Fall, when the aspens turn the mountainside gold, is one of the most popular times of year in this area -- there are only a few places in Arizona where the fall color is worth a drive, and this is one of them.
Not far outside Alpine, there's cross-country skiing at the Williams Valley Winter Recreation Area, which doubles as a mountain-biking trail system in summer.
If you're looking to fish, try Luna Lake, east of Alpine off U.S. 180. Here at the lake, you'll also find some easy-to-moderate mountain-bike trails that usually offer good wildlife-viewing opportunities. The best hike in the area is the trail up Escudilla Mountain, just outside Alpine, where you'll see some of the best autumn displays of aspens. The Escudilla National Recreation Trail leads 3 miles to the summit of the mountain (6-mile round-trip) and involves more than 1,300 feet of elevation gain.
Summer or winter, Hannagan Meadows, 23 miles south of Alpine, is the place to be. Here you'll find excellent hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country ski trails. Hannagan Meadows also provides access to the Blue Range Primitive Area, which is popular with hikers.
A Mexican gray wolf recovery project has been under way here in the remote wilderness for more than a decade. The reintroduction has so far met with mixed success, as wolves have been killed by cars, people, disease, and even mountain lions. Some wolves have had to be recaptured because they strayed out of the area set aside for them or because they had encounters with humans.
Alpine serves as a base for outdoor explorers.
Alpine, at the northern end of the Coronado Trail, is the main base for today's explorers, who tend to be outdoor types in search of uncrowded trails and streams where the trout are biting. Located near the New Mexico state line, Alpine offers a few basic lodges and restaurants, plus easy access to the region's many trails.
This area is known as the Alps of Arizona, and Alpine's picturesque setting in the middle of a wide grassy valley at 8,030 feet certainly lives up to this image. Alpine is surrounded by the Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests, which together have miles of trails and numerous campgrounds. In spring, wildflowers abound and the trout fishing is excellent. In summer, there's hiking and mountain biking on forest trails. In autumn, the aspens in the Golden Bowl on the mountainside above Alpine turn a brilliant yellow, and in winter, visitors come for the cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice-fishing.
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