The Best Hikes in Alpine

1,964 Triplog Reviews in the Alpine
Most recent of 731 deeper Triplog Reviews
9.97 mi • 2,325 ft aeg
Wild and Blue
Way across town a phone rings off the wall
If you know he ain't home why do you keep callin'
You're gonna drive yourself crazy and you know that it's true
It's making you wild and blue


With apologies to John Anderson, this hike was to the summit of Maple Peak (elevation of 8,294 feet and prominence of 2,374 feet), in the wild and wooley Blue Range Primitive Area of eastern Arizona. Maple Peak is in Greenlee County and is about 3 miles from the Arizona-New Mexico border.

The Blue Range Primitive Area is a remote area containing some of the most pristine countryside left in Arizona. Black bear and Mexican grey wolves are common in the area, and hikers are rarely seen.

I did not have much beta for this hike, but the triplog and GPX track that @azhiker456 posted was quite helpful.

The drive to the Charlie Moore TH (at a crumple gate on the AZ-NM state line) was on a well-graded road that any SUV can easily drive. However, I would recommend a high clearance 4WD vehicle drive through the crumple gate on FR 712.

I drove about 1/2 mile past the gate and decided to park at a convenient pullout. The road had some rough and rocky sections, and I did not know the condition of the road had I continued. As it turned out, the road got better and I could easily have driven another 3/4 mile or so. The road walk was easy and was a good warm-up, so I did not mind the road hiking.

We went 1.8 miles on the road and then left the road onto the trail. The trail was mostly easy to follow, but we lost it 2-3 times but were able to pick it back up with the help of the GPS track. We followed the trail almost all the way to the summit, but we had to do some fairly easy bushwhacking for a short distance to get to the summit.

Views were great at the summit so we hung out there for a bit. The weather was super which made the summit stop that much more enjoyable. We returned to the TH the same way that we came up.

We saw a coyote run across the road ahead of us in the first part of the hike, but that was it for wildlife. I saw bear scat on the trail in a number of places though.

Synopsis
I thought that this was a great hike -- it was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Both the drive to the TH and the hike were easier than expected. If I lived closer, I would do this hike a few times a year I think.
4.4 mi • 712 ft aeg
After work hike. 35 degrees at the start. Summited at dusk, then added a partial descent and re-ascent for more elevation. Saw the California satellite launch on the horizon at dusk, pretty cool to see framed in pine silhouettes. A chunk of basalt took me down on the hike back. Flagstaff to Whiteriver to Pinetop to Tucson plus working all in one day, tiring but fun.
6.42 mi • 889 ft aeg
There are many use trails mixed among the named & numbered trails. Some of them more obvious than the official trails. The difference is that the path of official trails is marked by blue diamonds. The only difference in color, or shape, is for difficulty, which follows skiing convention. Personally, for hiking, I would rate no trail more than moderate.

Pole Knoll Trail #602 is old jeep trail for ⅓ mile. The trail then splits: Right is more casual strolling, while left is rather rocky. I went left. Rated “difficult”, it was similar to hiking a Mogollon Rim creek bottom (minus the deadfall). The rocky section is only 150 yds. long. If you mind your footing, no problem. 👣

Back on old jeep trail, at ¾ miles I split left onto Grouse Trail #602G. Just short of a mile, the trail splits again: Go right. 250 yds. later is an x-intersection: Go straight across. If you get onto the wrong trail, like I sometimes did, don’t worry: With all the signs, it’s hard to get lost.

At 1¼ mile, I split left onto singletrack Viewpoint Trail #602H. Just after the split was another short section of fall color in even less mature aspen. Just babies — like the tiny horned lizard I almost stepped on. Viewpoint switchbacks up 300 ft. in ¾ mile. My recent hikes up North Mountain paid off, as even over 9,000 ft. elevation, Viewpoint was no problem.

