Leisurely hike past a reservoir to a lava tube cave.

Right off Arizona Highway 260 at Porter Mountain Rd., you'll find this easy out-and-back hike that will wind you past Scott Reservoir to an ancient lava tube cave.

To access the trailhead, take Porter Mountain Rd. for one mile off Highway 260, the parking area is easily visible about 0.1 mi past the roundabout near the middle school.

The trail, which is relatively flat, but does provide some opportunity to figure out a dry way across Porter Creek when it's running high, abuts private property for the opening mile. You'll pass by White Mountain Stables for some good horse viewing on your right before getting to Porter Creek. Keep in mind the trail is open to equestrian traffic, too, so you might see some horses on the route as well.

After crossing Porter Creek, you'll happen upon the south shore of Scott Reservoir after another 1/2 mile. The reservoir, built in 1928 and stocked with rainbow trout and a few largemouth bass and channel catfish for those of you who want to fish, presents a nice opportunity to rest and breathe in the fresh mountain air - or toss your line in (bear in mind you'll need to get a permit to fish from the ranger station down the road).

Following the reservoir, you'll wind through secluded pine forest and pass by a connector trail for another route before reaching the cave. You'll see a sign and a tepee made out of logs before coming to the cave. There is a fence surrounding the cave for safety reasons, but the gate doesn't seem to be locked. It isn't really advisable to try and go down into the cave, as it is quite narrow - but you should be OK scrambling in for a quick peek (be sure to have a light!)

The trail also links up with more of the greater White Mountain Trail System - a great use of time if you're staying in Pinetop-Lakeside or the surrounding area.

Pack List

  • Sturdy shoes
  • Water
  • Flashlight
  • Snacks
  • Fishing reel (optional)
  • Camera
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RT Distance 6.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 600 Feet
Activities Chillin, Fishing, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Forest
Groups
Lake
Scenic

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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