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Pole Knoll Recreation Area, AZ

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Guide 27 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Alpine > Eagar S
2.7 of 5 by 6
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 6.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,900 feet
Elevation Gain 303 feet
Accumulated Gain 388 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2-3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.14
Backpack No
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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5  2015-08-29 sbkelley
5  2014-09-14 black_toes
13  2014-05-26 John9L
26  2013-01-02
White Mountains Winter 2013
9  2012-02-11 writelots
7  2010-01-31 azbackpackr
5  2009-12-31 azbackpackr
1  2008-05-31 Mr Sensitivity
Page 1,  2,  3
Author azbackpackr
author avatar Guides 26
Routes 365
Photos 4,732
Trips 720 map ( 5,214 miles )
Age 66 Female Gender
Location Flag-summer-Needles-winter
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:02am - 6:22pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
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Culture Nearby
A maze in the forest
by azbackpackr

Likely In-Season!
This area was originally designed as a cross country ski area back in the 80's, by a forest service employee from the Springerville Ranger District who wanted to be able to ski after work. Bob Dyson, the public information official for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, told me this. An old acquaintance of mine, I ran into him at the trailhead one day, and we skied the Pole Knoll 6.2 mile loop together. He also told me that during the 80's there was a lot more snow on a regular basis.

Pole Knoll Recreation Area has 18 miles of inter-looping trails of varying degrees of difficulty. It is important to note that these trails all have different names! There are usually maps available to take with you in the sign-in box at the kiosk, and there is also a map posted on the kiosk bulletin board. There are blue diamond markers on the trees marking the routes, and there are wooden signs with the trail names at all the intersections. It can be kind of confusing when you first visit the area... almost like a maze. Some of the mileages are as follows: Pole Knoll Loop, 6.2 miles, beginner/intermediate. Meadowlark Loop, 2.16 miles, beginner. Red Tail/Osprey/Raven loop 1.2 miles, beginner. Summit, 4.2 miles round trip, intermediate/expert. The Forest Service puts total mileage for the area at 18 miles. The elevation ranges between 8900' and 9600'.

The area is mixed forest, with large Ponderosa pine trees, aspens and Douglas fir. There are meadows here and there, and sometimes during the summer wet season there is a small pond along the Meadowlark loop, which attracts elk and other wildlife. During the winter elk, deer, fox and coyote tracks are commonly seen in the snow.

In the summer, Pole Knoll Recreation Area is suitable for mountain biking and hiking, but be aware that not all the trails exist when there is no snow on the ground! Some of the trails that do exist in summer are the Meadowlark loop, the Summit Trail, Raven, Osprey, Pine Jay, and Red Tail. The Pole Knoll loop is partially a cross-country route during the summer. Pole Knoll, 9793', is on the "Big List" of rated Arizona peaks, and has a sign-in register in the cairn on the top. Please note there is NO TRAIL to the top, but it's easy to find with map and compass, or GPS. There is a great view from the summit. Don't make the mistake I did the first time and climb the knoll next to it! Due to the thick forest I was unable to see there was a higher knoll nearby, which was the actual Pole Knoll. The Summit Trail does NOT go to the summit of Pole Knoll, but to the smaller knoll.

For beginning skiers I would recommend skiing a loop of about one mile that starts at the trailhead with the Red Tail trail, then left on Osprey, then left on Raven and back to the trailhead. Also the Meadowlark loop is pretty flat. The Summit Trail is really fun if you are a pretty good skier. You ski approximately 2 miles to the top of a knoll (not Pole Knoll, but the smaller one next to it) and back down again. There is one very steep, but short, run on this trail, which can be dangerous when icy. I do not recommend the Viewpoint trail for anything but hiking. It has a lot of deadfall that can't easily be negotiated on a bike or skis. It is also very steep in places.

The Pole Knoll 6.2 mile loop very seldom retains enough snow for skiing because it passes along the edges of the big meadows, which tend to melt very fast. It's fun to ski if you can hit it at just the right time.

