Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
The town of Alpine, neatly seated at the intersection of Hwy. 191 and Hwy. 180, hosts small town conveniences with a wooden-floored market, quiet motels, and chatterbox cafes. Chances are you will need some of these services, because Alpine is 250 miles from Phoenix, 250 miles from Tucson, 210 miles from Flagstaff, 230 miles from Albuquerque, and 130 miles from Silver City.
Before leaving home for your trip to our neck of the woods, keep in mind that Alpine is not a booming metropolis and the nearest bicycle shop is in Eagar, some 30 odd miles away.
Terry Flat Loop
High mountain meadows surrounded by wavering stands of aspen and thick forests of spruce and fir will keep your interest perked to, "see what is just around the next bend!" Also, don't overlook the ample opportunities for vista-viewing off into the "Punchbowl" and New Mexico. Deer and elk are common in the area, as well as large raptors and bears. If the bike loop and high elevation is not enough to wipe you out, then take a walk on the wild side and stroll to the top of Arizona's third highest peak, Escudilla Mountain; remembering of course, that bikes get left behind at the trailhead because Escudilla Mountain is a wilderness!
Williams Valley Loops
During the winter, Williams Valley is covered with a fluffy blanket of snow that makes this one of the Southwest's premier winter recreation areas. After the snow melts away, the established skiing trails are used as one of Alpine's best mountain biking areas. This non-motorized area is prime for exploring large meadows and some of the finest aspen forests in the state. Most of the trails are smooth and rolling, but there are two hills that will make you grunt on the way up, and scream all the way doooooooooown!
George's Lake Trail
The George's Lake Trail has a few fairly hard uphill grunts and some quick descents. Although the trail is located on a bumpy old logging road, the scenery is quite wonderful. George's Lake is a good location for lunch or a quick breather and, if you are lucky enough, some waterfowl might be seen at the quiet little lake. Even though this trail begins right outside of Alpine, it has the reputation for being the least used route.
Luna Lake Loops
The trailhead is a short distance from the Luna Lake Campground, making this a convenient ride when fishing is slow at the lake. These two ponderosa pine-clad loops offer fantastic opportunities for watching out-of-water wildlife. The two loops are also located adjacent to the George's Lake Trail, which allows for an adventurous bicycling route to and from Alpine.
Hannagan Meadow Loop
This is a great route for encountering wildlife and for spinning those knobbies on a pleasant ride along meadows, through tall-treed forests and groves of aspen. There is plenty of camping in the area and opportunities for more biking are close at wheel on the Ackre Lake Trail. Also, don't forget that the Blue Range Primitive Area, just across Hwy. 191, offers hundreds of miles of waffle-stomping good times for your walking shoes! Remember please the Blue Range Primitive Area is managed like a wilderness and bicycles are not allowed!
Ackre Lake Trail
Mountain bikers will find this singletrack trail especially enjoyable since it was designed with bikers and skiers in mind. This winding path meanders through aspen stands, broad cienegas, and thick conifer forests. Opportunities to spy elk and deer are endless as well as a quick glimpse of a bear or woodland hawk. There is also an interpretive brochure for the trail. While it may raise your adrenaline level to go fast, you may want to slow down a little and learn about mixed-conifer ecology and forest management in a high-elevation forest.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication