I have done the hike up to Pine Mountain twice, once in the 1980's by myself and again on October 6, 2002 with five others. Both times I have done the loop counterclockwise (the opposite of the route described by Teva in his trail summary). The first time was before the forest fires. The forest was green. There was water in the creek for a considerable distance - up as far as Willow Spring, if my memory is correct. The second time, there was no water after Nelson Place Spring. The forest was blackened. The ground charred. But still the vistas from the top were superb. However, we did encounter a black bear on the way back down. The bear was feeding in the brush near Nelson Place Spring, only about a half mile from the trailhead. Maybe this was the same bear seen by Lizard on his April 29, 2002 hike report. This was the first bear I have seen in the wild in Arizona in 25 years of hiking and backpacking. I have uploaded a photo of the bear.
Do go up to the top of Pine Mountain. It is only 200 or 300 feet of additional hiking off the main trail on a well defined spur trail. In his trail summary, Teva states that later in the hike, after passing Pine Mountain, he was hiking on a trail higher than Pine Mountain and could look back and down on the peak. This is only partly true.
According to the topo, Pine Mountain is 6814. The high point south-southeast of the peak is 6810, so the trail is not higher than Pine Mountain, but even the boys hiking with us were tall enough to look down on Pine Mountain from the 6810 point (which also offers a wonderful vista). I have uploaded a photo of the topo map.