The Best Hikes in Alpine

1,971 Triplog Reviews in the Alpine
Most recent of 721 deeper Triplog Reviews
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.
6.6 mi • 1,666 ft aeg
 Been trying to find other spots in Arizona for extreme fall colors besides Lockett Meadow. I will flat out say this is almost better! The first 1 mile of the trail is blanketed in mature & baby aspen. Hardly any conifers whatsoever. The drive in from the 180 is about 5 miles. With the final 2 being complete aspen groves. I’m fully amazed at this place & how it will look in about 5 years once the aspen are reaching 15’+ in height. Once we get to that point, this will be better than Inner Basin. High clearance needed. Probably second best spot for aspen / fall colors in Arizona. West side of Mt. Baldy has sections too, but they are undiscoverable due to tribal closures.

Primetime right now. Probably will last until this weekend.
9.5 mi • 1,387 ft aeg
 After work hike while working in the area. Started late afternoon and moved quickly up the trail. Perfect weather, puffy clouds and cool, with no monsoon threat. Stopped to enjoy the view from atop the hoodoos and then pressed on to the 10,500 contour or so on the last big climb. Too late to summit, though I considered it. Lots of interesting mushrooms and fungi to be seen. Decent wildflowers in the meadows. A few deadfall trees were blocking the trail along the ridge. Passed a couple of small groups of backpackers ascending at sunset while on my way down. Giant mosquitoes at the trailhead. Saw a good many elk grazing along the shoulders of highways 273 and 60 on the drive out at night.
55.74 mi • 6,888 ft aeg
White Mountains Tour
 I had originally planned a long (5+ day) backpacking trip in the Greer area for early July, but the forest closures ended up cancelling that. In looking for a replacement trip I ended up deciding to do the Tahoe Rim Trail in September. The prep for that trip includes some new gear and new packing discipline along with the physical challenge of the trail itself (180 miles in 11 days). I decided to modify my original plan for the White Mountains and use it as a shakedown for the Tahoe trip.

Day 1 - 17 miles - Greer to West Fork of the Black River
This day started out at the Government Springs trailhead around 7:00am. I was a bit concerned about the condition of the trail as I couldn't find a lot of information on it. I was pleasantly surprised to find a fairly well-traveled trail which looks to be somewhat actively maintained (i.e. deadfall has been cut and cleared). There were some overgrown spots where I was concerned about stepping into something I couldn't see, but aside from from water and mud there weren't any issues.

I continued following the river up to Sheeps Crossing where I got onto the West Baldy trail which I followed to its intersection with the Baldy Crossover trail.

The crossover trail was a nice change after the muddy river walk, but the dry trail only lasted for so long. After the first mile the skies opened up and out came the rain gear. The rain was never hard and it only lasted for 30 minutes or so. A new item on this trip was a rain kilt and as ridiculous as it looks I have to say that it's sooo much better than rain pants.

After the crossover trail ended I headed up the East Baldy trail for a bit. The intention here was to replicate a route posted by @Oregon_Hiker which followed the West Fork of the Black River to connect the East Baldy trail with the Thompson trail. I was able to find the headwaters of the Black River without too much trouble, but the condition of the canyon had changed significantly since he posted his triplog last year.

From his photos I expected a reasonably straightforward trek through a sparsely forested canyon. What I encountered was an overgrown mess which made it very difficult to find footing. On top of that there was an incredible amount of deadfall which looked like some jumbo-sized game of pickup sticks. I tried following the canyon a bit above the river and had better luck but it was still slow going. I eventually found the reservation boundary fence but it was in every orientation but vertical and mostly pinned down under massive deadfall. This was very different from last year's photos and description.

Then the thunder and lightning started.
Then it started raining again.
Then it started hailing.

After the storm I started moving again only to be slowed down by even more rain then stopped by more impressive thunder and even bigger hail. This trip was quickly running the risk of transitioning from type 2 to type 3 fun.

While waiting out the storm I decided to abandon the river walk and cut over to FR402D. Once the storm stopped I made my way over to the road and followed it to the point where it diverged from the stream. From there I stuck with the stream and made my way through the meadow to FR116 which I followed to the Thompson trail.

The Thompson trail was beautiful and similar in overall theme to the Government Springs trail at the beginning of the day. There were a lot of marshy sections and a lot of mud. While I had hoped to keep my feet from getting any wetter that just wasn't in the cards.

My intent was to camp near the intersection of the Thompson and West Fork trails, but when I got there I couldn't find a good spot. As the clouds in the sky were getting more ominous looking I decided to backtrack to a site I saw about 0.5 miles prior.

