Best Hikes in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (AZ)


The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is actually a combination of 2 national forests, administered as one. There are over 2 million acres of this mountain country forest spread out across central-eastern Arizona, all the way to the New Mexico border. Located about 2.5 hours NE of Phoenix, it provides a great destination with its high elevation and cool breezes for those looking for relief on hot summer days. There is a lot of water that drains down from those high elevation mountains that forms the multitude of lakes and rivers that make this such a special place to visit. The forest is very unique to the arid desert landscape that you think of with Arizona. Official Website.

Although it is administered as 1 national forest, Apache-Sitgreaves is a combination of 2 forests and many wilderness areas within. The northwestern Sitgreaves National Forest’s main attraction is the Mogollon Rim which runs 200+ miles from Flagstaff into western New Mexico. Sitting at a 7600′ elevation, the rim and its many trails provide excellent panoramic views to the low lands below. The southeastern Apache National Forest has its own elevated highlights in Mount Baldy and Escudilla Mountain, often referred to as the White Mountains of Arizona. There are 4 wilderness areas: Mount Baldy, Escudilla, Bear Wallow, and the Blue Range Primitive Area.

With 2+ million acres, you can imagine there are plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs on some hiking trails. Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest has nearly 1,000 miles of hiking trails. There are 4 National Recreation Trails: Eagle Trail, Blue Ridge, Escudilla, and General George Cook. Below are some of the most recommended hikes in Apache-Sitgreaves but there are plenty of others that you can enjoy!



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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Hikes in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

  • Buena Vista Trail – 9.0 miles Loop
    • Moderately difficult loop close to Show Low with a good chance to see the area’s wildlife
  • Country Club Trail – 3.5 miles Loop
    • Easy, flat loop with the option to take a side trail up the steeper Pat Mullen Mountain for more views
  • Los Burros Trail – 13.0 mile Loop
    • Perfect trail for those venturing from Phoenix for a longer day hike in the cooler elevated mountains. The trail is shaded for the most part and hikers have the option of going on a side trip to Lake Mountain Lookout
  • Mogollon Rim Interpretive Trail – 0.9 miles Loop
    • Busy trail considering the popularity of the Mogollon Rim. The loop is self guided, flat, and good for all skill levels
  • Panorama Trail – 8.0 miles Loop
    • Moderately difficult loop with good views and a rocky downhill if taken clockwise
  • See Canyon Trail – 6.1 miles Out & Back
    • Beautiful, creekside hike down the Mogollon Rim that passes through See Canyon
  • Springs Trail – 3.8 miles Loop
    • Easy loop good for all skill levels near Thompson Creek
  • West Baldy Trail – 13.8 miles Out & back or One-way
    • Moderately difficult trail that winds through meadows and forested area near the Little Colorado. It then begins to steepen on switchbacks before it merges with the East Baldy Trail below Mt. Thomas. The summit of Mt. Baldy is off limits as it is on the Apache Reservation
  • Woods Canyon Lake Loop – 2.7 miles Loop
    • One of the more beautiful trails in the NF that circumnavigates Woods Canyon Lake


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