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Big Springs Environmental Study Area

Big Springs Environmental Study Area is 40 acres of natural open spaces located within the town limits of Pinetop-Lakeside. The hustle and bustle of town is forgotten as you step into the trees and meadows of Big Springs.

Big Springs has been developed as an outdoor study area and recreation site for use by local schools, the community, and visitors to the White Mountains. It has been preserved in a natural state by the concerned residents of Pinetop-Lakeside in order to promote an environmental education program for students in the White Mountains. Big Springs helps all who visit become aware of and appreciate the rich natural history of the White Mountains.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, U.S. Forest Service, Blue Ridge School District, and town of Pinetop-Lakeside have worked together as partners to make Big Springs a quality natural area that invites the visitor to relax, learn, and enjoy.


Self-guided nature trails

Hike the 1/2 mile improved loop trail that wanders through Big Springs. The trail winds through ponderosa pines and riparian meadows, and takes you to two streams and a spring-fed pond. Informative signs along the trail explain about the natural history, plants, and wildlife of Big Springs. Hiking here is easy, and several benches along the trail allow for resting and appreciating the view.

Learn about the various important wildlife habitats

Many valuable habitats important to wildlife may be seen at Big Springs. Trail signs will help you recognize them and understand why they are important.

  • Riparian areas/streams
  • Springs
  • Ponderosa pine forest
  • Wetlands and Meadows
  • Snags

Nature study and observation

While at Big Springs you may enjoy many activities relating to nature study and observation.
  • Photography
  • Wildlife observation
  • Plant identification
  • Animal track/sign identification
  • Interpretive wildlife programs


Due to the great variety of habitats found at Big Springs, many different plants and animals may be observed here.
Red-tailed Hawk Bald Eagle Northern Oriole
Turkey Vulture Osprey Western Tanager
Kestrel Great Horned Owl Evening Grosbeak
Mallard Pintail Red-winged Blackbird
Green-winged Teal American Coot American Goldfinch
American Wigeon Bufflehead Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Canvasback Gadwall Dark-eyed Junco
Acorn Woodpecker Lewis' Woodpecker Western Bluebird
Hairy Woodpecker Stellar's Jay American Robin
Scrub Jay Common Raven Mountain Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch Pygmy Nuthatch
Aberts's Squirrel Coyote Big Brown Bat
Elk Mule Deer Black Bear
Raccoon Muskrat Gray Fox
Striped Skunk
Reptiles and Amphibians
Gopher Snake Striped Whipsnake Western Spadefoor Toad
Arizona Black Rattlesnake Fence Lizard Chorus Frog
Narrow-headed Garter Snake Short-horned Lizard Red-spotted Toad
Collared Lizard Great Plains Skink Leopard Frog
Ponderosa Pine Gambel Oak Wild Onion
Alligator Juniper Utah Juniper Wild Iris
Rocky Mountain Juniper Pinyon Pine Yarrow
Aspen Narrow-leaf Yucca Cattail
Prickly Pear Cactus Red Willow Watercress
Blue Grama Grass

Many improvements at Big Springs were funded by the Arizona Game and Fish Department's HERITAGE FUND and WATCHABLE WILDLIFE PROGRAM.

The HERITAGE FUND was established in 1990 by a vote from the people of Arizona. It provides lottery funds for maintaining and restoring the richness and diversity of Arizona's wildlife through management, education, protection, and public access enhancement.

The WATCHABLE WILDLIFE PROGRAM is supported by contributions from you on your Arizona State Tax form. These donations help fund wildlife management and public appreciation of Arizona's nogame wildlife. Please make a contribution on your tax form!




Town of Pinetop-Lakeside
1360 N. Niels Hansen Lane
Lakeside, AZ 85929

(928) 368-8696
(928) 368-8528 Fax
(928) 368-8802 TDD

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