The weather was quickly turning and once I got to the site I raced to get my tent setup. This was comical as it was a new tent and although I had set it up in my yard a few times I had never done so in the wild under duress of an impending storm. Somehow I managed to get the tent pitched, my gear sheltered, and myself into the tent before the skies opened up again. This time it rained hard for over an hour. Fortunately my new tent kept me and my stuff dry.

After the rain stopped I got my stuff better organized, had some dinner, and hit the sack. As I fell asleep a thunderstorm raged several miles to the west. Two hours later and every two hours after that I was awakened by my air mattress having deflated enough to put some part of my body in contact with the ground.

Day 2 - 18 miles - West Fork of the Black River to East Baldy Overlook
I awoke to 46 degrees and 100% humidity. It was actually a very nice morning if it weren't for all of the condensation all over everything. Fortunately, I stayed dry overnight and by some sort of miracle (and a well-designed tent) didn't end up with any moisture on my quilt.

After taking care of my morning routine and packing up a very wet tent (inside and out) I headed back down the Thompson trail to the West Fork trail. I crossed the river and headed up the canyon wall to the plateau above. Everything was wet and muddy. Not just muddy, but suck the shoe off your foot muddy. I don't have much to say about the West Fork trail as it was pretty unremarkable. I'm sure it was much more interesting before the fire, but now it's just a lot of exposure.

From the West Fork trail I took FR68 north to FR249C which roughly parallels the canyon edge. Not much to report from these roads other than the fact that they were rutted and muddy messes in places. Lots of sun exposure and slow going in spots. I had planned a stop a Deadman Spring to get some water and dry my tent, but upon arrival I found a pond with what appeared to be a pretty healthy bloom of blue green algae. Not wanting to test my theory I backtracked a bit to a flowing spring I had passed by earlier and took my break there. In retrospect perhaps Deadman Spring had that name for a reason :)

After my break I continued my walk through the mud bog that was FR249C. Eventually I made it to FR249E, the FR116, then 402 then 8037 which I followed over Burro Mountain to AZ273. This section featured some great views from Burro Mountain, but was otherwise a long and tough slog. The sun was blazing and having learned my lesson descending the Rincons in May I was carrying a sun umbrella which I attached to my pack for some portable shade. This turned out to be a lifesaver as there's nothing worse than broiling your brain in the sun.

After cutting through the Gabaldon campsite I got onto the East Baldy trail and started making my way up the hill. Knowing that I would have a dry camp I grabbed water at the last possible spot before the trail started ascending. The Easy Baldy trail is beautiful and although I was tired I was loving the scenery.

I made it to the overlook about midway up the trail and found a perfect spot to pitch my tent between a couple of boulders. Took in the views, made some dinner, and hit the sack early. As I didn't have time to track down the leak in my mattress I went through the same cycle of interrupted sleep.

Day 3 - 20 miles - East Baldy overlook back to Greer
I woke up early and had just enough time to make some coffee before the sun came up. Enjoyed the display and then got on with my day.

The remainder of the East Baldy trail was beautiful and in retrospect one of my favorite parts of the trip. There was some deadfall to deal with, but nothing too bad. I stopped at the spring near the plane wreck to camel up and continued on. The area around the wreck was completely overgrown with ferns and cornlilly to the point that the tail section was barely visible.

Made it to the junction with the West Baldy trail and took a side trip up to the accessible summit. The views were great, but there was some haze in the air which limited visibility.

From the summit I started down and once I got to the shallower grade in the last 4 - 5 miles I hauled a** to the trailhead. I was feeling great and making great time so, stupid me, thought that the last 7 miles would be a fast walk back into town. I should have known better as the West Fork trail was a nightmare.

Once I found the West Fork trail I was treated to 4 miles of rutted and muddy terrain with nearly zero redeeming qualities. I'm guessing that without the mud it would have been more enjoyable, but in its current state I was really regretting my decision to take this trail. Fortunately the last 2 miles were through a beautifully forested area which almost made up for the prior pain.

Once at the trailhead I was ready for my day to be over, but I still had a 1.75 mile road walk through Greer to get to my truck. What energy I had left was sapped out of me by that walk. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday afternoon and the restaurants I passed were all either closed or not serving. I had been looking forward to a celebratory piece of pie, but that wasn't meant to be.
While quite different than my original plan of a leisurely stroll through the area I think that the fast approach that I took was more appropriate. The overall area is beautiful, but the beauty is punctuated by burned areas and, in the case of this trip, a lot of mud. I imagine that I would have gotten rather bored and frustrated if I had spread it out over any more days. In the future I may make another trip to focus more on the Mount Baldy Wilderness and unburned sections of Burro Mountain but I think I've had my fill of the area SW of Big Lake.
7 mi • 2,364 ft aeg
 Started at Greer trail head Sunday morning and hiked to Sheep's Crossing Bridge where we set up camp. Very few people out on the trail once we were away from the parking area. Good tread. Pretty cold that night camping in the open area before the bridge - our water was frozen to a slushy with chunks of ice! Little Colorado was flowing nicely and water was easy to filter. Monday we headed up the trail and camped just under 2 miles from the trail junction with East Baldy. Warmer up there away from the water!! Although the mountain is steep along the trail, there are spots where it levels out enough for good camping. Ran into a day hiker who was doing some recon for a future backpack trip. Jimmy - if you read this - from our camp it took Tina and I 1 hour, 15 minutes to make it up to the trail junction, so you must have been close when you turned back! There was water running in 3 drainages and plenty of water in the West Fork Tributary. Lots of color from the aspen made for spectacular views. Tuesday morning we left our camp and hiked up to the East / West trail junction. Ran into a pair of backpackers who had slept up at the junction. Came back, packed up camp and hiked out to Sheep's Bridge and our shuttle. Good trail, good water and great weather.

Aspen were gorgeous!
7 mi • 2,364 ft aeg
 Friday-Sunday 10/9 - 10/11
highs in the upper 50s and lows in the lower 40's

Well, this weekend didnt go exactly how it was planned, but went exactly how it was supposed to be.

The plan was to drive up Thursday from the valley and spend the night in Pinetop. Then drive to the west baldy TH and spend the next three days hiking the baldy loop in a counter clockwise direction. Ive had my eye on this hike for a cpl years now and was excited to finally get around to it. I was to be accompanied by my wife and 14 yr old daughter.

We arrived at the TH at around 0830 and the first 4.50 miles whizzed by. We stayed at nice little campsite situated in a clump of trees next to creek right before the trail really starts to climb. We opted for a light first and third day and a longer second day.
We spent the first day lounging around camp and napping in the meadow and some lite exploring of the surrounding area. The weather was GREAT and we went to bed feeling refreshed.

Woke up the next day and my wife was complaining about some pretty severe backpain and was having reservations about the 9 miles of hiking that was on the schedule for the day. Plus she was a little concerned about the altitude gain with the heavier winter packs we where carrying. After some "discussion" we decided it best not to push it and just enjoy our time out together and stay put and instead, just do a day hike to the top and back.

We spent the day hiking up to the 3.5 mile mark and turned around and headed back to camp. The trail was SO nice! the Aspens where changing, the sun was out, and a nice light breeze kept it comfy all day. We also where pleased to have some nice conversation with a family out doing the loop from Gilbert. Man and Wife, and four pleasant kids. It was good seeing another family out there getting it done.
As we where approaching our turnaround spot we started hearing a bunch of hooting and hollering from the direction of the summit. I surmised it must be a group of unruley boyscouts, or, maybe some sort of Native American ceremony thing. Couldn't really make it out but it sounded like a lot of voices, and it was going on for awhile, and actually, we could off an on hear them most of the way down the mountain.

Once back at camp, we had some coffee and prepared dinner. As we where cooking/eating we had a cpl backpackers come by and say Hi looking for a place to spend the night. Both groups where courteous and opted to go somewhere else to preserve everyone's solitude. As we where finishing up dinner, we could here voices and hooting and hollering coming down the trail. It was getting late and all i could think of was the large group a people on the top and guessed we where about to have a boyscout troop with a bunch of hollering kids camped next to

What really happened was two adults in their 30's came stumbling into view, and after spotting us, made a beeline straight across the meadow....It was later in the evening with about an hour left of light. It was a male and female. The male, was carrying a kids backpack, a gallon of water, and a large piece of wood. The female had her purse. My alarm bells where immediately going off and I whispered to my wife and daughter that something wasn't right and be ready.
As they approached i called out a greeting and they replied by asking where the road was. I told them about 4.5 miles down the trail. He tells me that he was with a group of 15 (explains the loud hooting and hollering) people at the summit (the two where definitely Native American) and some girl wondered off on her own and they left the group to find her, became disoriented, and went the wrong way, and where now lost. I asked him how they got to the summit and he told me they drove up to about 2 miles within the summit on the backside of baldy.....He was definitely intoxicated, she was not, and they both seemed nice enough to let my guard down a little and offer some water and snacks......after some short conversation they said they where going to try and beat the darkness and get to the TH. I advised that if they cant find their friend who wondered off they should call the sheriff since it was supposed to be pretty cold that night/morning.

As they worked their way across the meadow back to the trail, I wondered if I should of given them one of our headlamps but by the time i considered it fully they where out of sight.

