A Trip to Black River and Big Lake in the White Mountains
of Eastern Arizona



The White Mountains are located on the eastern edge of Arizona. They are high altitude mountains with an average elevation of 9000 feet. The tallest peak in the range, Mount Baldy, exceeds 11,000 feet in elevation. The mountains are heavily forested with pines, firs, spruce and aspen trees. There are many lakes, and several rivers. Wildlife is plentiful--elk, deer, turkeys and antelope are commonly seen.

In the summertime, the mountains attract many people looking to escape the heat of the southern deserts. My wife and I took our turn
in July and camped four days in the Apache Sitgreaves Forest off a spur road near Wildcat Crossing on the Black River. Black River is well-known for its scenery and trout and smallmouth bass fishing. This was not our first trip to the river. When our kids were
younger we would hike with them down into the canyon to fish and play in the water. But this was our first trip back in quite a few years.

We got lucky and managed to find our way back to the same jump-off point on the canyon rim that we had used years ago.
The big difference was that it seemed much further to the bottom and much steeper than what I had remembered! Once we were at the bottom, the scenery was just as great as it always had been.

The fishing was pretty slow. We did catch a couple of bass and a couple of fish that I did not recognize. Back home we were
told that they were roundtail chub a native Arizona fish. When the clouds became dark in the early afternoon, we wrapped it up and chugged our way back to the rim. Boy, did it take some effort!

Click on photos to enlarge:



We have always enjoyed driving the forest roads in the White Mountains. The opportunity to spot wildlife and the scenic views
always make the trips worthwhile. This time out , we drove a large loop that started on Forest Road 25 near where we were camped. We drove it eastward to Forest Road 24 where we turned to the north several miles to an intersection that took us out to Highway 191 at Hannagan's Meadow. From there we traveled the highway north to Alpine and Springerville. West of Springerville, we picked up the paved
road to Big Lake hit Forest Road 25 and returned to our camp. The following photos were taken along Forest Roads 24 and 25.
On that particular day there was a lot to see!



We concluded our trip to the White Mountains with a kayak paddle on Big Lake. Big Lake is the largest lake in the White Mountains. The area is very popular with campers and trout fishermen. I generally avoid the area because of the congestion. We had never paddled the lake in our kayaks so we decided to give it a try. Surprisingly the water was warm and was not uncomfortable
to wade in. The air temps were high enough that I found it ok to paddle in just a T shirt. And the weather although it looked very
threatening never produced any thunder, lightning or rain until several hours later. If only the fishing could have been better.