Winter fun abounds in Arizona’s White Mountains
Snow has fallen covering the higher country with a deep layer of snow, making all types of winter recreation available for the winter enthusiast. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and winter camping are available in numerous areas.
No Grooming currently due to Government Shutdown
The Alpine and Springerville Ranger Districts have two areas of groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The Williams Valley and Pole Knoll areas are free to the public.
The Williams Valley Non-motorized Recreation Area offers a wide variety of winter activities. It is accessed by Forest Road (FR) 249. This paved road heads west from
Hwy. 191 just north of the town of Alpine. The road heads up hill for approximately 3 miles to the Williams Valley Non-motorized Recreation Area.
Cross-country skiers can enjoy over 8 miles of groomed trails in the non-motorized area with both easy trails for beginners and more challenging trails for the experienced winter enthusiast. Some of the trails in the trees are closed since the 2011 Wallow Fire due to hazard trees and numerous downed trees. The area also boasts Toboggan Hill for sledding, tubing, tobogganing, and more with clean outhouses, a covered ramada with a barbecue grill and picnic tables. This is a wonderful place for families to spend the day sledding/skiing playing in the snow, making snow angels, building snowmen and sharing a picnic lunch in the snow.
At the far western end of the Non-motorized Recreation Area is a snowmobiling area with a large parking lot at the junction of FR 249 and FR 81. Clean outhouses are also available at this location. This separation is designed to maintain the quiet recreation opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the non-motorized area.
Pole Knoll Recreation Area located near Greer, AZ has groomed trails for the cross-country skier and snowshoeing opportunities in deep powder. This area is located on Hwy. 260 approximately 2.5 miles west of the Greer Junction (Hwy. 373). This area is predominately on the north slope of Pole Knoll with over 15 miles of trails. There is deep snow and numerous trails for beginning to advanced cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Those who make it to the top of Pole Knoll are rewarded with breathtaking views. The expanse of the Colorado Plateau can be seen to the north. To the south numerous mountain ranges fill the horizon. The closest is Mt. Baldy with the white slopes of the Sunrise Park Resort Ski area; to the southeast is Escudilla Mountain and beyond are the Mogollon Mountains in New Mexico. There are clean outhouses, three covered ramadas with picnic tables and barbeque grills.
Hannagan Meadow Lodge located 22 miles south of Alpine on Hwy. 191 also has trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing with large open meadows for winter exploration across the highway from the lodge. The trails are typically not groomed. Six miles south of the Hannagan Meadow Lodge at the junction of FR 25 with Hwy. 191 is an excellent cross-country ski and snowshoe area. This area allows the winter enthusiast to explore west of the highway along Forest Service roads or in adjacent meadows. ADOT typically plows a convenient pullout for parking at the junction of Hwy. 191 and FR 25.
Hwy. 273 past Sunrise Park Resort located approximately 2 miles past the Sunrise Park Resort turnoff on Hwy. 273. Arizona Department of Transportation closes the road at this point with a closed gate, a berm of snow and signage. This area typically gets a great deal of snow due to its proximity to the Sunrise Park Resort downhill ski area. At this location, there is a large parking area, ramadas, and outhouses. Non-motorized enthusiasts can cross-country ski and snowshoe on the west side of the highway. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers can explore the open meadows along the tree line south towards Hall Creek or venture into the trees on old logging roads and create a nice loop.
On the east side of the highway is a snowmobile area in the open meadows. This separation is designed to maintain the quiet recreation opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the west side of the highway in the non-motorized area.
All of these areas are along plowed roads and are easy to access after the winter storms have cleared and roads are plowed. Check weather and road conditions before heading out to enjoy winter in the White Mountains of Arizona. For current road conditions go to: http://az511.gov/traffic/
Remember winter travel can be dangerous. Be prepared. Bring extra warm clothing, sleeping bags, blankets, food, water and a shovel.
Call or e-mail Tom Hollender for updated snow information and current conditions throughout the region. Cell 928-245-7787 firstname.lastname@example.org