Old forts and casinos aside, it's the outdoors (and the cool weather) that really draws people here. Fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding are among the most popular activities. Between mid-May and the end of October, you can saddle up at Porter Mountain Stables, 4048 Porter Mountain Rd. (tel. 928/368-5306), which charges $30 for adults ($27 for children) for a 1-hour ride, $48 for adults ($45 for children) for a 2-hour ride. Half-day, all-day, and sunset rides are also offered.
Meandering through the forests surrounding Pinetop-Lakeside are the 180 miles of trails of the White Mountains Trail System. Many of these trails are easily accessible (in fact, some are right in town) and are open to both hikers and mountain bikers. The trails at Pinetop's Woodland Lake Park are among my favorites. The park is just off Ariz. 260 near the east end of Pinetop and has 6 miles of trails, including a paved path around the lake. For a panoramic vista of the Mogollon Rim, hike the short, flat Mogollon Rim Interpretive Trail off Ariz. 260 on the west side of Lakeside. For another short but pleasant stroll, check out the Big Springs Environmental Study Area, on Woodland Road in Lakeside. This quiet little preserve encompasses a small meadow through which flows a spring-fed stream. There is often good bird-watching here. You can spot more birds at Woodland Lake Park, mentioned above, and at Jacques Marsh, 2 miles north of Ariz. 260 on Porter Mountain Road in Lakeside. For more information on area trails, contact the Lakeside Ranger District, 2022 W. White Mountain Blvd., Lakeside (tel. 928/368-2100; www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf), on Ariz. 260 in Lakeside, or the Pinetop-Lakeside Chamber of Commerce.
If you're up here to catch the big one, you can try for native Apache trout, as well as stocked rainbows, browns, and brookies. This is also the southernmost spot in the United States where you can fish for arctic graylings. Right in the Pinetop-Lakeside area, try Woodland Lake, in Woodland Lake Park, toward the east end of Pinetop and just south of Ariz. 260, or Show Low Lake, east of Lakeside and north of Ariz. 260. On the nearby Fort Apache Indian Reservation, there's good fishing in Hawley Lake, which is east of Pinetop-Lakeside and south of Ariz. 260. If you plan to fish at this latter lake, be sure to get a reservation fishing license ($7 per day). Licenses are available at the Hon-Dah Service Station, at Ariz. 260 and Ariz. 73 (tel. 928/369-4311), and at Hon-Dah Ski & Outdoor Sport, also at Ariz. 260 and Ariz. 73 (tel. 928/369-7669).
Several area golf courses are open to the public, including Pinetop Lakes Golf & Country Club, 4643 Buck Springs Rd., Pinetop (tel. 928/369-4531; www.pinetoplakesgolf.com), considered one of the best executive courses in the state (play this one if you have time for only one round while you're in the area); Silver Creek Golf Club, 2051 Silver Lake Blvd., Show Low (tel. 928/537-2744; www.silvercreekgolfclub.com); and the Bison Golf & Country Club, 860 N. 36th Dr., Show Low (tel. 928/537-4564; www.bisongolf.net).
About 50 miles south of Show Low, U.S. 60 crosses a bridge over the narrow and scenic canyon of the Salt River. This stretch of the river is a favorite of white-water rafters, and several companies offer rafting trips of varying lengths. Try Wilderness Aware Rafting (tel. 800/462-7238; www.inaraft.com), Canyon Rio Rafting (tel. 800/272-3353; www.canyonrio.com), or Mild to Wild Rafting (tel. 800/567-6745; www.mild2wildrafting.com). Prices are between $119 and $151 for a day trip.