Granite Mountain HOTSHOTS Memorial State Park

 Just after the movie “Only the Brave” hit the theaters, GYMOAZ ventured out to the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park. This is a 2.85-mile hike through Weaver Mountain up to an observation deck. There are 19 granite plaques set into the rocks (based on each hotshot’s rank and tool order) with a photo and a story about each of them. At the Observation Deck, you can see the fatality site about 400 feet below. The .75 Journey Trail takes you down to the fatality site where the Hotshots made their last stand. There are 19 Gabions (wirework container filled with rocks) encircling the site. Each steel marker shows the position of where each Hotshot was found.

 This is a one-way trail, not a loop, that is hiked up and then back down equaling 7 miles round-trip. Make sure you bring plenty of water. Hikes should begin before noon or carry a flashlight in case you end up hiking back down in the dark. There are restrooms in the parking lot area at the trailhead and Forest Service Personnel available to provide maps and answer questions. — From Phoenix: (70 miles), 1-17 N to Carefree Highway (74) (west)

Head west on US 60 to Wickenburg (north) Take Highway 93 towards Congress (north), take Highway 89 (White Spar Hwy.) to Yarnell (north), Turn left at Turn-around, Turn right at park entrance. —From Payson (136 miles) Take Highway 87 north turn right on Hwy. 260 and travel through through Pine and Strawberry and then to Camp Verde. Turn right to merge onto I-17 south and then take exit 278 to get on AZ State Hwy. 169 south. Turn right onto AZ Hwy. 69 north and take it to 89 south ((White Spar Hwy.) until you reach the memorial on the right.

The Tour

By Brian Zongker


Many of you know that the White Mountains of Arizona host one of the largest mountain bike races in the state, The Tour of the White Mountains. Put on by Epic Rides, this mountain bike race showcases the White Mountain Trail System. This year’s event was its 22nd annual. I bet you didn’t know that it had been going on this long. Well, it has and the community really comes together to put on an amazing event. There were right


Safer Hiking With Children

By Dan Groebner


    It's hiking season again!  The White Mountain area has some great scenery, lots of wildlife and a very well developed trail system thanks to the TRACKS organization ( and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (  Hiking and camping are healthy and inexpensive activities that just have to be the most popular outdoor sports enjoyed by multiple generations at the same time.



The Top 3 Places in Pinetop/Lakeside That You HAVE To Visit

When you’re visiting Pinetop/Lakeside, AZ, you’re probably overwhelmed by the amount of sheer green you see. Trees outnumber people about a thousand to one (don’t quote me on that) and the greenery is mesmerizing. It seems to call to you. You just want to run your hands through the leaves that shimmer with the sun and shake with the wind. You want to run through the expanse of grass until you come to the end of the horizon. You want to soak in the cool weather and never, EVER go inside. Well, for all of you wanderers who find yourselves lucky enough to be here, we’ve got the full scoop on where exactly you can go to enjoy nature, and Pinetop, to the fullest. Here are our picks for the top three places in Pinetop that will get you up close and personal with nature.


Sunrise Park Resort

Woodland Lake Park

Ice Cave Trail



Pole Knoll Recreation Area

I have to say that this year was the best I've ever seen the Autumn colors. Walking the trails of Pole Knoll felt like walking on a carpet of color through magical tunnels of gold, orange and red. The day we hiked these trails was a picture perfect day with blue skies and cool temps. I just wish .



Mount Baldy - West

The West Trail of Mount Baldy is much more strenuous than the East Trail. It is a continuous climb, combined with switchbacks that ascend to the 11,200' elevation. Very seldom does it level out (like the East Trail) so we kept a slow and steady pace.

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Apache Vista Trail


The trail-head for Apache Vista and the Overland Trails are located on Rt. 261 across from Hay Lake (approx. 7.2 miles from Rt. 260 on the east side). It is a reminder of the destruction wrought by the Wallow Fire in the summer of 2011. Fortunately, not all of the trail was burned and what the fire chose to leave will take your breath away.

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Hiking the Dead Forest

By Anne Groebner


    Escudilla Mountain is haunted by its past. I am convinced that when you hike through what’s left of its ancient forest, the spirits of many past injustices impress their anger or sadness to every traveler who will listen… I heard it. It started with an eerie whisper and then a whistle through the trees and finally a roar of high winds creeping up and over the Mountain …and it sounded a lot like a train off in the distance moving closer and closer, as you stop and listen with intrepidity. It is so loud, that even Katie, a canine companion, stopped and turned her head to listen. It is a warning. “Turn back,” it says, “there is danger ahead.” Of course, I listened but I had tried to reach the top earlier this summer and was stopped by a monsoon thunder shower and I was determined to make it this time. I had no idea what I’d find on the trail. A trail that ran through a forest of dead trees. Their silvery, smooth trunks that barely supported empty branches singed with the blackness that fires leave behind.

    In the year 2011, one of the largest wildfires in Arizona’s history, The Wallow Fire, burned over 535,000 acres across Apache, Greenlee, Graham and Navajo Counties destroying just about everything in its path. Escudilla Mountain, a giant in the midst of the Apache Forest, fought a brave fight but lost the battle against a fire that took over a month to contain. At the beginning of the trail, we hiked through dense and beautiful tunnels of golden aspens — some I assume are the same trees that lined this trail before the Wallow Fire. It is an area that even the fire must have Read more....

Be Like a River

The Thompson Trail #629

By Anne Groebner

There’s something special about hiking along the banks of a river. The sounds of its water flowing and rushing across boulders is soothing to listen to and it makes me feel calm and relaxed. The Thompson Trail, located off Forest Road 116 behind Big Lake and close to the Thompson Ranch, follows the West Fork of the Black River and is one of my favorite hikes around April and May and then later in the summer after the monsoon season. It is READ MORE...

A Visit to Spectacular Antelope Canyon

 By Annemarie Eveland

I stood awestruck, as I dug my feet into the sandy floor of the most photographed underground slot canyon in America.  Like others of the group visiting Antelope Canyon, just outside Page, Arizona, I gazed upward in mesmerized wonder at the brilliant cascading streams of light and sand that poured down from high cracks of sculpted sandstone walls.

  Ancient sand dunes had become twisted into carved formations of sandstone trapped in time. I felt this stunning splendor with a secret thrill and sacred serenity.

   The Navajo consider the cathedral-like canyon a sacred and spiritual place.  They treat it with reverence and respect, and they instruct visitors to honor and protect the site.  One feels the mystical and mysterious there, even amid the large crowds visiting daily.  In early times, prong-horned antelope roamed through the canyon to reach the river—hence, its name, “Antelope Canyon.”  The Navajo call it “The place where water runs through rocks.”

   It is mindboggling to comprehend how this canyon was carved, as a result of millions of



Snowshoeing Country Club Trail

By Anne Groebner


When I ask people to go snowshoeing with me, sometimes, the first thing they say is “I have never done it before!” And I reply, “If you can hike, then you can snowshoe.” You just have to widen your stance a little, keep the tips of your toes up and put one foot in front of the other. It’s pretty easy, but you do have to compensate for a wider and longer foot span and concentrate on not tripping up your step. Once you have accomplished that, you are ready to hike through the deepest snow-covered trail.

After the last storm, we snowshoed a section of the Country Club Trail #631 located off of the Ski Hi Road in the Lakeside Ranger District. We drove to the trail head located on FR 185 and followed the trail northwest toward Pat Mullen Mountain. The scenery was amazing and we hiked through knee-deep snow. The trail is well marked, however, the diamonds that TRACKS posted on the trees are white and blended in pretty good with the snow. The weather this year has provided some pretty incredible outdoor adventures.

Get your winter gear out…there are a couple more storms heading our way.


