Seeking treasures of the legendary Seven Cities of Cíbola, in 1540 Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and his men struggled through the rugged mountains of eastern Arizona. Though the Spaniard's quest failed, the name of this scenic highway recalls his effort. You'll discover the area's real wealth on a drive over Coronado's old route—rugged mountains covered with majestic forests rolling in blue waves towards the horizon. The blazing gold of aspen in autumn is matched only by the dazzling display of wildflowers in summer. The 123 miles of paved highway between Clifton and Springerville twist over country little changed from Coronado's time. When exploring this region, hikers, anglers, and cross-country skiers will find themselves far from the crowds. You may spot some of the Mexican wolves released between Clifton and Alpine. They're about German shepherd size—larger and heavier than coyotes. A few backcountry areas frequented by the wolves may be closed. Forest Service offices and the website www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf/ have information on the wolf program.
The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests map shows many scenic backcountry loop possibilities. Allow enough time for the journey through this high country—even a nonstop highway drive requires three and a half hours. With some 460 curves between Morenci and Alpine, this route certainly isn't suitable for those in a hurry. And you'll probably want to stop often to enjoy the views and maybe have a picnic. Drivers should stock up on groceries and gas before attempting the 89 miles from Morenci to Alpine; there are no towns along this stretch, though Hannagan Meadow Lodge has a small store/gas station. Also bring water as campgrounds and picnic areas along the way may not have any.
Winter snows can close the highway from just north of Morenci to Alpine between mid-December and mid-March, though the section from Springerville to Alpine remains open. Miles of fine cross-country ski trails attract winter visitors to the forests near Alpine and Hannagan Meadow.
Coronado's expedition marched through this area in 1540, unaware of the gold and abundant copper ore lying deep within these hills. Mexican miners discovered gold in 1867 and began small-scale placer operations. As the gold played out, Eastern prospectors took an interest in the copper deposits. They registered claims and by 1872 had staked out the town of Clifton. The nearby mining towns of Joy's Camp (later renamed Morenci) and Metcalf also date to this time. Miners faced great difficulties at first, as the nearest railhead was far away in Colorado and frequent Apache raids interrupted work.
In 1878, Arizona's first railroad connected the smelter in Clifton with the Longfellow Mine at Metcalf, nine miles north. Mules pulled the empty ore cars uphill to the mine; on the way down, the mules got a free ride. Three tiny locomotives, one on display in Clifton, later replaced the mules. Miners worked underground during the first six decades; in 1937, after a five-year Depression-era hiatus, all mining shifted to the surface, where it continues today.
Both Metcalf and old Morenci are gone now—Metcalf abandoned and destroyed, and old Morenci quarried away. The new Morenci has a modern appearance and lacks the character of an old mining town. Clifton, the Greenlee County seat, still has its old buildings and lots of character. The imposing 1911 yellow brick courthouse stands in the south part of town. Booze joints and brothels, where desperados engaged in frequent shootouts, once lined Chase Creek Street. Today the street is quiet and the old jail empty, but Clifton remains one of Arizona's more historically distinctive towns. Clifton also claims fame as the birthplace of the Apache warrior Geronimo.
Clifton's old jail, close to the old train depot/Chamber of Commerce, was built in 1881 by blasting and hacking a hole into the hillside. The jail's first occupant turned out to be the man who built it, Margarito Verala. After doing a fine job on the construction, Verala received his pay, got drunk on mescal, and proceeded to shoot up the town. You're welcome to step inside the gloomy interior. The 1880s Copper Head locomotive of the old Coronado Railroad rests next to the jail. Local artists exhibit at the Art Depot (928/865-3467) in the old depot.
