West Baldy Trail Hiking
The preferred of two paths you can take up the Mount Baldy Wilderness, the 13.5 mile West Baldy Trail will guide you through the lush and gorgeous stretches of the tallest mountain in eastern Arizona. While the trail only goes up to the mountain’s saddle, the experience and views are well worth getting as high as you can to admire the scenery of the White Mountains.
You’ll ascend through the characteristic variety of trees that the White Mountains are known for, cutting through pockets of sunlight meadows along the way. The trail passes by the West Fork of the Little Colorado River, full of beautiful water, healthy trout, and various beaver dams. The hike continues on through lush and rocky forest, log coated hillsides, and steep switchbacks. The hike is more of a continued moderate difficulty than a punishing strenuous, but it’s still a good idea to be considerate of how you’re handling the elevation gain along the way. The bountiful wilderness is also a home to larger animals, bears especially, so come prepared and keep an eye out to avoid unwelcome encounters.
The West Baldy Trail eventually connects with the East Baldy Trail at the saddle of Mount Baldy. This is a prime point to take a break and gaze over the views before either turning around or making a loop out of the trails. The summit of Mount Baldy is off limits, as it resides in the White Mountain Apache Reservation and is only accessible to tribal members. While it might be tempting to sneak to the peak, the sacred land within the reservation boundary should be respected— and the fines you’ll incur if you ignore this isn’t worth the trouble.