submitted by Nick Lund, TRACKS
The White Mountains Trail System (www.trackswhitemountains.org) is a trail system of more than 200-miles for non-motorized users (hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers, trail runners, bird watchers, forest wanderers, and the like) in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests near Show Low, Pinetop-Lakeside, Vernon, Linden, and Pinedale. Major trails are loops, with connector trails, so users can go on short or long excursions. All trailheads are accessible by forest service roads. Individual trail maps can be printed for free from the website, including USFS ratings of difficulty level and directions to the trailhead, or obtained from the US Forest Service office on White Mountain Blvd. in Lakeside.
Coded, reflective white diamond trail marker are spaced about every 1/4 mile on the WMTS; users who need to call 911 should tell the responding operator the code of the nearest white diamond so they can be more readily located by emergency responders.
TRACKS is a more than 350-member volunteer, non-profit organization authorized by the USFS to plan, build, and maintain the White Mountains Trail System. TRACKS has no membership fee and sends a monthly email newsletter with a calendar of events.
Since it is helpful to go out with others who are familiar with regional forests, TRACKS has email-notification lists for group hiking, mountain biking, cross country skiing, and trail-maintenance work. Tools and hard hats are provided for the trail crew, and volunteers wear good boots, sunscreen, and good gloves, and bring their own water. Each person works at his/her level for a few hours, with guidance from experienced TRACKS members.
There is a general meeting the second Saturday of each month, where members meet others, socialize, and learn useful information.
TRACKS was honored with a National Award for Community Service by American Trails at its International Trails Symposium in Scottsdale.
Trail users observe good trail etiquette: hikers and mountain bikers give way to equestrians; mountain bikers give way to hikers; user stay on authorized trails (to avoid damage to archeological sites and sensitive plants) and do not go on muddy trails (to avoid trail damage). Prepared users carefully check mountain weather conditions, carry a trail map, compass, GPS, and plenty of water; plus they let others know their intended route and leave a message about their route on their vehicle.
The White Mountains are an area of special beauty, serene forests, and great vistas. Trail users often see elk, deer, antelope, coyotes, turkey, and other wildlife of the Ponderosa pine forests.
So get out, get in shape, and enjoy the White Mountains Trail System.