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Tuesday, July 23, 2013



The energetic, leash-dragging Labrador retriever appeared out of nowhere as I was loitering on the saddle of Twin Knolls.  Her "parents", who were huffing their way up the slope, called out an apology for their companion having escaped their grasp. The well-behaved dog was wearing  hiking booties to protect her paws from the abrasive cinders laid down by the double cinder cone volcanos on which we stood.  The pup's mom crested the slope, took a deep breath and proclaimed, "So, this is why they call it the Panorama Trail".  "This " is a sprawling vista of
emerald forests, crystalline lakes and majestic White Mountain massifs stretching into New Mexico.  The immaculately groomed trail makes a lasso loop around antenna-cluttered Porter Mountain (7595' cinder cone) passing through shaded oak-pine woodlands, sunny juniper-fleeced grasslands and numerous stock ponds with a traipse across Woolhouse Wildlife Habitat Area.  But it's the views from Twin Knolls--cinder cone volcanoes that anchor the route's southern edge-- that give cause for pause.  Here, we scoped out the elongated silhouette of Escudilla Mountain and the still fresh, ashen scars of the 2011 Wallow Fire.   My new friends--who own a cabin in Lakeside, but had never hiked this route before---eagerly pointed out surrounding landmarks like Jacques Marsh, US 60 and the barely discernible rooftops of Springerville while their dog lackadaisically selected a potty spot. After discussing the approaching storm and our various wet weather gear stashes, we walked off in opposite directions into a gentle rain.

LENGTH: 8-mile loop
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 6750'-7300'
From Show Low, continue south on AZ260 (toward Pinetop-Lakeside) to milepost 350 and the stoplight for Porter Mountain Road (FR45).  Turn left at the light and drive 5 miles (watch out at the 1.5 mile point where  Porter Mtn Rd makes a sharp right turn) to the trailhead on the left.
Lakeside Ranger District, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, 928-368-2100
White Mountain Trails System:

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