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Big Springs Environmental Study Area

A scenic natural area with self-guided trails located in Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona.


Self-guided nature trails: Hike the 1/2 mile improved loop trail that wanders through Big Springs. The trail winds through ponderosa pines and riparian meadows, and takes you to two streams and a spring-fed pond. Informative signs along the trail explain about the natural history, plants, and wildlife of Big Springs. Hiking here is easy, and several benches along the trail allow for resting and appreciating the view.

Learn about the various important wildlife habitats: Many valuable habitats important to wildlife may be seen at Big Springs. Trail signs will help you recognize them and understand why they are important.

  • Riparian areas/streams
  • Springs
  • Ponderosa pine forest
  • Wetlands and Meadows
  • Snags

Nature Study and observation:While at Big Springs you may enjoy many activities relating to nature study and observation.

  • Photography
  • Wildlife observation
  • Plant identification
  • Animal track/sign identification
  • Interpretive wildlife programs

Flora & Fauna:

Due to the great variety of habitats found at Big Springs, many different plants and animals may be observed here.


Red-tailed Hawk Bald Eagle Turkey Vulture Stellar's Jay
Kestrel Osprey Mallard Common Raven
Green-winged Teal Great Horned Owl American Wigeon Pygmy Nuthatch
Canvasback Pintail Acorn Woodpecker American Robin
Hairy Woodpecker American Coot Scrub Jay Dark-eyed Junco
White-breasted Nuthatch Bufflehead Western Bluebird American Goldfinch
Mountain Chickadee Gadwall Ruby-crowned Kinglet Evening Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird Lewis' Woodpecker Western Tanager Northern Oriole


Abert's Squirrel Elk
Raccoon Striped Skunk
Black Bear Coyote
Mule Deer Muskrat
Gray Fox Big Brown Bat

Reptiles & Amphibians:

Gopher Snake Arizona Black Rattlesnake
Narro-headed Garter Snake Collared Lizard
Red-spotted Toad Western Spadefoot Toad
Striped Whipsnake Fence Lizard
Short-horned Lizard Great Plains Skink
Chorus Frog Leopard Frog


Ponderosa Pine Alligator Juniper Rocky Mountain Juniper Aspen
Prickly Pear Cactus Watercress Cattail Wild Iris
Gambel Oak Utah Juniper Pinyon Pine Narrow-leaf Yucca
Red Willow Blue Grama Grass Yarrow Wild Onion


Big Springs Environmental Study Area is 40 acres of natural open spaces located within the town limits of Pinetop-Lakeside. The hustle and bustle of town is forgotten as you step into the trees and meadows of Big Springs.

Big Springs has been developed as an outdoor study area and recreation site for use by local schools, the community, and visitors to the White Mountains. It has been preserved in a natural state by the concerned residents of Pinetop-Lakeside in order to promote an environmental education program for students in the White Mountains.

Big Springs helps all who visit become aware of and appreciate the rich natural history of the White Mountains.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Forest Service, Blue Ridge School District, and town of Pinetop-Lakeside have worked together as partners to make Big Springs a quality natural area that invites the visitor to relax, learn, and enjoy.

Many improvements at Big Springs were funded by the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Heritage Fund & Watchable Wildlife Program. The Heritage Fund was established in 1990 by a vote from the people of Arizona. It provides lottery funds for maintaining and restoring the richness and diversity of Arizona's wildlife through management, education, protection, and public access enhancement. The Watchable Wildlife Program is supported by contributions from you on your Arizona State Tax form. These donations help fund wildlife management and public appreciation of Arizona's nongame wildlife. Please make a contribution on your tax form!

Scenic Attractions