White Mountains Online

Terry Flat Loop


Arizona's White Mountains

Elevation: 9,600' to 9,900'

Length: 6 miles

Season: May through October

Rating: Easy

Use: Moderate

Attractions: This beautiful ride rolls along over a little-used forest road that loops around the high meadows of Arizona's third highest mountain. There's a lot of wildlife to see, plentiful wildflowers, and great scenery. Huge stands of aspen make this an exceptionally scenic ride through September and into early October. If you're a beginner, or a little out of shape, this is a great place to warm up for some of the more strenuous rides on the district. If you're a stump jumping veteran, you'll want to come here too because of the magnificent scenery.

The ride skirts the edge of a huge meadow perched on a plateau one level down from the mountain's summit. It follows a moderately rough forest road that is open to motorized vehicles but traffic is generally very light. As the ride traces the edge of the large central meadow, it wanders in and out of forested areas that extend into the meadow's grassy interior. These shady nooks not only offer a change of pace to the to the generally open character of the ride, they also provide an opportunity to happen upon some of the mountain's resident wildlife. Watch for elk, mule deer and black bear. Grizzlies once lived here too, but you won't see them anymore. As a matter of a fact the big bears held out on Escudilla longer than anywhere else in the state. The last grizzly in Arizona was killed here in 1939 at a cow carcass booby trapped by a government trapper.

Access: Drive 5.5 miles north from Alpine on U.S. 191 (formerly U.S. 666) to FR 56. Turn right on FR 56 and follow it 4.5 miles to Terry Flat. Take the left fork past Tool Box Draw 0.5 miles to parking lot at the Escudilla National Recreation Trail trailhead.

Ride Log: The Terry Flat Loop begins where the road splits to circle the meadow. You can ride either way, but there seems to be more down and less up if you start out to the left.
A number of spur roads radiating out from the loop lead to the rim of the plateau and offer panoramic overlooks of the surrounding country. These pleasant detours also make for great lunch spots. One of the best is in the vicinity of Terry Flat Lake, a shallow wetland that is about two miles clockwise from the trailhead.
If you're looking for a more strenuous workout you may want to start at the point where FR 56 turns off U.S. 191. This adds 4.5 miles and 1,400 feet of climbing to the beginning of the ride and the same amount of hair raising downhill to the end of it.

Notes: While you're riding in the area you might want to hike up the Escudilla National Recreation Trail to the top of the third highest mountain in Arizona, but you can't take your bike.
No motorized or mechanical vehicles (including mountain bikes) are permitted in the Wilderness that covers the top of the mountain.