A Walk with the Skeeters
This hike is a small town, with trees and water, equivalent of hiking the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. Located north of, and immediately adjacent to, the faux log "cabins" of the Pinetop Lakes Country Club, it is a locals' trail rather than a destination hike. If you combine it with the extensively interconnected White Mountain Trail system, you can get more distance and AEG, but at least in this segment it is still urban -- or at least as urban as Pinetop gets.
From the trailhead, turn left (south) to begin a clockwise loop. Most of the trail has some wear, so it is about 4-6 inches below the surrounding ground, and will be quite muddy after any rain. In a few minutes, you will cross Thompson Creek. It's the first of several creek crossings, but you can get across all of them without getting wet. (Even after heavy rain.) After a half mile, the trail turns west, away from FR 182 as you complete your first "climb". (All of 40 feet.) As the log "cabins" come into view, you will descend to marshy area, passing under some power lines, then crossing Billy Creek on a wood "bridge". Traffic noise from Hwy 260 will become audible.
The trail widens out along Billy Creek. Fletcher Tank is the highlight of the hike, with lots of yellow flowers. As far as the "witty" description: Because the hike is almost entirely near water, of some sort, there are mosquitoes everywhere, but especially here. You might want to spray some Off! before you start, but the skeeters are not as numerous, large or aggressive as in upper Midwest, so maybe not. After Fletcher Tank, and about 1.5 miles, the trail turns north, recrossing Billy Spring, for your second "climb" of the day. (Another 40 feet or so.)
As you descend to Thompson Creek, the traffic noise will begin to lessen, especially covered by the burbling of the water. Just after the pond, you will cross north across the water. The trail splits here: Stay right, or you will fund yourself on the connector to the Blue Ridge Loop. After the connector, you will cross back to the south bank of Thompson Creek for your penultimate 40-foot "climb" at the 3-mile mark. Cross Thompson Creek one final time, perform your final ascent, avoid the booby trap, and you will be back at the trailhead in under 90 minutes.
This probably took me longer to write than it will take you to hike it. Basically, if you are from out of town, use it for the same reason I did: As a way to get in a few quick miles, to warm you up for bigger things, and to acclimate to the elevation.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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