Winter is one of the busiest seasons in Greer because the town is so close to the Sunrise Park Resort ski area (tel. 800/772-7669 or 928/735-7669; www.sunriseskipark.com). Located just off Ariz. 260 on Ariz. 273, this ski area, the largest and most popular in Arizona, is operated by the White Mountain Apache Tribe. It usually opens in November, but thaws and long stretches without snow can make winters a bit unreliable. Although there are some good advanced runs, beginner and intermediate skiers will be in heaven. I've rarely seen so many green runs starting from the uppermost lifts of a ski area, which makes this a very family-oriented place. The ski area encompasses three mountains, including 11,000-foot-tall Apache Peak. A ski school offers a variety of lessons. Lift tickets cost $49 for adults, $42 for youths, and $28 for children 12 and under. Ski rentals are available here and at numerous shops in Pinetop-Lakeside.
More than 13 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails wind their way through forests of ponderosa pines and across high snow-covered meadows at Sunrise. These trails begin at the Sunrise General Store (tel. 928/735-7669, ext. 2180), located at the turnoff for the downhill area. All-day trail passes are $7 for adults and $4 for children ages 10 to 14, and rental equipment is available. When there is enough snow, there are also good opportunities for cross-country skiing in Greer. At 8,500 feet, the alpine scenery in this area is quiet and serene.
Come summer, the ski slopes and cross-country ski trails become mountain-biking trails and, when combined with the nearby Pole Knoll trail system (14 miles west of Springerville/Eagar on Ariz. 260), provide mountain bikers with 35 miles of trails of varying degrees of difficulty. In the summer, mountain bikers can get an all-day lift pass for $20. If you aren't mountain biking and just want to ride the lift to the top of the mountain, the charge is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children 12 and under.
Some of the best mountain hiking in the state is at Mount Baldy.
This area offers some of the finest mountain hiking in Arizona, and my favorite area trail is up 11,590-foot Mount Baldy, the second-highest peak in Arizona. This peak lies on the edge of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and is sacred to the Apaches. Consequently, the summit is off-limits to non-Apaches. There are two trail heads for the hike. The West Baldy Trail, the most popular and scenic route, begins 6 miles south of Sunrise Park ski area (off the gravel extension of Ariz. 273) and follows the West Fork of the Little Colorado River. This trail climbs roughly 2,000 feet and is moderately strenuous, although the high elevation often leaves lowland hikers gasping for breath.
For an easier hike, try the Butler Canyon Trail, a 1-mile nature trail through Butler Canyon, which is at the north end of Greer. To reach the trail head, take East Fork Road, which is 4 miles south of Ariz. 260. From the south end of Greer, the East Fork Trail eventually leads to Mount Baldy. This trail starts with a steep 600-foot climb but then becomes a much easier ascent. Another good choice for a day hike is the West Fork Trail, which begins north of Greer on Osborne Road and meanders through forests and meadows. The turnoff for the trail head is 4 1/4 miles south of Ariz. 260.
Horseback riding in Greer can be arranged through Wiltbank Trail Rides, 38735 Ariz. 373, Greer (tel. 928/735-7454; www.wiltbankstables.com), which charges $30 for a 1-hour ride, $50 for a 2-hour ride, and $70 for a 3-hour ride. In winter, sleigh rides are available.
The three Greer Lakes on the outskirts of town -- Bunch, River, and Tunnel reservoirs -- are popular fishing spots. All three hold brown and rainbow trout. On River Reservoir, try the shallows at the south end. On Tunnel Reservoir, you can often do well from shore, especially if you're fly-fishing, though there is a boat launch. However, Big Lake, south of Greer, has the best fishing reputation here. Fishing is also good on Sunrise Lake; be sure to get a Fort Apache Indian Reservation fishing license ($7 per day for adults, available at the Sunrise General Store).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.