East of Springerville in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, the Railroad Grade Trail is a 21 mile route at 9,100. The entire trail follows an historic railroad route offering gentle trail grades and beautiful scenery. Formerly the railroad hauled logs from various parts of the Apache National Forest and the White Mountain Apache Reservation and later hauled tourists from McNary on a tour of the White Mountains. It has been unused for 3 decades.
A unique feature of this trail is the trestle bridge that is 80 feet in length and is similar to the bridges used by the railroad at the turn of the century. It was reconstructed in 1998. The hiking trail also features trailheads at 4 locations so that users have the option to enjoy the entire trail or portions thereof. Each of the trailheads has a toilet and a parking capacity for at least 10 vehicles. These trailheads are located at Railroad Cove at Big Lake, Lightning Ridge, Sheep Crossing, and Big Cienega.
Access: At Big Lake Railroad Cove - on the southwest side of the lake off of Forest Road 249E; at Big Cienega - on Highway 260 about 17 miles west of Eagar
Overall, Railroad Grade Trail is the 40th most popular hiking trail of all 49 hikes in Arizona.