Hike the Railroad Grade Trail in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

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Looking for a long day hike or multi-day backpack? The 21-mile Railroad Grade Trail wanders around 9,000 feet in elevation through the meadows and forest of the White Mountains near Big Lake.

Getting There: 

  • State Route 260 Trailhead: From Show Low, go 36 miles east on State Route 260 to a point 1.5 miles beyond SR 273 at milepost 379. The signed trailhead is on the right. Paved roads. Restrooms.
  • Sheep Crossing Trailhead: From Show Low, go 35 miles east on State Route 260 to State Route 273 at milepost 377. Turn right and go 8.8 miles south to the trailhead on the right at milepost 391. Paved roads.
  • Lightning Ridge Trailhead: From SR 260, go 14.3 miles south on AZ 273 on Forest Road 116. Turn right and drive a few yards to the trailhead on the right. Trail begins across the road.
  • Railroad Cove at Big Lake Trailhead: From SR 260, go 14.3 miles south on SR 273 to FR 116. Turn right and continue 2.8 miles to FR 249E, turn left and drive 1.8 miles to FR 249G. Turn left and follow the road 0.3 mile to the parking area. FR 116 and 249E/G are sedan-friendly dirt.

Length: 21 miles one way

Rating: easy

Kid Friendly: NO

Pet Friendly: YES

Elevation: 8,950-9,350 feet

Best Season: May-October

Facilities: restrooms at north trailhead


Photo credit Mare Czinar/PHOENIX


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