With the weather getting warmer, it may be a good time to plan a family outing to hike and enjoy wildlife viewing in the ponderosa pine country of the White Mountains.

The Town of Pinetop-Lakeside, with assistance from the Arizona Game and Fish Department, recently developed a new trail guide called the “Pinetop-Lakeside Wildlife Viewing Guide” to help you map out a fun trip to enjoy nature and wildlife in eastern Arizona. It comes complete with a local hiking trail map and descriptions of several prime areas in and around the town where you can see a variety of animals.

“The guide will help people to streamline wildlife-viewing trips in the Pinetop-Lakeside area,” says Bruce Sitko, spokesman at the department’s Pinetop office. “Families and friends will be able to plan out which types of wildlife and which areas they want to see and how to most quickly and effectively get from one to another.”

The guide gives directions to local wildlife-viewing spots and information about how to best navigate through them. Most sites have hiking trails of varying distances, while one is a driving loop through the nearby forest. The guide tells you what types of facilities, such as restrooms, campsites, picnic areas and parking, are available at each location. In addition, the guide offers a comprehensive description of what types of animals you’re likely to find in each spot, from elk or mule deer to hawks, squirrels and songbirds. It also includes tips for responsible wildlife viewing.

“We want to make wildlife viewing as enjoyable as possible,” says Sitko. “Making the planning easier and faster will help people get out the door more quickly, so they can get the most of their wildlife-viewing time.”

The guide is available at no cost at the Pinetop-Lakeside Chamber of Commerce and at the Arizona Game and Fish office in Pinetop.

It is paid for by Game and Fish’s Heritage Fund, which comes from lottery ticket sales and is used for conservation purposes, including educating our children about wildlife, protecting endangered species, and creating more opportunities for outdoor recreation.

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