They where definitely the topic of conversation as we cleaned up from dinner and sipped on some after dinner coffee and tea. The more we talked about them and processed what time they left, we realized it was pretty much impossible they where gonna make it out to the TH before dark...and the reality is they would prob only be able to cover about half of the 4.5 miles.....and even if they somehow miraculously made it out, they where going to be stranded in the middle of nowhere.

As dark settled in around our camp, I stepped out in the meadow to get a true sense of just how dark it was, and realized that night travel without light would be almost impossible.....Then the question. What where we going to do.

After some serious discussion between the wife and I, and the calculation of risk vs reward we came to the conclusion that they where in serious danger of hypothermia and serious injury if they where to get stuck out there at night or tried to continue on the trail. So we broke camp with the plan of catch up to them, escort them down to the parking lot and our vehicle, and get them back into town. So at 1930 we got to work breaking camp and at 2000 we started down the trail.

At approx 2045-2100 we rounded the corner and in the middle of the trail was the Male/Female standing around a fire they had made to stay warm. They where surprised to see anyone that late on the trail and where especially surprised to see it was us.

After we made them aware of who we where I asked the guy nonchalantly, "So, are you ready to get outa here?" His response was an overwhelming 'OH HELL yeah"!!! I helped him put out his fire, and clean up some trash they had laying around and we headed for the truck. They couldn't believe we broke camp and left in the middle of the night just to help them. My response was he was in luck, and I volunteer for a Search and rescue organization back in Phoenix....and wasnt going to be able to sleep knowing they where out there prob having a bad night......We had pleasant conversation on the way back to the truck and arrived at the TH at approx 2230 without incident. We drove back to cell service and he got ahold of his friends who have been looking for them for the last several hours (the girl who wondered off was also found). We arranged to meet at the sunrise bait store....and at approx midnight we passed the off to their friends and started our wy back to pintop with the idea of getting a hotel room.....

unfortunately every hotel room between pine and payson where either full, or wanted several hundred dollars to we ended up sleeping in the back of the truck on the barndhart TH turnoff at about 0200.....

woke up to the sunrise over the desert at out 0630 and headed back the rest ov the way to the valley.......

Th reality is these folks where not prepared to spend the night, which dipped into the 30's. They WHERE able to start a fire which was huge, and would have saved them from possible hypothermia....especially since the males feet where soaked from crossing the meadow to talk to us...we first calculated the risk to ourselves, and realized we had ate a good meal, we where adequately hydrated, and prepared to help.
5.4 mi • 1,500 ft aeg
 630am start with only 8 cars at the east lot made for a quiet climb up to the high perch and then some.

37F in parts of the drive up but TH temps were fine with a high of 75F for the day beats 110+ any day.

Usual storms arrived a little late and provided wonderful shade and cool breezes but east baldy remained bone drive for what appeared to be at least 5 days of no significant rain.

Ran into a number of folks on return trek but not crazy numbers but lot was crazy full with 40 cars and main West Baldy lot had 50 cars on drive out at 130pm.

A very nice day for a great hike with flurries in the forecast this week.
3.2 mi • 450 ft aeg
 I had never heard of this trail, but was working in the area and it had a little summit to hike to, so why not? The trail was an old road among the pines and volcanic rocks, and I saw no one. Made the summit of Pat Mullen Mountain at dusk, where an unseen bobcat was screaming maybe 100 feet away. Interesting. Hiked back the way I had come in the dark, and had dinner on the patio at El Patron. Fun way to wrap up a long day at the Pinetop office.
6.6 mi • 1,666 ft aeg
 I've wanted to do this trail for a long time and finally made it and so glad I did! The first mile + is through beautiful aspen groves. The trail is a bit rocky but not to bad and never really steep although it is almost a constant uphill trail with very little flat or downhill portions until you get to the "saddle". About 1.5 miles in you get into a burned out area that is just surreal. The trees that are still standing are amazing shapes and most spectacular colors. Some even looked as if they were painted bright silver. There are also areas where almost all the trees are down and I thought it looked like a game of giant pickup sticks. The weather was in the 70's so a bit warm in the sun but most of the time the trail has mixed sun/shade.
Best of all, IMHO, we only passed 6 other hikers so we really had the place to ourselves! As you can see from my time, I'm a slow hiker, especially at that altitude, but it's a really nice moderate hike for anyone with some stamina.
2.5 mi • 900 ft aeg
 Forecast was 30 percent chance and radar showed widespread storm activity.

A 1pm start with a nice 70F temperature.

It got really loud approaching hoodoos but otherwise no rain or reports of rain.

Nice rain storms in Pinetop but not Show Low and rain in Heber and Forest Lakes. A hot 97F in Payson at 5pm was a sign of how ugly the weather was going to be on my way back to Phx.

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