The top of Viewpoint Trail #602H is marked by double blue diamonds. Left Viewpoint continues; right is a contour-following use trail. To summit Pine Knoll, split the difference, heading off-trail, up through mixed grass and cinders. (Pole Knoll is an old volcano.) In 250 yds., there is a false summit, which has awesome views southwest to Sunrise Ski Area. 🤗

From the false summit, it is 150 yds. along a semi-fenced aspen grove to Pole Knoll’s true summit. Overall, the climb is only 250 ft. I searched for a benchmark, but only found tangled wires. Perhaps from a height-of-light. No geocache or summit log either. The only item of interest was a small open-sided structure in the aspen grove, which appeared to be neither a hunting blind nor shelter.

My GPS was low on battery, and I’d forgot my extras back at the trailhead. Nothing in my pack either, as I’d left that at home in favor of a Camelbak. Pole Knoll Recreation Area is so mellow & enjoyable, I didn’t need the weight of all that extra stuff. Instead of dawdling, I headed down with a quickness back to the double blue diamond. 🔹🔹

Viewpoint Trail #602H continues around the north and east slope of Pole Knoll. Summiting from that area would suck, due to all the aspen deadfall on the upper slope. However, it was the shadiest part of a mostly shady hike. At just over 3 miles, Viewpoint Trail widens to jeep trail, seemingly heading right. Instead, split left.

The t-intersection of Summit Trail #602J is 150 yds. further. The obvious route, left, is the way you should go. I could barely make out a trail to the right. It must reveal itself during cross-country skiing season. Summit Trail seemed steeper than Viewpoint Trail, but looking at the route profile, I guess it is the same. Not sure why it is called "Summit Trail" as it does not go anywhere near the top of Pole Knoll.

Throughout my hike, the dirt and clay of the trail surface was moist, but not wet or muddy. Just enough to get me dirty when I got down for my flower photo closeups.

Just over 4 miles, Summit Trail #602J turns left. (Right is Elk Trail #602I.) After 200 more yards, I turned right onto Osprey Trail #602C. The surrounding terrain was much more open, but there was still plenty of shade. At 4⅔ miles, I split left onto Raven Trail #602B.

Finally, at just under 5 miles, I turned left back onto Pole Knoll Trail #602 for the final half mile back to the trailhead. I got a bit confusing there, between jeep trail, singletrack and the trailhead access road. Regardless, you are heading the correct direction.

I really enjoyed hiking through the mixed aspen, ponderosa, conifer and small, sunny, meadows of Pole Knoll Recreation Area! 👍

Hike Video: https://vimeo.com/756151276

Wildflowers
Beautiful fleabane, western yarrow, Wheeler's thistle, alpine leafybract aster, mullein, hairy golden aster, harebell, fetid goosefoot & silvery lupine.
16.16 mi • 2,433 ft aeg
Been thinking about running this loop since starting marathon training, and everything worked out perfectly. Started from the east TH a few mins before the sunrise, temp was below 50, kept my long-sleeve shirt on for much of the morning. Turned on Crossover right away, lots of dew and muddy sections in the grassy fields. Annoyed a pair of hunters scoping out elk. West Fork trail was really enjoyable, the steady climb and open views under the still-early sun was fantastic. When the trail entered the forest and the grade steepened I slowed to a walk... I might have been able to keep up a slow job, but the altitude was starting to mess with me. Trail junction meant all downhill, so I opened up the throttle and cruised down East Fork. There was one section along here with 10-20 deadfall obstacles, everything else was perfect. Think I want to move to Greer now.
7.69 mi • 526 ft aeg
Wanted to check off something a little on the shorter side, and a walk along a creek sounded fun, so headed down to Thompson TH. Thompson Trail was nice, and very, very wet. Got distracted by raspberries a few times. Just 2.5 miles to West Fork trail, so it went by pretty quickly.

Decided to add on the 628A/630 loop, since it was on my map. Started up 628A, it was a bit hard to find the path along the short stretch of the Black River, but once in the side drainage (flowing, like everything right now), it was straightforward.

