PINE CANYON TRAIL, Ariz. — There are so many different ways to hike Pine Canyon Trail, but if you are going to hike it all the way through then you need to take a shuttle and park one car at the other side.
That’s the way we did it. One website said this hike is eight miles; another said it was 16 miles, but the trail has also been reconfigured somewhat in the last couple years. My GPS clocked it at 12 miles all the way through.
Those who only have one car can park at either side and hike in and out as long as they want.
Aside from the scenic views of the surrounding hills and mountains, our two main goals were to see the creek and the flowers and have the joy of a workout as we climbed to the top and got a view of the Mogollon Rim.
Hike in from the trailhead begins in Pine and I had the joy of getting a work-out climbing about 1,800 feet out.
The elevation at Pine is about 5,300 feet, but at the top of the Mogollon Rim, one sits at about 7,100 feet. After that climb you do want to sit down for a spell.
Those who do not want to climb can start at the top and just walk out to the bottom if they have a car waiting at the other end.
If the 12 mile hike isn’t enough, there are many trails this trail links into, including Pine View Trail, Geronimo Trail and Bearfoot Trail.
If that’s not enough, you can hook into the Highline Trail, which takes hikers to Payson.
And if that’s not enough, Pine Canyon Trail is part of the Arizona Trail. The Arizona Trail sign told us it was 337 miles to Utah or 465 miles to Mexico. So the options could take days or months.
The Pine Canyon Trail, climbs quickly as hikers go by Alligator Juniper and Arizona White Oak trees. It’s not long before manzanita and scrub oak are on the side of the trial.
The start of the trail gives hikers a great view of the small community of Pine.
It’s about eight miles before you get back down to around 5,500 feet where there’s a camp. This is also where the creek begins, the flowers burst up to greet you and many side trails make their appearance. As soon as you go to the right, a fern forest begins. A tiny cave and tons of mushrooms are also found, some bright orange.
Along the creek, maples, alders and oaks are growing. Columbines and red monkeyflowers also grow along the creek.
Along the upper part of the trail many trees have fallen, bushes are overgrown and some large rocks take up part of the trail. Trail maintenance has not been at a premium on a large part of this part of the trail.
Deer, elk and javelina have been seen on this trail.
There are many different variations of this trail, but, I believe, reaching the creek should always be the biggest goal.