Pine Trail Loop Is Easy Hike

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Daniel Conley, 12, enjoys the Pine Trail loop on a bike, while a woman takes a more traditional approach to the trail. The trail is easy enough for children to enjoy and a great spot for beginning hikers to get a feel for the Rim Country's altitude and atmosphere.

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Near the entrance to the Pine Trail loop, there is a level, open area where groups sometimes camp. There are also commercial camping areas for RVs and fifth-wheelers within the communities of Pine and Strawberry.

At the Pine Trailhead, you'll see many hiking options (and a bathroom to visit before you get started). The trailhead is one of the entry points to the Highline Trail, which is a total of about 50 miles in length.

Now, before you throw down this paper in despair, stop. The Highline Trail stretches parallel to and below the Mogollon Rim. It starts at the Pine Trailhead, which is below the Rim. It goes all the way past the 260 Trailhead and past the Visitors Center on top of the Rim near Woods Canyon Lake.

You can still enter the Pine Trailhead and hike just a couple of miles, without having to do the entire 50-mile trek.

I wanted to take my children on an easy hike in the Pine area. We made a loop around the Pine View area. You'll walk through an old wooden post entryway and start climbing through some nice, yellow wildflowers.

Take the trail that is on your immediate right. It's a nice trail that winds its way through ponderosa pines and eventually to a creek that you can cross.

You can hike or bike this trail. Many people take their dogs (on leashes). Stay on the trail, veer toward the left and follow the forest service signs to your left. Eventually the trail winds around the side of the mountain, where you'll see a section of ponderosa pines that were heavily devastated by bark beetle infestation. You'll also see great views of Pine and cabins in the distance.

The trail makes a big loop, and you'll end up coming down the hill back to the wooden entryway and the parking lot.

The loop will take you about 2 miles. There are places to stop along the way to sit and have a picnic or just rest.

The trail is flat much of the way, so it's good for children. They can play on the logs along the creek bed and the trail is shaded most of the way.

Adjacent to the parking area is a flat area where people sometimes camp overnight, mainly in groups.

Information on the Highline Trail

It was established in the late 1800s to link various homesteads under the Rim.

Several side trails provide access to the top of the Rim.

Among the destination options along the trail: Dripping Springs is 2 miles from the entrance to the trailhead; Pine Creek, 4 miles; Highway 87, 7 miles; the Donahue Trail is 1-1/2 miles from the entrance; and the Geronimo Trail is about 8 miles away.

The area's intermediate hikers report the Donahue Trail is a very hard hike and is steep.

Author Zane Grey used some of the trails when he visited the area in the 1920s.

Editor's note: Visit the replica of the Zane Grey Cabin in Payson's Green Valley Park to learn more about the man given credit for inventing the Western novel. Many of his books were set in the Rim Country and featured fictionalized versions of the men and women he met during his visits to the area.

AT A GLANCE

What: Pine Trailhead (entry to Highline Trail) and Pine Trail loop. This is just a loop around the area, it is not marked "Pine Trail Loop," Just follow easy directions from the article..

Where: Take Highway 87 north from Payson, about 15 miles

What you'll see: Ponderosa pines; wildflowers in spring, summer and fall; junipers and pine trees; a flowing creek in spring and fabulous views of Pine from many of the trails.

Level: Easy to difficult hikes, depending upon which trail you choose.

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