Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing recreation experiences on America's national forests, and the Apache-Sitgreaves is no exception to the trend.  In view of the growing popularity of this new and exciting sport, the Forests have already taken a number of steps to provide areas where mountain biking forest visitors can enjoy themselves without causing undue environmental damage or without resulting in conflicts with other users.

Miles and Miles and Miles
Just looking at the Forest map should make it apparent that the opportunities to go mountain biking are almost limitless. Many of the roads that crisscross the Forests are made to order for these sturdy all-terrain bicycles that have evolved as a hybrid of the old balloon tired cruiser and the sleek ten-speed racer. There are jeep tracks, logging roads, and little-used forest roads where motorized traffic is infrequent enough not to interfere with bike riding. The best way to find these unmarked bonanzas is to get a Forest map and start looking for the double dotted lines or unshaded double solid lines that indicate primitive roads or dirt roads. The next step is to pick out the ones which lead to places that look to be of interest to you. If you have the time and inclination, this way of approaching the situation is a bit like discovering the forest all over again and seeing it from a brand new perspective in the process.

If you don't see it just ask

Whatever is your pleasure when it comes to saddling up and pedaling into the backwoods we're sure you'll find it somewhere on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. If you don't see it in this guide feel free to call the local district office and ask us for further suggestions.

Who's Got the Right of Way

If you end up riding on a trail, keep in mind that bicyclists should yield both to horseback riders and hikers. That means when you encounter one of these other trail users, it is up to you to pull over to the side of the trail and stop until you have completely been passed.

And Don't Forget

When you bring your mountain bike to the Forests, don't forget to bring along all of the support equipment you'll need to make sure your ride is a pleasant one. First and foremost that includes a helmet. The birds and bears won't mind how you look, and those rocks are harder than even the most died in the wool anti-helmet wearer's head. As a matter of fact, it's so important we'll list it twice.

Here's what to bring:

  ·    Helmet and riding gloves

  ·    Tool kit, better to carry a kit than carry your bike

  ·    Extra tire tube (or patch kit) and pump, at least one per group

  ·    Matches and a knife are always a good idea.

  ·    First aid kit, at least for scrapes and bruises.

  ·    Water--lots and lots

  ·    Sunscreen

  ·    Extra clothes, it gets cool up here.

  ·    Rain gear, late summer brings thunderstorms.

  ·    Glasses are particularly helpful during the "bug season."

We've reserved a few of the good ones

If you would rather let someone else do the choosing for you, and thereby run less of a risk of finding out that you've picked the wrong route for whatever reason, the Forests have marked a few rides near areas of high visitor interest to help you out. Simply select the area that you would like to ride in from the following map or by Ranger District and various trails or routes will be highlighted for you. And please minimize erosion by staying on roads or trails; meadows, streambanks, and vegetation can be easily damaged. So lead by example.

Locating A Trail

The Forest can be divided into six geographic zones that represent typical user patterns.

Vicinity Map
The Black Mesa District is the westernmost geographical zone and is accessed via State Highway 260. This zone contains the Rim Lake Recreation Area, Black Canyon Lake, Chevelon Canyon, and hundreds of thousands of acres of relatively gentle rolling hills.

The Lakeside District is located near the communities of Show Low, Lakeside/Pinetop, McNary, and Pinedale, Arizona. This zone contains the White Mountain Trail System and is accessed via State Highways 70 and 260 and US Highway 60.

The Springerville District is located near the communities of Springerville, Eager, and Greer, Arizona. This zone contains the Big Lake Recreation Area and Mt. Baldy Wilderness. This area can be accessed through US Highways 60 and 180, State Highway 260, and State Route 273.

The Alpine District contains a portion of the Blue Range Primitive Area and the East and West Forks of the Black River. This geographical zone is accessed via US Highways 180 and 191.

The Clifton District is the southernmost geographic zone and is located near the communities of Clifton, Morenci, and Safford Arizona. The Coronado Trail Scenic Byway bisects this zone. The Clifton District contains a portion of the Blue Range Primitive Area.

Apache-Sitgreaves banner

Mountain Biking: General Information
Mountain biking is one of the fastest-growing recreation experiences on America's national forests, and the Apache-Sitgreaves is no exception to the trend. In view of the growing popularity of this new and exciting sport, the Forests have already taken a number of steps to provide areas where mountain biking forest visitors can enjoy themselves without causing undue environmental damage or without resulting in conflicts with other users.

Miles and Miles and Miles
Just looking at the Forest map should make it apparent that the opportunities to go mountain biking are almost limitless. Many of the roads that crisscross the Forests are made to order for these sturdy all-terrain bicycles that have evolved as a hybrid of the old balloon tired cruiser and the sleek ten-speed racer. There are jeep tracks, logging roads, and little-used forest roads where motorized traffic is infrequent enough not to interfere with bike riding. The best way to find these unmarked bonanzas is to get a Forest map and start looking for the double dotted lines or unshaded double solid lines that indicate primitive roads or dirt roads. The next step is to pick out the ones which lead to places that look to be of interest to you. If you have the time and inclination, this way of approaching the situation is a bit like discovering the forest all over again and seeing it from a brand new perspective in the process.

If you don't see it, just ask
Whatever is your pleasure when it comes to saddling up and pedaling into the backwoods we're sure you'll find it somewhere on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. If you don't see it in this guide feel free to call the local district office and ask us for further suggestions.

Who's Got the Right of Way

If you end up riding on a trail, keep in mind that bicyclists should yield both to horseback riders and hikers. That means when you encounter one of these other trail users, it is up to you to pull over to the side of the trail and stop until you have completely been passed.

And Don't Forget

When you bring your mountain bike to the Forests, don't forget to bring along all of the support equipment you'll need to make sure your ride is a pleasant one. First and foremost that includes a helmet. The birds and bears won't mind how you look, and those rocks are harder than even the most died in the wool anti-helmet wearer's head. As a matter of fact, it's so important we'll list it twice.

Here's what to bring:

  ·    Helmet and riding gloves

  ·    Tool kit, better to carry a kit than carry your bike

  ·    Extra tire tube (or patch kit) and pump, at least one per group

  ·    Matches and a knife are always a good idea.

  ·    First aid kit, at least for scrapes and bruises.

  ·    Water--lots and lots

  ·    Sunscreen

  ·    Extra clothes, it gets cool up here.

  ·    Rain gear, late summer brings thunderstorms.

  ·    Glasses are particularly helpful during the "bug season."

We've reserved a few of the good ones

If you would rather let someone else do the choosing for you, and thereby run less of a risk of finding out that you've picked the wrong route for whatever reason, the Forests have marked a few rides near areas of high visitor interest to help you out. Simply select the area that you would like to ride in from the following map or by Ranger District and various trails or routes will be highlighted for you. And please minimize erosion by staying on roads or trails; meadows, streambanks, and vegetation can be easily damaged. So lead by example.

Locating A Trail

The Forest can be divided into six geographic zones that represent typical user patterns.

Vicinity Map
The Black Mesa District is the western-most geographical zone and is accessed via State Highway 260. This zone contains the Rim Lake Recreation Area, Black Canyon Lake, Chevelon Canyon, and hundreds of thousands of acres of relatively gentle rolling hills.

The Lakeside District is located near the communities of Show Low, Lakeside/Pinetop, McNary, and Pinedale, Arizona. This zone contains the White Mountain Trail System and is accessed via State Highways 70 and 260 and US Highway 60.

The Springerville District is located near the communities of Springerville, Eager, and Greer, Arizona. This zone contains the Big Lake Recreation Area and Mt. Baldy Wilderness. This area can be accessed through US Highways 60 and 180, State Highway 260, and State Route 273.

The Alpine District contains a portion of the Blue Range Primitive Area and the East and West Forks of the Black River. This geographical zone is accessed via US Highways 180 and 191.

The Clifton District is the southernmost geographic zone and is located near the communities of Clifton, Morenci, and Safford Arizona. The Coronado Trail Scenic Byway bisects this zone. The Clifton District contains a portion of the Blue Range Primitive Area.

George's Lake Mountain Bike Trail

Length: 4.5 miles with a vehicle shuttle; 7.5 miles loop to Alpine via FR 275

Rating: Moderate

Use: Moderate

Season: May - October

Elevation: 8000 feet to 8500 feet

Description: This short ride starts in Alpine and leads through a variety of surroundings as it loops out from and back to town. Along its course, you'll ride on everything from the paved shoulders of broad two-lane highways to rough and rocky forest roads. Backyard horses will cast a curious glance in your direction as you pass suburban ranchettes and head into National Forest areas that seem a million miles from anywhere though they're just a short distance out of town. If the time of year is right, you have a chance of happening onto some of the migrant waterfowl at the little lake for which this ride is named. It's just a short way off of the main route so if you've brought your lunch, this might be a good place to enjoy it.

At the intersection of Forest Road, 275 you can either choose to head back to Alpine to complete this loop or you can continue on around the Luna Lake loop for a longer ride and more forest scenery.

Notes:

Conveniently close to Alpine and food, lodging, supplies, and camping
Connects to the Luna Lake bike trail

Trail Log:

0.0 Highway 191, follow blue diamond markers past the vehicle gate
2.0 Gate (please close the gate)
4.5 Junction with Forest Road 275; trail ends or turn right (south) and ride to Alpine, about 3 miles

USGS Maps:

Access: Starting at the intersection of Highways 191 and 180 in Alpine, proceed north about 1/3 mile to Forest Road 8200 and turn right (east) on FR 8200.

Hannagan Meadow Loop Mountain Bike Trail

Hiking TrailBicycle TrailEquestrian TrailMotorbike TrailToilets at Trailhead

Length: 5.5 miles

Rating: Easy to moderate

Use: Moderate

Season: May - October

Elevation: 8900 feet to 9300 feet

Description: Pleasantly cool temperatures and some of the finest alpine scenery in the Southwest are the main attractions for easy ride over varied terrain. Tall trees and mountain meadows colored with wildflowers set the backdrop while a nearby rustic log cabin resort adds a touch of history to the atmosphere. This is an especially scenic ride in the Fall when the aspens leafs turn to gold. You have a good chance to see turkey, elk, deer, bear, and Abert squirrels, too.

This ride is conveniently accessible from both Hannagan Meadow Lodge and Hannagan Campground. The route follows a powerline for awhile but the majority of the loop is along primitive two-track roads or gravel roads. A longer 17-mile loop is possible by incorporating sections of Forest Roads 24 and 25 into this ride. This extended loop takes you through more of the same scenic forests and meadows but the roads are more heavily traveled. It also requires 5 miles of riding along Highway 191 to return to the trailhead.

Notes:

bullet All road junctions are marked with blue diamond markers

bullet

Trail Log:

0.0 Junction with Forest Road 576 and Highway 191
0.1 Powerline, turn right and follow blue markers
1.1 Junction with a marked, two-track road; turn left
2.5 Marked junction, turn right
4.5 Corral, turn right to the powerline and follow the powerline road
5.3 Hannagan Meadow Lodge

USGS Maps: Hannagan Meadow - 302NE

Access: From Alpine drive 22 miles south on Highway 191 to Forest Road 576 (a quarter of a mile north of Hannagan Meadow). The ride begins here and in a short distance turns right along a power line. From Hannagan Meadow Lodge ride north on Highway 191 to Forest Road 576 to begin the ride.

Terry Flat Loop Bike Trail

Hiking TrailBicycle TrailEquestrian TrailMotorbike TrailToilets at Trailhead

Length: 6 miles

Rating: Easy

Use: Moderate

Season: May - October

Elevation: 9600 feet to 9900 feet

Description: This beautiful ride rolls along over a little-used forest road that loops around the high meadows of Arizona's third-highest mountain. There are lots of wildlife to see, plentiful wildflowers from July through September, and great scenery. Huge stands of aspen make this an exceptionally scenic ride in September and October. If you are a beginner at bicycling or are a little out of shape, this is a great place to warm up for some of the more-strenuous rides in the area. But even if you're a stump-jumping veteran, you'll enjoy the magnificent scenery.

The ride skirts the edge of a huge meadow (Terry Flat) perched on a plateau one level down from the mountain's summit. It follows a moderately-rough forest road that is open to motorized vehicles but traffic is generally very light, except when the aspens turn to gold. The route wanders in and out of forested areas that extend into the meadow's grassy interior.

Notes:

While you are in the area you might want to hike up the Escudilla Trail to near the top of Arizona's third-highest mountain, just don't take your bike up there. No motorized or mechanized vehicles are permitted in the Wilderness.
bullet

Trail Log:

USGS Maps: Nutrioso -281NW, Escudilla - 281NE

Access: Drive 5.5 miles north from Alpine on Highway 191 to Forest Road 56. Turn right on FR 56 and follow it 4.5 miles to Terry Flat. Take the left fork past Tool Box Draw for 1/2 mile to a parking area at the Escudilla National Recreation Trail. Park here and continue east around the loop on your bike.

Williams Valley Mountain Bike Trail System

Hiking TrailBicycle TrailEquestrian TrailMotorbike TrailToilets at Trailhead

Length: 5 miles

Rating: Moderate

Use: Light

Season: May - October

Elevation: 8600 feet

Description: When Williams Valley is covered with snow it is known as one of the premier winter recreation areas in the White Mountains. After the snow melts the trails that were marked for cross-country skiing become excellent mountain bike route. In 1991 a large portion of this scenic area of wide meadows and lush forests was designated for non-motorized recreation. There are well-marked trails and trailheads, and mini-cattleguards designed with the biker in mind.

Trails generally skirt the edge of the meadows or wind their way through the trees that surround the meadows. These meadows are sprinkled with wildflowers in late summer and are important forage for the resident elk population. You have the best chance of seeing elk, deer, or bear in the early morning or late evening so ride the trails quietly. These trails are gently rolling with no real lung-busters and are suitable for beginners or the more advanced rider.

Notes:

Ride safe and be considerate of other users; ranchers graze cattle in this area so please don't disturb livestock or facilities

USGS Maps: Alpine - 281SW

Access: Drive 1.5 miles north of Alpine on Highway 191 and then turn west (left) onto Forest Road 249 about 4 miles to Williams Valley. There are 2 parking lots here, one at the crest of the hill that marks the divide between the San Francisco and the Black River drainages, the other at the west end of the valley. Both parking areas are signed.

Luna Lake Loop Bike Trail

Hiking TrailBicycle TrailEquestrian TrailMotorbike TrailToilets at Trailhead

Length: 2.5 miles or 8-mile loop
Rating: Easy to moderate

Use: Moderate

Season: May - October

Elevation: 7900 feet to 8300 feet

Description: You can ride your mountain bike right out of your campsite at Luna Lake Campground to take advantage of this convenient ride. A moderate length and easy rating make it a popular diversion for campers. If the fish aren't biting at Luna Lake or if you need to get away from campground society for a while, the Luna Lake Loop will take you for an easy-going tour of forest backroads, open grasslands, and suburban ranches in the vicinity of the lake and the village of Alpine. If you're having so much fun that the combined 10.5 miles aren't enough, you can expand this ride by including all or part of the Georges Lake Loop. That 4.5- mile loop is accessible via a short jaunt down Forest Road 275 to its intersection with Forest Road 275F and the Georges Lake Loop.

Notes:

bullet Carry plenty of water, especially on the longer loop

bullet

Trail Log: Lower Loop (2.5 miles)

bullet From the trailhead follows the blue diamonds north through the gate to a junction where a sign that reads "easiest" marks the right fork. Follow this fork 1 mile to a second, signed junction and take the right fork to the Luna Lake road 300 feet south of the trailhead.
bullet Upper Loop (8 miles) - Follow the same route as above to the second, signed junction. Take the left fork, marked "more difficult", and continue 1 mile through the gate (watch those diamonds), across Little Creek and a cattle guard, and down the main road about 1/4 mile to a signed road and gate on the right. Go through this gate and enjoy relatively flat going for 2.5 miles. After this the going gets a little rougher over a series of short climbs and drops which lead back to a signed junction. The right fork marked "easiest" will take you back to the trail system while the left fork will bring you back to the Luna Lake road in a quick half mile.

USGS Maps: Luna Lake -281SE

Access: Drive 5 miles east from Alpine on US 180 and turn north (left) on the Luna Lake entrance road. This gravel, all-weather road leads 1 mile to the bike trailhead marked by an international-style bike trail symbol near the campground entrance.