White Mountains Online

Introduction to Alpine Ranger District Hiking & Trails


Arizona's White Mountains

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With over 200 miles of trails in settings that range from high country forests to rocky desert canyons, the Alpine District of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests offers hiking opportunities for just about any level of conditioning and any area of interest. Those miles are spread over scores of trails which lead through a variety of settings including two wilderness areas, the nation's last remaining National Forest primitive area, and a mountain river canyon known as one of the most scenic in the southwest. Along these pleasant paths you'll be keeping company with fields full of wildflowers and some of the largest stands of virgin timber in the southwestern U. S. You'll find diverse populations of wild animals here too, in numbers plentiful enough that you can't help but bump into a few of them every now and then.

In the canyons of the Blue Primitive Area and the Bear Wallow Wilderness native trout swim in cool flowing streams that nurture green oases. You may choose to do a little swimming of your own here, and if you come during the spring you'll be serenaded by the wide variety of songbirds that frequent this rare but productive habitat. These canyons are home to mountain lions and black bear, too. You'll want to watch the trail dust for their tracks and scan the rocky cliffs for their fleeting shadows.

If a fishing pole is part of your hiking equipment, you won't want to miss the trails of the Black River Corridor. These scenic paths also provide excellent places to watch for wildlife as you spend a week or an afternoon along this picturesque stream. Escudilla, the state's third highest mountain, rounds out the hiking picture on the Alpine District with great fall colors, lots of watchable wildlife and some of the most expansive views in the state.

With all the trails you have to choose from on the Alpine District you can put together just about any type of excursion that suits you. "This country can be as remote as you want it to be," one devotee has said. "You can get lost in it for a week and, when the urge hits, you can be out in a day."

By far the best place to put together long backpacks is in the Blue Primitive Area. Plenty of main trails and lots of connectors make it possible to wander here for days without seeing the same place twice. This is especially true in the eastern reaches of the Blue where remoteness is high and visitation is low.

If you prefer to do your hiking one day at a time, all of the trails in the Escudilla Wilderness and the Black River Area can easily be covered in a day. The same goes for the shorter trails in the Bear Wallow Wilderness, where there are several possibilities for loop hikes, especially if you set up a shuttle.

Some of the trails in the Blue Primitive Area are too long to hike in a day, unless you're in very good shape, but even those trails provide good day trips if you don't mind returning to your car the same way you came. Several connector trails make it possible to set up a number of loop hikes here too.

Take Me A long

Whether you hike up in the high country or down in the canyons, weather and other conditions are unpredictable enough on the Alpine District that you should always come prepared for a variety of possibilities. Carry more water and food than you think you'll need and bring sufficient clothes to be ready for an unexpected change in the weather. Of course, you should never be without a good first aid kit that you know how to use. It should include sunscreen and moleskin well as provisions for more severe problems. Last but not least, make it a practice to sign trailhead registers and let someone know where you've gone.

It Never Fails

Just about the time you're so far from "civilization" that you think anyone who has worked this hard to get this far out would respect it enough to take care of it,...that's when you run onto a piece of litter. One could be an optimist and think it was an accident, or one could believe that someone just hasn't got the message yet. Get the message! Trash belongs back there in dumpsters, not out here on the trail. Practice "No Trace" hiking and camping.

White Mountains Online wishes to express our appreciation to the USDA Forest Service, Alpine District for providing this information! If you would like additional information on the Alpine Trails. Please contact the Alpine Ranger District at (520) 339-4384 or you may write at P.O. Box 469 Alpine AZ, 85920

For current information on trail conditions, please contact the Alpine Ranger District:
P.O. Box 469
Alpine, AZ 85920
(520) 339-4384