Chase Creek Street parallels US 191 on the opposite side of the creek. Strolling along it, you can imagine how the scene once looked—when the boisterous miners of old came looking for a good time. To see exhibits and artifacts of the old days, drop into the Greenlee County Historical Society Museum (317 Chase Creek St., 928/865-3115, call for hours, donations welcome). A large model (ca. 1915) shows the ore deposits and mines of the area. The telephone switchboard and a beautiful cherry wood fireplace mantle come from the old Morenci Hotel. Murals from the early 1900s have humorous folk art. Local history books sold here tell fascinating stories.
Mule Creek Road
Highway AZ 78 winds into the pinyon-juniper forests of the Big Lue Mountains east of town and continues into New Mexico. Ponderosa pine and oak grow at the higher elevations near the campgrounds. Begin at the "Three Way" junction nine miles south of town. You can stay at Black Jack Campground (elev. 6,300 feet) about 11 miles in and at Coal Creek Campground (elev. 5,900 feet) five miles farther. These small campgrounds can usually be reached year-round; no water or fee.
San Francisco River Scenic Drive
Forest Road 212 winds from Clifton east up along the San Francisco River past ranches, old mines, and canyon scenery to Evans Point. Cars can travel at least a few miles and high-clearance 4WD vehicles can go farther. Head up Frisco Avenue on the west side of the river, cross the river on a concrete bridge, and continue upstream. Staff at the Clifton Ranger District office and Greenlee County Chamber of Commerce can advise you on this and other backcountry drives and hikes.
Horse races run in late March or early April at the fairgrounds in Duncan. Clifton celebrates Cinco de Mayo on the weekend nearest May 5th. The Greenlee County Fair and Rodeo entertains during September in Duncan. A Parade of Lights brightens Clifton in early December.
Cool off in the outdoor swimming pool (928/865-2003) near the plaza in Morenci. Play golf at the nine-hole Greenlee Country Club course (928/687-1099) in York Valley, 12 miles southeast of Clifton via US 191 and AZ 75.
Accommodations, Campgrounds, and Food
Rode Inn Motel (186 S. Coronado Blvd., 928/865-4536, $45 s, $50 d) is in south Clifton. Morenci Motel (928/865-4111, $59 d) lies six miles up the highway from Clifton and has a restaurant. The municipal North Clifton RV Park (928/865-4146 or 866/996-2787, $10 tent, $15-19 RV w/hookups) lies next to a large city park; turn off the highway on Zorilla Street, one block north of the depot, then turn left 0.5 mile on Frisco Avenue.
Clifton has several cafes along the highway. Another option is a picnic—you'll find tables just off US 191 in Clifton south of the San Francisco River bridge and at a park just north of the Rode Inn. The Morenci Motel's restaurant (928/865-4111, lunch and dinner most days, $5-12) offers American and Mexican dining. Golden City Chinese Restaurant (928/865-5941, Mon.-Sat. for lunch and dinner, $7-10), Copper Canyon Cafe with American and Mexican basics, and R&R Pizza Express (928/865-2200, Mon.-Sat. for lunch and dinner, $4-13), lie across the street in Morenci Plaza. Stock up on groceries at Bashas' in the shopping plaza, especially if headed north, as no supplies or gas are available for the next 67 miles to Hannagan Meadow.
Information and Services
In Clifton's 1913 train depot, the Greenlee County Chamber of Commerce (P.O. Box 1237, Clifton, AZ 85533, 928/865-3313) provides information on the history, sights, and facilities of the area; hours depend on volunteer staffing. You can see old photos of Morenci, taken before it disappeared, and of Clifton in its busier days. Rockhounds can obtain directions to several agate digs.
For hiking and camping information on the south half of the Coronado Trail, see the Forest Service's Clifton Ranger District office (9 miles south of Clifton at Three Way, 397240 AZ 75, Duncan, AZ 85534, 928/687-1300, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.); a picnic area on the way in has a pair of shaded tables, water, and toilets; it's also available to cyclists to camp as this is on the popular Southern Tier cycling route between St. Augustine, Florida and San Diego, California.
