Pinetop-Lakeside is a second hometown for many Arizonans. In the summer, it’s a haven from the Valley’s tripledigit temperatures; in winter, it’s a skier’s playground.
But the in-between period is kind of nice, too.
"We’re getting into fall, which is actually the best time of the year to be up here," says John Vuolo, the towns’ director of parks and recreation. There are still wildflowers on the trails, the air is crisp and the nights are cool. Soon the leaves will change color, and the number of tourists will slowly drop.
Pinetop -Lakeside, two towns that grew into each other, has long been a stomping ground for outdoor types. The 180-mile White Mountain Trail system that surrounds the towns is used by mountain bikers, horseback riders and hikers. The Country Club Trail and the Springs Trail are relatively easy and accessible from town; maps of the trails are available at the chamber of commerce.
"The first couple of weeks in October are perfect," Vuolo says. "You can walk three or four miles along aspen trails and see the leaves change."
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
• Catch the Fall Festival 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Blue Ridge Elementary School, 1200 W. White Mountain Blvd., Lakeside. More than 150 artists will sell their arts and crafts. O ther festivities include a car show, 10K run, chili cookoff and concert. (800) 573-4031.
• Eat at Chuckwagon Steak House, 4048 Porter Mountain Road, Lakeside, (928) 368-5800, or Charlie Clark’s Steak House, 1283 E. White Mountain Blvd., Pinetop, (928) 367-4900.
• Stay at Hogan’s Lake of the Woods, 2244 W. White Mountain Blvd., Lakeside. Cabins and houses. Guests fish for free. (928) 368-5353 or