The Squirrel Springs Cross Country Ski area off Highway 373, in Greer, has a link trail that connects to Pole Knoll. However, this is not very easy to locate, and very seldom has had enough snow to cross the open meadow linking the two areas during the 6 years I have been skiing here. Also I have discovered that Squirrel Springs melts off much more quickly than Pole Knoll.

The Springerville Ranger District recently purchased a trail grooming machine. They usually groom the Red Tail/Raven/Osprey loop. I expect when there is enough snow they will groom some of the other loops as well, such as Meadowlark or Pole Knoll.

I recommend this area for beginning and intermediate skiers and mountain bikers. As for hikers, it's really for beginners. Those whose skills are more advanced, be they skiers, mountain bikers or hikers, will not find this area to be very challenging. However it is still fun, very pretty and it is easy to get to, no need for four-wheel drive. The trailhead is signed on Highway 260, 16 miles west of the Eagar stoplight. For more information call the Springerville Ranger District at (928) 333-4372. I have always found their staff to be very friendly and helpful.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2006-03-15 azbackpackr
    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.

    Most recent of 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Pole Knoll Recreation Area
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    Team Buford was having some issues getting their truck started so Liz and I headed over to the railroad track for a quick mountain bike ride. I borrowed Chumley’s bike and Liz brought her own. Our plan was to ride for a couple of hours and then regroup with everyone before heading back to Phoenix.

    We started the ride and found the trail to be more trouble than it was worth. It meanders across a wide open area and got boring real quick. After a couple of miles we regrouped to talk about our options. I noticed Pole Knoll off in the distance and Liz was down. We continued riding another mile and then stopped and locked up the bikes. From there we went cross country towards the large knoll. After roughly a mile we started the climb up. It was a bit steep but very straightforward. We continued up and before long things leveled off and we proceeded to the high point.

    Once on top we took a break and soaked in the views. Sunrise Ski Resort was off in the distance and we could see for miles. It was a clear and warm today. A nice change from the previous three days weather. While on top we found a register and signed ourselves in. It goes back to 2001 and we didn’t find any HAZ entries. We also found the benchmark which was placed in 1936.

    After our break we started the return and it was much easier heading down hill. Along the way Liz had to stop to document her 10,000 step of the day. :D Soon after we arrived back at the bikes and then rode back to the trailhead. Our timing was just about perfect because Chumley and Team Buford got the truck running and were on their way. We stopped at the Pinetop Brewery and then returned to Phoenix.

    This capped a really fun, and cold, weekend! Thanks Liz for the bike ride and quick summit!
    Pole Knoll Recreation Area
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    White Mountains Winter 2013
    White Mountains Winter 2013

    I needed to feel some snow beneath my feet - so having heard from my neighbors Terry and Giselle about their New Year's trek to Sunrise Ski Park (check out => ), I thought a couple of days in the White Mountains would be "just the ticket". I couldn't take advantage of my Marriott Rewards or Priority Club Rewards booking a hotel since none of their hotels in the vicinity of the White Mountains are "pet friendly". Luckily the Best Western in Eagar AZ will accept dogs in the room, so we had our base camp.

    Wednesday 1/2 - Arrived in the White Mountains late morning via Hwy 260 with our first stop near Sunrise Ski Park and FR112 and the Railroad Grade Trail #601 (see => ). Lots of snow fun on the slopes of the Railroad Grade. FR117 was unplowed so our afternoon plans to explore Green's Peak and the Four Knolls (see => ) were thwarted. Our back-up plan was to explore trails near the village of Greer. Mini-hikes on West Fork Trail #94 and Butler Canyon Trail #98 (see => and ) and exploring some real estate poking around the village. You can see the scarred forest and how close it came to torching all of Greer from last summer's Wallow Fire (see => ... r-arizona/ and ). We ended the day with a sunset hike of the G&F Grasslands (see => ). Grasslands lived up to the hype for surefire wildlife encounters as we met up with a herd of mule deer.

    Thursday 1/3 - After a frigid night, arrived at the South Fork Trail #97 (see => ) trail head with my truck thermometer indicating 19degF (neglected to get photo evidence, but did capture the noon time temperature of 23degF). We hiked the 3 miles to the bridge with the dogs enjoying the snow. Once again scars from the Wallow Fire could be seen along the hiking route. Next up was Pole Knoll (see => ). Hiking was challenging post-holing your route beside the set track for cross country skiing. I was very impressed with the skiing conditions at Pole Knoll - makes me want to break out my skis! We Wrapped up our White Mountain tour with some photo ops at Horseshoe Cienega (see => ) and Los Burros (see => ). We had a late day dinner in Show Low and returned home via Hwy 60.
    Pole Knoll Recreation Area
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    Snow report: Slightly icy but it will hold your weight so you can avoid the ugly groomed areas and snowshoe tracks.

    I met with a family I know and helped them learn to ski. It was pretty fun! The conditions had iced up a bit since I was last up there. I actually post only a fraction of the time I go up there.

    Snowshoers please stay out of the ski tracks. The Forest Service has received so many complaints about this phenomenon that they have actually put up signs!
    Pole Knoll Recreation Area
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    This has to be the best snow we've had since I moved up here 10 years ago. I started on the Pole Knoll Loop trail, which I don't usually ski when i go to Pole Knoll, due to the fact that most of the time it is not skiable--too many bare spots out in those big meadows.

    But today was sweet. I started out following someone else's tracks. The FS has groomed part of the area, but thankfully not the whole loop. I dislike groomed trails. Once I got around behind the knoll, the skier who made the tracks took off up the mtn. I decided to follow the Pole Knoll loop itself, and found that breaking trail was easy and fast. The best surface for this sport is packed snow with a little loose stuff on top. I slid along pretty well.

    Out in those big meadows it is so beautiful. You can see Sunrise slopes, but no one else is around. Some snowmobilers off in the distance, but no one else. To follow this loop you really have to pay attention to the signs, which are far apart, and the blue tags on trees. Sometimes they are far apart, and that is when I was glad I had done it before, because otherwise I might have gotten a bit confused. Once I got back into the woods and within a mile and a half of the parking lot, the groomed trail was there, so I followed it. It just has no esthetic appeal, and is also kind of rough and slippery. I was not impressed. Some people do like it, though, I guess.

    I am guiding a trip here on Superbowl Sunday. We'll be meeting at Bashas' in Eagar at 9 a.m. Arrive ready to ski! I will post it as an event, and it's also on ABC.
    Pole Knoll Recreation Area
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    Today was the best day I've seen at this ski area in quite awhile. However, I did find that the Pole Knoll Loop trail had thin spots. It is often not skiable, if that is a word. I found a fun little hill and herringboned up it about 6 times so I could ski down it. Great snow today.
    Pole Knoll Recreation Area
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    I skied here Friday, yesterday and today. Today I tried going west on the Pole Knoll Loop, but when I got to the edge of the forest there was a major ground blizzard out on the open grasslands, so I turned around and skied back, skied part-way up Summit Trail, then down that and along Osprey. I wanted to catch a little bit of downhill, and for that you have to ski uphill first!

    This area should be holding snow for quite awhile. If you want to shoot me a PM to ask me about it I will try to help. It's only 13 miles from my house! As for Greer, today I went over that way first to check out Squirrel Springs. That place just does not hold snow very long, and had lots of bare spots. Plus, they never bothered to plow the entry road, so there was no good place to park except on the snowy, soft shoulder of 373. I still haven't skied there yet. The two ski areas have one trail, the Aspen Trail that connect them, but I doubt if there is often enough snow to make the journey.
    Pole Knoll Recreation Area
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    We headed up the "Summit Trail" to the "Viewpoint Trail".

    They appear to be thinning out the forest near the base of the hill, so it's not as picturesque. Higher up on the hill it gets much more dense and natural.

