F.R. 87 [Greer to Sunrise Lake]
Climb from the quaint town of Greer to over 9,000 feet on this short but scenic drive through the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The trail ends near Sunrise Lake where numerous additional recreational activities are available.
Where to go:
From Springerville/Eager near the New Mexico border, head west on AZ-260. After 10 and a half miles, turn south onto AZ-373 towards Greer. After 3.4 miles, turn right onto Forest Road 87 just before the town of Greer. From Sunrise Lake, head southeast on AZ-273. After 4.2 miles, make a sharp left onto Forest Road 87. Staging and camping is available on the right after half a mile. If you’re riding anything that needs to be staged, it is best to ride this west to east. Then you can grab lunch in Greer and head back.
From paved AZ-373 in Greer, immediately head west on Forest Road 87. The road turns to dirt right away. For the next mile, the road passes through a residential area as it climbs and turns to the south. After 1.0 mile, the trail enters the dense and scenic Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. At 3.0 miles the trail begins leveling off after topping 9,000 feet. The trail now heads southwest.
After 3.2 miles, stay straight where a lesser forest road goes right to White Mountain Reservoir. Consider checking it out. After 3.2 miles, the trail enters a wide meadow filled with small streams. This section is exceptionally scenic. Off to the right at 4.5 miles is a scenic bridge over a stream. This bridge marks the beginning of the Apache Railroad Multi-use trail which leaves to the right at this point. The trail is on an old railroad bed that used to haul logs from the surrounding area. Today, it is open to foot traffic and bikes but closed to all motorized vehicles except snowmobiles – that’s right, snowmobiles are used up here. After the bridge, the trail maintains its’ high elevation and passes a camping/staging area off to the left at 5.3 miles. The trail ends at paved AZ-273 about 4 miles south of Sunrise Lake.
Greer: The small town of Greer is a great place to relax for the weekend and extend your trip. With a year ‘round population of just 41, during the summer months, tourists flock to the cool meadows for relief from the heat. There are numerous cabins for rent as well as several campgrounds in town. If you just want to pass through, grab lunch at the Greer Café or hit one of the many restaurants and markets, then hit the trail back. There is no gas available in Greer.
Sunrise Lake: Sunrise Lake, situated at over 9,000 feet is located at the base of Sunrise Ski Resort. While this trail is closed in the winter, the resort if open year ‘round. Sunrise Lake offers fishing, kayaking and boating. The resort itself has a lift ride to even higher elevations, hotel rooms, and numerous other outdoor activities. It’s easy to extend your time by finding something to do at Sunrise Lake. Pro-tip: Kayaking at 9,000 feet is a good workout.
Notes & Trail Ratings:
This is a short but scenic trail connecting Greer and Sunrise Lake. We stumbled upon it by accident and were glad we did. After having lunch in Greer, we re-did the trail to get back to Sunrise Lake for some kayaking. The trail itself is just under 6 miles one-way and should take far less than an hour. This is your typical forest road. We’ve rated it a ‘1’ out of ‘10’. Nearly any car can do the main trail. Numerous side trails branch off and have varying difficulty. Because of the high elevation, unless you have a snowmobile, this trail and the surrounding paved roads are not open in the winter time.