Big Springs Environmental Area



Big Springs WetlandThe Big Springs Environmental Study Area is 40 acres of natural open space located within the town limits of Pinetop-Lakeside. The hustle and bustle of town is forgotten as you step into the trees that overlook the area’s meadow.

Big Springs was developed as an outdoor study area and recreation site for use by local schools, the community and visitors to the White Mountains. The residents of Pinetop-Lakeside have conserved the site as a natural area to promote environmental education programs for students and the public.

Visitors to Big Springs become aware and appreciative of the rich natural history of the White Mountains and Mogollon Rim. Several partners worked together to make it inviting for learning, recreating, or just relaxing.


Big Springs MeadowWhile hiking the easy, ½-mile improved loop trail that wanders through Big Springs, many valuable habitats important to wildlife may be experienced and enjoyed, along with the animals that make their homes here. The loop trail winds through ponderosa pine and Gambel oak forest, with great views of lush open meadow, wetland, streamside riparian, and spring habitats.

This self-guided journey explores the diverse and changing natural history of Big Springs for all to enjoy, and is your gateway to Woodland Lake Park.

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:


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