Arizona? The lakes combined boast nearly 2,000 surface acres. Some of the fish that are stocked in the lakes are Arctic Grayling, German Brown, Brook, Apache, and various types of trout.

Mountain range rock formations

4. The Trails are Endless

Whether you are an expert hiker or just a beginner, the Apache-Sitgreaves offers around 1,000 trails to choose from. Some of the more notable ones include Eagle, Blue Ridge, Escudilla, and General George Crook. These four trails are considered National Recreation Trails. There are barrier-free trails available in the forest including the Mogollon Rim and Pintail Lake Wetland. Most of these trails accommodate bikers and horseback riding in addition to hikers. During your scenic hike, you may encounter wildlife. The forest in Arizona is home to elk, antelope, deer, bighorn sheep, and turkey. Other known mammals that have been sighted are mountain lions, black bears, and the Mexican gray wolf, so be aware of your surroundings always! Kids will enjoy being around the smaller animals that consist of amphibians, songbirds, and reptiles.

5. There are a Handful of Prehistoric Sites 

You may notice artifacts scattered through the forest as you venture off onto the long trails or watch the flowing streams. These artifacts are from early settlers, some dating back to almost 12,000 years ago. There are signs of hunter-gatherer and cultivated agriculture similar to Hopi and Zuni. Along the Blue River and the Mogollon Rim, you can find rock shelters and petroglyphs. These markings were left almost 600–900 years ago by the ancestral Puebloans and Mogollon. Once these old settlers left, the Apache tribe called this forest home. After Europeans settled in, groups of fur trappers came followed by Anglo settlers. There was friction between these settlers and the Apache, so the US Army established Ft. Apache to keep both parties at peace. From that moment, other events in U.S. history played out like the mining exploitation and logging railroads. Eventually, everything settled out and today many of the logging railroads are being removed and turned into groomed trails for hiking or horseback riding.

6. It Used to be Separated

Yes, this two-million-acre spread of thick trees and beauty used to be two separate forests. The Mogollon Rim and the White Mountains were combined in 1974 and are now managed as one. The Apache-Sitgreaves is so large that it reaches into the southern edge of Colorado and west-central New Mexico. Inside the two forests, you will find different areas that can be used to track destinations and landmarks. These areas include the Blue Range Primitive Area, Springerville District, Lakeside District, Clifton District, Alpine District, and the Black Mesa District.

7. It is Named After the Founders and Tribes

The two forests were named after their settlers/founders. Once combined, they shared the name and the forest. The Apache tribe was a large part of the history in the forest. Sitgreaves forest was founded by Captain Lorenzo Sitgreaves, a topographical engineer that first ventured through Arizona in the 1850s, conducting scientific research of the area. His expedition was rigorous and time-consuming as it went down the Zuni and Colorado Rivers, Captain Lorenzo Sitgreaves contracted an illness in the line of duty and died in 1888.


Two-million acres is a lot to manage, but it is no secret that the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest holds some of Arizona’s most beautiful scenery and exciting adventures. See the scalating hikes to nearly 11,500 feet, the hot spot fishing locations, and the petroglyphs of early settlers. With these 7 interesting facts about Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, you will leave feeling energized and full of new information about its unique history.