Pine Mountain Loop Trail is a 13.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Mayer, AZ that features a great forest setting and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
This is one of my favorite hidden gems on Arizona. A bit of a trek to get to, the other reviewer does well with directions, but it well worth it. Make sure you have at least a half a tank of gas to be safe. Despite coming off the desert road you find yourself in a little oasis at the bottom of the mountain, and then begin your hike up the mountain.
About 1.5 miles in there is a little whirlpool that you can take a dip in the cool off. The hike itself is easy - moderate, becomes a bit tougher once the incline starts. Additionally, once the incline starts, the shaded areas stop so you should bring plenty of water and head cover.
Be aware of the big black wild cows. They don't bother you as long as you don't bother them! Other than them, I rarely see anyone else on this trail.
Pine Mountain Trail #14 is in the Pine Mountain Wilderness of Prescott National Forest. I accessed the trail coming from the Salt Flat trail head. To get there I took the I-17 to the Dugas Rd, exit. I then followed Dugas Rd until the junction with FR68. I then took FR68 to where it ends at the Salt Flat trail head. The last 7 miles of FR68 required a higher clearance vehicle. Travel time from the I-17 to the Salt Flat TH was about 1 hour 20 minutes. The last section of road should not be entered when raining. It is mostly clay. The Salt Flat TH has room for about 10 vehicles and has 5 separate picnic/camping areas. I have been back there twice and only saw 1-2 other vehicles both times. There is a creek with running water in the campsite. To get to the Pine Mountain trail you have to begin on the Nelson trail (have reviewed that trail separately). You follow the Nelson Trail for 4 miles to reach the Pine Mountain trail. The Pine Mountain trail is less than 1.5 miles and is used to reach Verde Rim Trail #161. I actually hiked up the Willow Springs Trail #12 and then along the Verde Rim trail and then back down the Pine Mountain Trail to make a loop. From the Nelson Trail / Willow Springs Trail junction it is a good climb either direction to get up to the Verde Rim trail. There a many camping areas for backpacking along any of these trails. If you make it up to the Verde Rim trail, make sure not to miss the side trail up to the top of pine mountain. It is mark with a small sign between the Willow Springs and Pine Mountain trails. It is not far from the top of the Pine Mountain trail.