Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests
Springerville Ranger District
This 20-mile driving loop on Forest Roads (FR) 117 and 118 passes through high-elevation grassland, ponderosa pine, aspen and mixed conifer forest. The north slope of Greens Peak and the surrounding mixed conifer and aspen forest is a traditional place to look for elusive blue grouse. This route is also good habitat for three-toed woodpecker and Williamson’s and red-naped sapsucker.
Elk, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and Merriam’s turkey are frequently seen from the road, especially at sunrise and sunset. An occasional black bear also can be found here.
Leaving State Highway 260 on FR 117, check Beehive Spring (1.2 miles from Highway 260) for sapsuckers. Continue another three miles on FR 117 to the intersection with FR 61. A short jaunt on FR 61 leads to the fire lookout atop Greens Peak for a panoramic view of the surrounding forest. Clark’s nutcracker, red-breasted nuthatch and golden-crowned kinglet are found in this area. Burnt Mill Spring is 4.2 miles from the junction of FR 117 and 61.
A short walk in the mixed conifer forest around the spring can be quite productive for birds, including red crossbill, western tanager, ruby-crowned kinglet, yellow-rumped warbler, brown creeper and gray jay. Look in the aspen stands for sapsuckers, blue grouse, northern flicker, mountain chickadee and Cooper’s hawk. Bird species in grassland habitats include western and mountain bluebirds, horned lark, northern harrier and red-tailed hawk.
Habitat: Ponderosa pine forest, mixed conifer, high-elevation grassland
Seasons: Spring, summer and fall.
Location: At the junction of Highway 260 and FR 117 (milepost 380.2), go four miles on FR 117 to the intersection with FR 61 (the spur to Greens Peak). At the junction of FR 117 and 61, continue on FR 117 another seven miles to the junction of FR 117 and 118. Take FR 118 back to Highway 260, which is 10 miles.
Access: 24 hours daily. The gravel road is suitable for passenger cars in good weather.
Near: Eagar or Springerville
What You Might See