Tour of the White Mountains


Ride the 22nd Annual Tour of the White Mountains. Located in Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ and offering some of Arizona’s best singletrack choose the gravel grinder or graduated distance single track course options.2017

Lake Mountain Look-Out: Allen Allen

By Anne Groebner

During fire season in the White Mountains, all of our thoughts turn toward keeping the forest from burning down, keeping our beautiful surroundings, as well as our homes, intact. If the past winter has been dry, then we worry even more. We post warnings in every conceivable place so that everyone knows to be careful. Even a spark from the exhaust of a car could result in massive destruction by fire. It’s part of living here. Sometimes the US Forest Service





   Periodically, our electric company mails out a summary of precipitation values for the year. In this portion of the White Mountains, generally the driest time is mid to late spring. In other words, now.

   Given our current temperate weather, I have been mountain biking the local Apache-Sitgreaves (A-S) National Forest Trail System as much as possible. Later in our warm season, when the monsoons kick in, the trails can become a quagmire, making biking nearly impossible. Additionally, in a few more weeks, the trails will see much greater hiking and equestrian use from visiting desert dwellers -- up in the High Country to escape the heat.

   Over the years, I have hiked the nearby Panorama Trail (PT) a few times and have always meant to give it a spin on my bike. This spring, I decided the time had come to pedal the PT. So, on a recent morning, I aired up my bike’s tires, lubed the chain, put a few items in a day pack and set off for what I expected would be a leisurely half-day jaunt.

   Distance-wise, the PT is a very reasonable ride as, at its longest, it is only a 9.5-mile loop. At two points along the Trail, you can reduce the mileage by taking an authorized and well-marked short-cut. The Forest Service trail guide ranks the difficulty of biking the PT is a very reasonable ride as, at its longest, it is only a 9.5-mile loop. At two points along the Trail, you can reduce the mileage by taking an authorized and well-marked   READ MORE...

White Mountain Monsoon Hiking

By Dan Groebner


   Finally - it's raining!  As much as we enjoy this area with few mosquitoes and ticks (relatively speaking), low humidity and moderate temperatures, it can get old when every summer we are wondering if a fire is going to break out close to town and force evacuation of a White Mountain community.  You can't beat the fantastic vistas and miles of a well-maintained and mapped trail system.  Add to that the wide diversity of wildlife and unique high elevation flowers and you have hours of enjoyable exercise.  But the summer monsoon season is a welcome change, even if storms can rumble through with unexpected schedules and intensities, since the storms wash away most wildfire threats.

   However, this area also poses some increased risks during our monsoon season that can turn a relaxing jaunt down a scenic trail into a regrettable nightmare that could have been avoided with a little preparation and common sense.   Most people realize that rocks get more slick and can roll when wet, causing sprained or broken ankles and wrists or worse.  Fewer folks understand the significance of a cold August rain on a family of hikers clad in thin cotton t-shirts or shorts.

   Hypothermia, a potentially fatal drop in your body temperature, usually from getting wet, can happen with air temperatures in the 60s.  A simple insulating layer or waterproof rain gear can buy you enough time to get back to the trail-head before you get too chilled.  A large garbage bag can be packed as an emergency poncho by tearing a hole in the side of it near the normal bottom for your face when you pull it.. READ MORE...

Backwoods Driving; Tips on Getting Back Home

By Dan Groebner

  We're lucky here in the White Mountains to have a fairly well-developed road system providing access to hiking trails, fishing holes and quality hunting habitat.  However, even an interstate can become a challenge to navigate in bad weather and none of our local roads come close to interstate class.  Wet, muddy and snowy roads pose the most obvious challenge but there's as many ways to get sideways in the woods as there are birds singing on an April pre-dawn.  The following suggestions shouldn't be considered any guarantee you can get back home every time but these ideas, and a lot of common sense, will go a long way to help.

  The first rule of every adventure is to let someone know where you are going and when you will be back.  That's a great safety net which relieves tons of pressure in decision making if you get in a pickle.  You will always know that someone will eventually come looking for you and find you if you make it easy for them.    The second rule should be to buddy up with another vehicle that can turn into a shuttle to civilization and provide more hands-on-deck if there are some digging chores involved.

   There's no amount of driving experience, no tires big enough nor no lift kit high enough to prevent serious damage to some softer roads and trails when they get too wet.  You might make it back into...READ MORE...

"Not all who Wander are lost."

 — J.R.R. Tolkien

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