Couldn't find where I was supposed to turn west, so I headed up to a feature that looked logical, and where the line on my GPS was showing. Found the trail there, but it quickly headed into a burn scar. I was following what was definitely a path of sorts, but it faded into a meadow, so I headed upslope towards where the line on my map was. There I found a road grade (or the old RR grade?), and route finding was not an issue the rest of the way. The burned area had some very nice raspberry picking.

The rest of the way was uneventful, but featured many distractions in the form of more tasty-looking raspberries. Only saw one person out there, although there were three extra vehicles at the trailhead when I got there.
1.96 mi • 683 ft aeg
Pierce Mountain
The off trail was brutal. Shorts were not a good option. My trip down was much better then the blood letting route up. Once into the pines, it was much better. The hike thru prickers was not fun. There is a trail that goes around the mountain which I utilized at the start and finish. Something periodically screamed. I think it may have been a bobcat but never saw what it was. The spring box at the start was overflowing. At the end of the trail, a scaredy tried to stare me down.
7.78 mi • 822 ft aeg
Did the loop in a counter clockwise direction. The section north of FR249E and the western side of the trail were fairly shady but the middle part was through a burn area with no shade. The tread was great for hiking at a steady pace and there were no steep sections. The latter third of the hike was through an aspen nursery (my words), where the young trees grew very close together. The last mile got shady again. Saw only one other hiker on the trail on a Saturday.
4.97 mi • 502 ft aeg
We combined the Thompson Trail #629 and the West Fork Trail #628 - Black River for a one way shuttle hike starting at the Thompson Trail TH. The Thompson Trail lived up to its reputation as a beautiful hike. As a result it was fairly busy with other hikers. We had originally planned to include the 628-630 loop to make the hike longer but it was getting warm and the loop did not look very shady from where we were at the junction of 628 and 629 so we skipped it. We climbed out on 628 just before the rain started. On the way back to Greer for lunch it poured. There was even sleet on AZ273 near the West Baldy trailhead.
3.88 mi • 1,145 ft aeg
Escudilla Trail hike. With the rain last night, I wondered how wet it would be. Not bad at all, even the dirt road in was only damp. Started at 6:30am so I'd avoid any storms. Figure I'd be safe until about noon, but I don't want to take a chance on getting caught on the mountain in a thunderstorm.
Wildlife...saw 3 wild turkeys run across the road on the way in, 4-6 elk on the edge of the bowl on top of the mountain, several deer, and a couple grouse. Wish I could've gotten photo of all of them, but it's hard to capture a moving target.

The trail itself is not that hard. Well-marked, a gradual uphill climb. You start in aspens for about the first 3/4 mile to mile, then break out of the trees near the edge of the bowl near the top. My "high point" was at 10,742' about 1.5 miles in. This is where I saw several elk and a couple deer. The difficulty is the elevation. Starting at 9,600', you gradually climb. I made quite a few stops on the way up to catch my breath. It ain't a race, it's there for enjoyment. Once you drop into the bowl, you see a number of burned-out trees from previous fires (I think 1951 and 2011). Going through a meadow, you'll climb to the old fire lookout/observation tower. I turned back after 1.94 miles, figuring I wouldn't see any more from the base of the tower than I'd already seen.

I'd really looked forward to this hike with anticipation, and I wasn't disappointed. Both with the scenery and the sense of accomplishment for finishing. I didn't know how I'd perform at 10,000'+. The altitude will get you, even if you're in good shape. Between the scenery, the wildlife, and views, it's a great hike. Just be prepared for any storms that might blow in. I had rain gear, water, Gatorade and granola bars just in case.

Finished at 9am. I ran into another man and his daughter near the trailhead as I was finishing. They were the only people I saw. Just the way I like it. 🙂
2.5 mi • 120 ft aeg
The drive to this was the adventure. A spaghetti bowl of reservation roads that is like a never ending maze. I missed in a previous triplog that the gate to forest was locked at one end. On our way out guess which way we went? We did a big hike the day before so we just hung out up top instead of venturing down. It was an amazing day out in the wild. A map is a must!
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