Clifton's public library (101 School St., 928/865-2461, open Mon.-Fri.) is across from the county courthouse. Morenci's public library (928/865-2775, open Mon.-Sat.) is in the shopping plaza. Post offices are at N. Coronado Blvd. in Clifton and in the shopping plaza in Morenci. Morenci Healthcare Center (Coronado Blvd. and Burro Alley, 928/865-4511) provides medical services.
Morenci Mine Overlook
From this high vantage point, 10 miles north of Clifton, you can gaze into one of the biggest man-made holes in the world. Giant 210-ton trucks look like toys laboring to haul copper ore out of the ever-deepening pit. On the drive up from Clifton (elev. 3,502 feet) and modern Morenci (elev. 4,080 feet), you'll pass a solvent extraction/electrowinning plant and vast concentrator buildings.
Granville Campground and Cherry Lodge Picnic Area
Both of these places nestle in a wooded canyon at an elevation of 6,800 feet and make pleasant stops. The camp and picnic sites are free and open all year; they lie on opposite sides of the road, about 20 miles north of Clifton between Mileposts 178 and 179.
As its name suggests, this is a secluded spot at the end of the 22-mile dirt Upper Eagle Creek Road. Elevation is 5,400 feet. No drinking water or fee. You can fish for trout in Eagle Creek, stocked from May to September. Turn west onto Forest Road 217 near Milepost 188 of the Coronado Trail. Many of the ranches along the way date back to the late 1800s.
Juan Miller Campgrounds
The season runs year-round when not blocked by snow at the upper (elev. 5,800 feet) and lower (5,700 feet) campgrounds; no drinking water or fee. Head east one mile from the Coronado Trail on Forest Road 475. The turnoff is near Milepost 189, 33 miles north of Clifton and 35 miles south of Blue Vista. Forest Road 475 continues east to Blue River, another 15 miles, passing many small canyons and ridges good for day hiking.
At an elevation of 8,786 feet, Rose Peak offers great views north to the Mogollon Rim, east and southeast to the Blue River area and far into New Mexico, south to the Pinaleños, and west across the Apache reservations. It's also a good place for birdwatching. The turnoff lies between Mileposts 207 and 208, about 51 miles north of Clifton and 17 miles south of Blue Vista. You can reach the forest lookout tower at the summit on a one-mile (one-way) trail.
This free campground in the ponderosa pines at an elevation of 7,600 feet is 64 miles north of Clifton and 4 miles and 1,600 feet below Blue Vista; turnoff is between Mileposts 220 and 221. Raspberry Creek Trail #35 leads east to Blue River in the Blue Range Primitive Area. Highline Trail #47 goes west 14.5 miles, linking with several other trails; trails in this area, west of Strayhorse Campground, tend to be harder to follow.
Blue Vista Overlook
In clear weather you can see countless ridges rolling away to the horizon from this 9,184-foot vantage point. Signs identify many of the mountain ranges, including Mt. Graham (elev. 10,717 feet), the highest peak of the Pinaleños Range, 70 miles to the south.
The overlook sits at the very edge of the Mogollon Rim, 68 miles north of Clifton and seven miles south of Hannagan Meadow. Turn 0.3 mile southwest at the sign to paved parking, picnic tables, an outhouse, and wheelchair-accessible views.
Bear Wallow Wilderness
This area west of the Coronado Trail contains 11,000 acres, including what's thought to be the largest stand of virgin ponderosa pine in the Southwest. Bear Wallow Trail #63 follows Bear Wallow Creek downstream through the wilderness west to the San Carlos Indian Reservation boundary, 7.6 miles one way; elevations range from 8,700 feet at the trailhead to 6,700 feet at the reservation boundary. You can hike on the reservation with a Black and Salt River permit from the San Carlos Apache tribe.
Two shorter trails drop down to the trail and creek from the north. Reno Trail #62 (1.9 miles one-way) meets Bear Wallow Trail at Mile 2.6; Gobbler Point Trail #59 (2.7 miles one-way) meets Bear Wallow Trail at Mile 7.1.
Reach upper trailheads from Forest Road 25, which turns off US 191 opposite the road for K.P. Cienega Campground. Foresters at the Alpine Ranger District office have trail descriptions and can advise on current conditions.
K.P. Cienega Campground
Sites in this idyllic spot overlook a large meadow (cienega is Spanish for meadow) and a sparkling stream, though recent fires have burned some of the surrounding ridges; there's no water or charge. From the Coronado Trail two miles north of Blue Vista Overlook and five miles south of Hannagan Meadow, turn east 1.5 miles on a dirt road to the campground. On the way, you'll pass the trailhead for K.P. Trail #70, which heads into the Blue Range Primitive Area.
Splendid forests of aspen, spruce, and fir surround the tiny village of Hannagan Meadow (elev. 9,100 feet), 22 miles south of Alpine. A network of trails offers some great hiking; several trails also lead into the adjacent Blue Range Primitive Area. Here, in areas relatively unknown, you'll find some of the best cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in all of Arizona. The road from Alpine is normally open in winter, though storms occasionally shut it down for a few days.
Hannagan Meadow Campground and Trails
This national forest campground 0.3 mile south of the lodge on the highway stays open from mid-May to mid-September; no drinking water or fee. You can hike from the campground, if staying there, or from the Ackre Lake-Fish Creek Trailhead just to the south. The Ackre Lake Trail heads to Ackre Lake, 3.5 miles, and to remote areas of the Blue Range Primitive Area. Fish Creek Trail follows the creek all the way from Ackre Lake to the Black River, about 12 miles one-way.
Hannagan Meadow Lodge
The cozy rooms and rustic cabins at this remote lodge (HC 61, P.O. Box 335, Alpine, AZ 85920, 928/339-4370 reservations, 928/339-4442 restaurant, www.hannaganmeadow.com) offer comfortable year-round accommodations, all with private bath. Rooms and suites in the lodge run $85–125 d, and log cabins go at $150–200; all discounted off season. The lodge dining room (daily in season with a breakfast buffet, lunch, and dinner) serves dinners $10–25 of steak, rib-eye steak, chicken, trout, salmon, burgers, and pasta; off season call for reservations. A small gas station (may run out) sits next door. You can rent snowshoe, sledding, and cross-country ski gear. Horseback riding is offered in summer and snowmobile rides in winter. The lodge has wi-fi.
Cross-country skiers in the Hannagan Meadow area can glide along four marked trails totaling about 27 km during the late November to late March season. The Alpine Ranger District office and Hannagan Meadow Lodge have maps and can advise on current snow conditions. A snowmobile trail starts from the north end of the lodge area.
This rugged wilderness country lies south of Alpine along the Arizona-New Mexico border. The south-flowing Blue River, fed by several perennial streams, neatly divides the primitive area. The Mogollon Rim, with high cliffs forming the south boundary of the Colorado Plateau, crosses the area from west to east. Geologic uplifting and downcutting have created spectacular rock formations and rough, steep canyons. Elevations range from 9,100 feet near Hannagan Meadow to 4,500 feet in the lower Blue River.
Hiking down from the rim, you'll find spruce, fir, and ponderosa pine forests giving way to pinyon pine and juniper. Wildlife includes Rocky Mountain elk, Coues white-tailed deer, mule deer, black bear, mountain lion, Mexican wolf, javelina, and bobcat. You may also see such rare and endangered birds as the southern bald eagle, spotted owl, American peregrine falcon, aplomado falcon, Arizona woodpecker, black-eared bushtit, and olive warbler. The upper Blue River and some of its tributaries harbor small numbers of trout.
You have many day-hike and backpack options; check with the Forest Service office in Alpine for maps, trail descriptions, and the latest conditions (fires have damaged some areas). The best times to go are April to early July and from September to late October. Violent thunderstorms lash the mountains in July and August. Snow covers much of the land from November to March. You can hike from trailheads along the Coronado Trail/US 191 on the west and Blue Road/Forest Road 281 and Red Hill Road/Forest Road 567 on the north; other trailheads lie to the east in New Mexico.
This high mountain valley (elev. 8,046 feet), surrounded by extensive woodlands, attracted Mormon settlers who settled in 1879. They named their town Frisco for the nearby San Francisco River, but, inspired by the mountain setting, they later renamed it Alpine. Alpine (pop. 600) is an excellent base for hiking, mountain biking, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, golfing, scenic drives, and—in winter—cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowmobiling.
Bush Valley Craft Fair takes place on Memorial Day weekend in May. Worms strain for the finish line in Worm Races and Parade on the second full weekend in July. Classic cars glitter in the Cool August Nights at Tal-Wi-Wi Lodge on the first Saturday. The CASI Chili Cookoff spices up August on the third Saturday. Shop early in the Bush Valley Christmas Bazaar on Labor Day weekend.
You can ride horses at Sprucedale Ranch (See Accommodations below). Cross-country skiers roam the groomed trails northwest of town in Williams Valley or south of town at Hannagan Meadow. See how far you can hit a golf ball through the thin mountain air at Alpine Country Club (928/339-4944), which offers an 18-hole course and a restaurant from April 15 to Oct. 15; head east three miles on US 180, then turn south two miles and follow signs.
Places tend to fill up on summer weekends, when you'll need reservations.
$50-100: Alpine Cabins (just east on US 180 from the highway junction, 928/339-4440, closed mid-Dec.-March, $55 up to four persons) has a variety of kitchenettes. Mountain Hi Lodge (928/339-4311) provides rooms at $46 d weekdays, $53 d Fri.-Sat. and kitchenettes at $56-78 d weekdays, $61-78 d Fri.-Sat. a half mile east on Main Street. Coronado Trail Cabins & RV (0.5 mile south of town on US 191, 928/339-4772) has cabins with kitchenettes from about April to December at $55-69 d; RV spaces are open April-Oct. and cost $23 w/hookups.
Sportsman's Lodge (US 191 just north of the highway junction, 928/339-4576 or 888/202-1033) offers motel rooms for $50 d and kitchenettes for $75 d. Tal-Wi-Wi Lodge (3 miles north of Alpine, 928/339-4319, www.talwiwilodge.com) has a seasonal restaurant and year-round rooms at $69 d, $79 d with fireplace, $89 d with hot tub, $99 d with fireplace and hot tub. Sprucedale Ranch (P.O. Box 880, Eagar, AZ 85925, 928/333-4984, www.sprucedaleranch.com) offers accommodations at a working cattle and horse ranch at an elevation of 7,400 feet. Minimum stays are six days at $475 adult with a reduced rate for children. From Alpine, drive 14 miles south on US 191, turn right nine miles on Forest Road 26, then right one mile on Forest Road 24 to the ranch turnoff.
Alpine Divide Campground is set in a forest of ponderosa pine and Gambel oak four miles north of Alpine. It offers sites with drinking water from about mid-May to mid-September, $10. The rest of the year, camping is on a pack-in/pack-out basis and free.
Luna Lake Campground lies near the north shore of this 75-acre lake amidst meadows and ponderosa pine forests near the New Mexico border; it's open with drinking water from mid-May to mid-September and costs $10; family and group sites can be reserved (877/444-6777, www.recreation.gov). Head east four miles from Alpine on US 180, then turn left 1.5 miles. Mountain bikers hit the dirt on the Luna Lake Loop, whose 2.5- and 8-mile circuits begin on the right just before the campground. On the south shore just off the highway, you'll find a free picnic area with shaded tables, a fishing dock, and a boat ramp. Nearby, a year-round store offers bait, tackle, and boat rentals. Anglers go after trout in all four seasons—even through the ice in winter. Birders flock to the west shore to see a heron rookery in May-June; bald eagles nest as early as January and fledge between May and early July.
Coronado Trail Cabins & RV (0.5 mile south of town on US 191, 928/339-4772, $23 RV w/hookups) is open from about April to October. Outpost RV & Trailer Park (on US 180 near Luna Lake, 928/339-4854, $15 RV w/hookups) has sites for self-contained units from April 15 to October 15. Alpine Village RV Park (US 180 in Alpine, 928/339-1841, www.alpinevillagerv.com) offers sites year-round at $5 for tents, $27 for RVs w/hookups; showers are free for RVers and an extra $6 per person for others; weekly, monthly, and yearly rates are offered too; there's a laundry room and RV dump; turn in 0.6 mile in from US 191. Meadow View RV Park (one block north of the junction of US 191 and US 180 in Alpine, 928/339-1850, $20 RV w/hookups) is open year-round for self-contained rigs.
High Country Buffet and Lollypop Shoppe (just east on US 180 from the highway junction in town, daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner, $10) has themed buffets for lunch and dinner and sometimes for breakfast along with homemade ice cream and other sweet treats; call for hours in winter. Across the street, Bear Wallow Cafe (928/339-4310, daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, $6-20) serves American and Mexican food in a woodsy setting. Tal-Wi-Wi Lodge (3 miles north of Alpine, 928/339-4319, $6-16) serves breakfast Sat.-Sun. and dinner Thurs.-Sat. from May to late November. The Alpine Country Club's restaurant (928/339-4944) serves a brunch on Sunday, lunch Tues.-Sat., and dinner Fri.-Sat. from April 15 to Oct. 15; head east three miles on US 180, then turn south two miles and follow signs about two miles. Alpine Country Store sells groceries on US 180 in town.
Information and Services
For a list of accommodations and services, contact the Alpine Chamber of Commerce (P.O. Box 410, Alpine, AZ 85920, 928/339-4330 answering machine, www.alpinearizona.com). People at the Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests' Alpine Ranger District office (US 191 in town, P.O. Box 469, Alpine, AZ 85920, 928/339-4384, www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.) provide information on scenic drives, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, camping, and cross-country ski trails. The district covers the north half of the Coronado Trail, including Escudilla Mountain and most of the Blue Range Primitive Area. You can also obtain local tourist information and purchase books and maps. The TDD number for those with hearing impairments is 928/339-4566.
Alpine's public library (928/339-4925) is 0.4 mile east on US 180 from the highway junction. The post office is on US 191 just north of the highway junction. The Tackle Shop and Sports Center (928/339-4338) has groceries, fishing and hunting supplies, and cross-country ski rentals near the highway junction.
The East and West Forks of the Black River west of town have fishing, hiking, and campgrounds; continue west for Big Lake, Crescent Lake, and other recreation areas.
Blue River-Red Hill Scenic Loop
On this backcountry drive you'll roll by the Blue River, remote ranches, and rugged hill country. The Forest Service maintains two small campgrounds along the way—Upper Blue, with spring water, and Blue Crossing. Both lie near the Blue River at an elevation of 6,200 feet; no charge.
From Alpine, head east three miles on US 180 and turn south on Forest Road 281 (Blue Road). After 10 miles you'll reach the Blue River; follow it downstream nine miles to the junction with Forest Road 567 (Red Hill Road). A river ford here can be impassable in high water. Red Hill Road twists and climbs out of the valley, following ridges with good views, to US 191, 14 miles south of Alpine. If driving in the other direction, you'll find the Red Hill Road turnoff between Mileposts 239 and 240 on US 191. The forest roads are gravel and should be okay in dry weather for cautious drivers. See the Alpine Ranger District office for more information on this and other scenic drives in the area.
