Big Springs Trail Point 11

Number11Trouble in Paradise

ThistleThere is a lurking menace at Big Springs that threatens its rich diversity. Big Springs is not only an oasis for native plants and animals, but is attractive to invasive, non-native species that were purposely or accidentally moved to the area where they displace or compete with the native species.

By crowding out other species, invasives are a major source of biodiversity loss. “Noxious weeds,” like the non-native thistles seen throughout the area, alter our native plant communities.

CrayfishBullfrogs and crayfish are not native to the White Mountains. Both creatures dominate riparian habitats and reduce species diversity by eating other animals, sometimes to the point of extinction.

Bullfrogs and crayfish contributed to the elimination of some native frog species, eating both the frogs and their eggs. They also eat garter snakes and fish. Large bullfrogs can even eat small birds.

Speckled DaceBig Springs is one of the few remaining areas in the vicinity where speckled dace, a native fish, can still be found. Not only do bullfrogs and crayfish eat the fish and their eggs, other nonnative fish released into the area’s waters prey upon speckled dace and compete for  habitat.

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: