Thursday, June 21, 2012
Cool summer hike at Big Springs
BIG SPRINGS ENVIRONMENTAL STUDY AREA
Worth the trip if only to view the swarms of Technicolor dragonflies, a walk through this wetland preserve holds many fascinating attractions. Located just off the main drag in Pinetop-Lakeside, this pristine marsh with its cattail-and-watercress-cluttered ponds and pine-ringed perimeters is a haven for wildlife.
Fed by the perennial waters of two creeks and a spring that gushes 800-1200 gallons of water per minute, the 40-acre property is protected and maintained with lottery dollars from the Arizona Game & Fish Department's Heritage Fund & Watchable Wildlife Program. Interpretive signs along the easy hiking trail explain how the springs work and the importance of preserving riparian habitats. Benches placed in shady spots near the water are handy for relaxing while watching and listening to the local waterfowl. Hawks, jays, eagles, osprey, bluebirds, mallards and blackbirds aren't shy about putting on a show, so you won't have to wait long to see a variety of birds dive bombing for insects over crystal clear waters. We visited here after doing the Lake Mountain loop (see separate blog entry) hike.
LENGTH: 0.5-mile loop
DOGS: must be on leash
KID FRIENDLY: YES!
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 189 miles one way
INFO: Lakeside Ranger District, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, 928-368-5088
Arizona Game & Fish Heritage Fund: