Directions: Traveling through Heber on AZ 260, turn right directly past Tall Timber recreational park onto FR 50. Drive about 6 miles until you see the hiking trail sign for the Pine Loop Trail on the left. There is a large parking area off to your left.
About the hike: This 1-mile loop has an easy rating with a 255 feet elevation gain. The well-marked trail is smooth and easy to navigate from the parking area. Hike down the path towards Pine Loop trailhead.
I headed out at 4:00 pm one evening in August 2020. The trail leads towards a meadow sheltered by towering ponderosa pines standing guard around its perimeter.
Bursts of reds and orange coming through the tree line gave an illusion of a fire, but luckily, it was the sun setting in the west. The trail is a single track and another excellent choice for a mountain biking adventure.
Further along the trail, you come to a spur leading you off on the Maze trail. Today though, I continued along the Pine Loop trail.
I came up over the hill finding three deer and a fawn enjoying their dinner among the spruce trees
The little fawn was so curious, watching me closely as I hiked along the trail.
Check out those big ears!
As you hike along the rim, the forest descends downward along your left side of the path.
The path continues to loop around, coming up to a barbed wire fence leading you back to the trail head.
What is heartbreaking is the dryness and how much decay you find along the trail. This year, 2020, has been one of the driest seasons we have had in many years. Along with the dry foliage, there are also remnants of past fires that ravaged the forest.
Although this particular stump had me thinking someone could turn this into a decorative art piece with a little ingenuity.
A pop of color on the oak tree or in the sky reminds me that the forest will again bloom with color with a little rain.