    But once we gained some elevation we couldnt find a good break in the trees for any great photos of the area. On the plus side there were lots of aspen trees that will make great fall pics and the raspberry bushes near the trail were full.
    Pole Knoll Recreation Area
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    Good skiing here today! I went up the summit trail. Sometimes that trail gets a little scary, when it's icy, but today there was about a foot of powder. I broke trail going up, got a little workout, skied in my own track going down. Fun!

    Someone has parked their sleigh there. There were sleigh tracks in the snow. I guess they are planning to use it again tomorrow. There was nobody there when I was there, though. I had the place all to myself.
    Pole Knoll Recreation Area
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    I went up to ski before work this past Wed. Dec. 20. The conditions were a bit marginal. The snow was deep enough in some places, and not deep enough in others! When I did find areas of deep enough snow I could get going pretty fast, yet under control, because it was so cold, with powder on top. I just wish we could get a good solid base with a couple of inches of powder on top like two years ago. But it keeps melting off between storms. We are supposed to get more snow tonight, so hopefully it will improve the conditions! When you scrape on sticks and pine cones it really slows you down. And of course, rocks are just bad for your skis!

    There are always lots of deer and elk tracks in the snow. Not too many human ones! It's nice to have the snowy woods to oneself. It is very cold in the early morning, probably around 0 degrees, though, so you'll need all your layers, and mitten shells, too! And don't forget to wear gaiters! I'm always surprised when I see cross country skiers with no gaiters on! I wore fleece pants (one layer), a long underwear shirt, a fleece shirt, a down vest and a goretex outer jacket. Not a huge amount of clothing, and it was so cold I never had to shed any of it! I also wore a balaclava instead of a beanie. (We're talking hats here, to you non-snow people!) I skied as fast as I know how in order to warm up, had to stop and put on the mitten shells because my fingertips were so cold! After about 10 minutes of exertion I got very comfortable, though. Later on, in the afternoon, it would have been warmer, but the skiing is usually better when it's pretty cold. Your skis will stick if it's too warm, at least, mine do--I have the no-wax kind. Oh, and also, to the newbies, if you know you will have warm conditions you can spray silicone (from the hardware store) on the skis. It makes no-wax skis pretty slippery!
    Pole Knoll Recreation Area
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    Skiing at Pole Knoll can be a bit iffy. It was iffy yesterday, Nov 30, when I went up after work. I started out at about 4:45 p.m. and skied for an hour. The snow was not quite deep enough in places--I kept scraping on things. Since this particular storm, which came in on Wed., was very cold the snow conditions were otherwise pretty good. Not sticky at all, pretty much all powder, so when the going was good and I wasn't scraping on things I got to gliding along pretty well. There were no other ski tracks, and but I did see two sets of human footprints, and lots of elk and deer tracks. It is nice to be in the snowy woods alone on a cold, quiet evening. I know the area pretty well, but stuck to an easy loop.

    I had heard there would be more snow up at Green's Peak, and thought I'd go there this evening, but I seem to have caught a cold! The weather is starting to warm up, and this snow will be mostly gone soon. Yesterday morning at sunrise it was 0 degrees on my porch in Eagar. This morning it was 12 degrees. It will probably be in the balmy 20s by tomorrow morning!

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Phoenix take Hwy 77 to Payson. Turn right on Highway 260, proceed to Show Low. Drive straight through town, follow the signs for Hwy 60 to Springerville, 46 miles from Show Low. Turn right (west) at Springerville's only stoplight, proceed 2 miles to Eagar. Turn right at the light in Eagar, onto Hwy 260. Go 13 miles, watch for the brown sign for Pole Knoll--it will be a left turn. The trailhead is located where this road deadends, about 1/4 mile from 260. There are restrooms and picnic tables with ramadas at the trailhead. If you are driving east on Hwy 260 from Pinetop the trailhead will be approximately 5.6 miles past the Sunrise turnoff. (Stay on 260, don't turn at the Sunrise turnoff.)
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