Pinetop-Lakeside is a small settlement in Navajo County, Arizona with a population of just around 4,500. Most enjoy the outdoor life, although they know to expect plenty of snow in the winter with an average of 67 inches annually – two and a half times the national average.
The snow is no surprise because the town is 6,500 feet above sea level. It was formed by the merging of Pinetop and Lakeside in the middle of the 1980s, with the place now being a significant summer resort because of its outdoor attractions. The result is that it has become a popular place for Arizonians to buy a second home.
The Chamber of Commerce also acts as a visitor center to welcome holidaymakers to the town and advise them on its highlights. Inevitably, it will include these 15 Things to do in Pinetop-Lakeside.
1. Country Club Trail
This trail is rated as moderate and has a total length of 3.5 miles, with parking available in daylight hours at the head of the trail.
You will be walking in forests, Ponderosa Pine and Juniper. You should head off on a spur trail that is only about half a mile long because it takes you to the summit of Pat Mullen Mountain – the effort is worth it.
The fauna you have a chance of seeing on this trail includes elk and mule deer. There are also some smaller mammals, while the birdlife is plentiful and varied.
2. Panorama Trail
Panorama is a 9.5-mile trail rated as moderate. There are no facilities on the trail so take food and water on the walk if you wish.
You will find parking at the trailhead from sunrise to sunset.
When you get to the top of Twin Knolls, the views are stunning – as long as it’s a clear day. There is a wildlife habitat area on the route where vehicles are prohibited in order to protect the environment as a whole. If you have time, you may like to head west to the Timber Mesa Trail on connecting trails.
3. Timber Mesa Trail
This 7.5-mile moderate trail covers a variety of habitats ranging from ponderosa pine to scrubland. Along the way, you will have some great views of Pinetop-Lakeside, Jacques Marsh and Show Low.
Forest birds, a variety of small mammals, mule deer and elk are all found in the region.
Timber Mesa links with other trails, including Panorama, which is accessed via Sawmill Connector and Flume Connector to the north or south respectively.
4. Jacques Marsh Wildlife Area
A manmade marsh area of just under 100 acres, Jacques Marsh Wildlife Area has small islands that waterfowl use as nesting sites. There are no trails as such but you can walk around this area on raised strips within the marsh.
Many residents make this a year-round venue, with migratory birds adding to the attraction – waders and sandpipers among them. Swallows are seasonal but raptors are often around, with bald eagles fairly common in the winter.
The surrounding grassland and wooded area add to the attraction for birds. In addition, elk are often seen coming to drink in winter months early in the morning or at sunset.
5. Ice Cave Trail
This is a trail with a difference because at the midpoint you will come across an ice cave which is fenced off in order to preserve and protect it. Cool air blows out of this lava tube at a constant temperature of 52F.
You begin this trail by walking through Ponderosa Forest, crossing a stream on the way. You may encounter elk and mule deer and a range of woodland birds. Walk along Porter Creek and after passing Scott Reservoir, begin to climb and then link with Blue Ridge Trail.
6. Mogollon Rim Interpretive Trail
This easy one-mile trail is fairly short but it offers some of the best views in the region as you walk on the edge of the rim.
The rim is the dividing line between the Colorado and the Gila-Salt River systems.
A further attraction of this family-friendly trail is its diversity, both in terms of its trees but also water plants. The sedges grow in the irrigation ditch created by the early settlers.
Birds, mule deer, and small mammals inhabit the area around the trail.
7. White Mountain Nature Center
Founded 15 years ago with the aim of education and conservation, this Nature Center is located close to the Big Springs Environmental Study Area with an additional acreage on the Mountain Meadow Recreation Complex.
There are events throughout the year and one of the important programs run by the Center is Raptor Rehabilitation. Even those with no interest in birds cannot help but be attracted by raptors. The program tends for sick and injured raptors with a view to getting them back into the wild.
Workshops, walks and camping all feature in the Center’s work.
8. Woodland Lake Park
Birdwatchers will delight in this Park that has something to offer year-round. Fall and winter is a great time for waterfowl, with bald eagles often seen surveying the waters in the winter. Finches, wrens, warblers, kingfishers, and swallows are seasonal and two species of hummingbird are often seen.
The varied habitat of ponderosa, juniper and oak, marsh and the lake is rarely ever rivaled.
There are a few trails, with the one-mile loop around the lake very popular with families.
9. Fool Hollow Lake
This lake is a delight at wintertime, with a huge variety of birdlife. At the onset of spring, migratory birds continue the attraction of the lake for birdwatchers. It is a popular lake for campers but largely during the warmer months.
Raptors include bald eagles, ospreys, vultures, and harriers, with plenty of prey for them to eat. In spring, many colorful small birds pass through on migration.
The lake offers good fishing as well, with some of the cormorants, grebes, and herons also competing for the fish.
10. Show Low City Park
The park is blessed with plenty of space to offer for kids wanting to play – baseball and soccer fields, basketball and volleyball courts and general play areas. You may never have played Frisbee golf before and here is your chance to give it a try, it’s fun for all the family.
There is a paved loop walk of just over a mile, as well as general play and picnic areas. The section for dogs is proving popular. All in all, there is something for everyone of all ages, as well as their pets.
The town’s swimming pool is close by as well.
11. Show Low Museum
Show Low is just 10 minutes up the road and the museum established in 1995 is worth a visit because it tells the story of the Mormons first settling in the region. Descendants of the first settlers have put together a great collection of memorabilia.
It is located in a building that used to be the Police Station and has 16 rooms, covering 6,000 feet in all. Visitors of the Mormon faith are especially interested in seeing the portrayal of the early days and are likely to be able to exchange experiences.
Entry is free but donations are always welcome.
12. Pinetop Lakes Golf & Country Club
Arizona is a popular golfing state and visitors to Pinetop Lakeside can have a game in the local golf and country club which is open to the public at specific times of the day.
The lovely 18-hole golf course features pine trees and water and measures around 4,500 yards. It may be relatively short, with 11 Par 3s, 5 Par 4s, and 2 Par 5s but it demands accuracy because out of bounds provides another challenge.
The restaurant opens at breakfast and there is a nice wine list for meals after an exacting round of golf.
13. Pinetop Lakes Activity Center & Stables
This Equestrian Center offers visitors a real adventure in this beautiful region. Numerous trails provide great experiences, or why not go back in time and take a horse-drawn carriage ride?
The stables are found at 7,200 feet in the White Horse Mountains, offering training and stabling for locals and the chance for everyone to enjoy some of the 180 miles of riding trails locally.
If you have children interested in horses, you may even like to look at the camps held specifically to teach them more.
14. Spa Estique
When you visit a place like Pinetop Lakeside and spend your time out walking or cycling, one of the best ways to reinvigorate yourself for the next day is to head for some spa treatment. This place opened in 2002 and has been getting great reviews ever since.
Spa Estique offers a range of treatments, from massages to skin care and facials. You have an individual locker and use of sauna, jacuzzi and steam room before a shower. Afterward, you can enjoy the lounge with friends sampling herbal tea and healthy snacks. Bring on tomorrow.
15. La Vie Marketplace & Café
You can combine shopping with a meal in La Vie, which you will find on E. White Mountain Blvd. It makes sense if you have limited time to shop and eat at the same time.
Whether you head there for breakfast or later in the day for lunch, you will find an interesting menu with fresh ingredients, excellent coffee, juices and tea, and a great atmosphere. On nice days, you can sit outside and enjoy the sun.
From time to time, there are special events and promotions, so keep your eyes open if you are around.