Hikers may want to try Red Hill Trail #56; this 7.6-mile trail follows a jeep track to the Blue Range Primitive Area, descends along ridges via Red Hill (elev. 7,714 feet), drops into Bush Creek, and follows it to Tutt Creek. Tutt Creek Trail #105 connects the lower end of Red Hill Trail with Red Hill Road, 0.8 mile to the east. The upper trailhead (elev. 8,000 feet) is on Forest Road 567 one mile east of US 191; the lower trailhead (5,800 feet) is on Forest Road 567 a half mile before the Blue River.
The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests offer many good areas for mountain biking. Marked trails in the Alpine District include upper (8 miles) and lower (2.5 miles) loops near Luna Lake, Georges Lake near Alpine (4.5 miles, 7.5 miles without shuttle), Terry Flat Loop (six miles) at Escudilla Mountain, Hannagan Meadow Loop (5.5 miles) south of Alpine, and Williams Valley (five miles) northwest of Alpine.
Escudilla Mountain and Wilderness
In 1540, Coronado spotted the 10,912-foot summit of this ancient volcano; perhaps a homesick member of his expedition named the mountain after an escudilla, a soup bowl used in his native Spain.
In 1951 a disastrous fire burned the forests on the entire north face of Escudilla. Aspen trees then took over where mighty conifers once stood, the normal sequence after a mountain fire. Raspberries, snowberries, currants, elderberries, strawberries, and gooseberries now flourish here too. The forests of spruce, fir, and pine on top escaped the fire; lower down you'll find surviving woodlands of aspen, Rocky Mountain maple, ponderosa pine, and Gambel oak. Elk, deer, black bear, and smaller animals roam the hillsides. Escudilla was once grizzly country, but the last one was killed by the 1930s.
Now a wilderness area of 5,200 acres, Escudilla offers excellent hiking. Outstanding views from the fire lookout—the highest in Arizona—reward those who make the climb. The actual summit (10,912 feet)—Arizona's third highest—lies a half mile to the north and 36 feet higher, but trees there block the views.
Escudilla National Recreation Trail, a well-graded, 3.3-mile trail from Terry Flat (elev. 9,600 feet), ascends to Escudilla Lookout through aspen, meadows, and conifers. The old Government Trail originally began at Hulsey Lake and, though shown on some maps, it's no longer maintained and isn't recommended.
From US 191 between Mileposts 420 and 421, about six miles north of Alpine and 21 miles south of Springerville, turn east 4.6 miles on Forest Road 56 to Terry Flat Loop, then take the left fork 0.4 mile to the trailhead. Terry Flat Loop is a worthwhile destination in itself—the six-mile dirt road encircles Terry Flat Meadow with many fine views of Escudilla Mountain. Cautious drivers can usually make the trip with cars in dry weather. Families enjoy outings and trout fishing at Hulsey Lake, about two miles in on Forest Road 56; small boats can be carried and hand launched.
Rainbow, brown, and brook trout live in this 60-acre lake surrounded by a woodland of pinyon pine and juniper. It's just west of US 191, 11 miles north of Alpine and 10 miles south of Springerville. Restrooms, a paved boat ramp, and handicapped fishing station are provided at the north end; no fires or camping. Winter visitors can fish through the ice.
Sipe White Mountain Wildlife Area
Elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and turkey roam the rolling hills and meadows southwest of Springerville. Waterfowl and other birds drop by the lakes. A visitor center (928/333-4518 residence) has exhibits and a few picnic tables; it's usually open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed.–Sun. from Memorial Day to Labor Day. You're welcome to hike or horseback ride during daylight hours. The elk population peaks at about 1,000 during the Sept.–Oct. rut season, when the males bugle and compete with each other and the females meow; sunrise and sunset are the best times to see and hear the elk in action. Rudd Creek Pueblo, a short walk from the visitor center, dates to about 1225–1300 when ancestral Pueblo people used the 50 masonry rooms and two great kivas. From US 191 at Milepost 405 near the crest of a ridge, about five miles south of downtown Springerville, turn south 5 miles on a gravel road.
On to Springerville