Big Springs Trail Point 10

Number10Wonderful Wetlands

Riparian DestructionWater in the arid Southwest is scarcer than it was a thousand years ago. Millions of people now compete with wild systems for the limited water that remains.

CattailsHuman impact over the last century have reduced riparian habitats in Arizona from 10% to just 1% of the state’s total land area. Conserving the remaining natural areas like Big Springs and maintaining their important water quality and wildlife benefits is critical.

Wetlands are nature’s water purifiers. Vegetation and microbes filter and purify water, remove toxins and excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous, and trap polluting sediments. They act as natural sponges that capture and slowly release water over time, reducing the impact of floods, and allow water to recharge water tables.

Plant roots bind the soil and plants bend flat during high flows to prevent erosion. Wetlands provide habitat for a wide variety of fish and wildlife species, and support complex food webs, making them one of our most productive habitats. Visit the wetland interpretative displays at the Nature Center, immediately adjacent to Big Springs.

Trail Themes

The numbered posts correspond to the symbols below and the points of interest you’ll encounter along the trail. Each point is described in this guide. The symbols relate to these key interpretative themes:


Please tread lightly by staying on trails.
“Take only pictures and memories – leave only footprints.”

Trail pages

Trail Point 1

Trail Point 2

Trail Point 3

Trail Point 4

Trail Point 5

Trail Point 6

Trail Point 7

Trail Point 8

Trail Point 9

Trail Point 10

Trail Point 11

Trail Point 12

Trail Point 13

Big Springs is located on Woodland Road, ½ mile south of White Mountain Blvd. (State Route 260), adjacent to the White Mountain Wildlife & Nature Center. Many improvements have been made at Big Springs to facilitate environmental education and public use. Many such improvements were funded by the Arizona Game and Fish Heritage Fund, established by voter initiative in 1990, with funding from the Arizona lottery. The latest improvements and  brochure printing were funded by a Secure Rural Schools Act grant from the U. S. Forest Service to the White Mountain Nature Center. Big Springs is managed under a unique partnership. Land ownership is national forest, with a  special use permit for an outdoor classroom issued to the Blue Ridge Unified School District. These partners cooperate in its management and enhancement: