Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Pine, AZ

  • Published 2022/08/08

Do you want to escape to a place of unrestrained beauty, blessed with a mild climate, resin scents, fresh mountain air, and towering pine trees?

Head to Pine, Arizona, where the state’s cactus-dotted Sonora Desert turns to snowy towns and ponderosa pines.

Pine is an unincorporated community in the northwestern part of Gila County.

It is a rapidly growing vacation center.

The village hugs Mogollon Rim between Camp Verde and Payson and continues to blossom.

A group of four Mormon families founded this community in 1879.

Noteworthy sights in the town include the Pine-Strawberry Museum, which opened in 1979, and the historic post office, established in 1884.

Bear Canyon Lake and Knoll Lake offer outdoor fun outside of town, and Tonto Natural Bridge is one of the world’s natural travertine bridges.

People know Pine for its scenic environment, beautiful trails, brewed beer, fantastic cuisine, and antiques.

There are many surprises in this simple community with its fine eateries, incredible hiking trails, and weekend hipsters.

Come and discover all the surprises at Pine today!

Discover the best things to do in Pine below.

Marvel at the Tonto Natural Bridge

Daytime view of the Tonto Natural Bridge

Bo Shen /

Tonto Bridge State Park is in central Arizona, believed to be the longest natural travertine bridge in the world.

Located between Payson and Pine, it stands 183 feet above a 400-foot-long tunnel measuring 150 feet at its widest section.

Pine trees surround the bridge, and flowing streams and fern-adorned grottos line the canyon.

View from within Tonto Natural Bridge's cave

Cavan-Images /

A series of underground springs containing mineral-filled water stored travertine deposits, slowly forming the bridge.

Then, Pine Creek, which flowed through the canyon, chipped away a passageway, leaving the standing rocks as a natural bridge.

Today, you can spot a small waterfall trickling down the creek and the strange towering formations seemingly plucked from a movie.

You can stand at any of the four observation points, explore travertine rocks, or hike down one of its trails that descend into Pine Canyon.

Explore the Tonto Natural Bridge!

A waterfall under Tonto Natural Bridge

sd81 /

Try Old-Fashioned Food at Old County Inn

Old County Inn serves fresh, chef-driven food with a smile.

They turn on their wood-burning oven every day to churn out tasty foods and wood-fired pizza, using the best local ingredients.

They have generous servings, and they make all their food from scratch, from fruit juices to syrups in their cocktails to their pizza toppings.

They believe that excellent, well-made food doesn’t have to be expensive or pretentious.

Old County Inn invites you to have a swig of Arizona craft beer and sample amazing pizza while enjoying the pleasant views in Rim Country.

Their wood-fired pies come in various flavors, such as East coast clam, lefty, Pancho, Hawaiian barbecue, roasted veg, spinach, artichoke, and chicken.

Their crowd favorite meat pie comprises organic tomato sauce, smoked pepperoni, homemade sausage, mozzarella, and homemade bacon.

Discover the Past at Pine-Strawberry Museum

Many Pine-Strawberry Museum displays pay tribute to the founding Mormon families’ hard work in building the village of Pine.

The museum relocated in 1990 from a single room in the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Public Library to its current location.

This new location allowed the display of more documents and artifacts, especially those about the area’s Native American cultures.

Also on display were relics of the area’s first Spanish and Anglo pioneers.

Some displays also depict the growth of the community since the original settlement.

The museum hosts prehistoric artifacts found in the Pine and Strawberry Valley areas.

Likewise, they also feature artifacts from the early settlers who used them in their communities.

These are irons, oil lamps, wash buckets, and more items predating 1945.

The Pine-Strawberry Museum’s main room serves the Mormon community of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.

Have a Drink at THAT Brewery

Exterior of THAT Brewery

cogdogblog, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

THAT Brewery is an excellent hangout for foodies, nature lovers, beer enthusiasts, hikers, sightseers, mountaineers, campers, antique shoppers, and home brewers.

Owners Steve and Tamara Morken ran Rimside Grill and Cabins when they converted the location to THAT Brewery in 2012.

The couple has had immense experience in accounting, marketing, inventory control, bartending, dishwashing, waiting tables, cooking, home brewing, and training with a master brewer.

Beers in THAT Brewery

Alan Levine from Strawberry, United States, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

They have developed a distribution network associated with the processes and have valuable insight into the craft beer industry.

Try their flagship beer, Arizona Pale Ale, with notes of fresh baked whole wheat bread that give way to subtle flavors of rose hips, black tea, and stone fruit.

Treat yourself to Monsoon Mud Stout, brewed during an Arizona monsoon storm and light-bodied with layers of dark chocolate and roasted coffee.

Try your new favorite drink at THAT Brewery.

Brewing process in THAT Brewery

cogdogblog, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Taste Sweet Treats at Pine Creek Fudge and Espresso

The family-owned Pine Creek Fudge and Espresso opened in 2009.

This confectionery shop offers the sweetest and most delicious treats in Pine.

It has sweet cinnamon rolls, breakfast sandwiches, custom and spiced-up flavors, and copious amounts of coffee!

They make all their fudge on the premises and put their hearts and souls into every ice cream and fudge confection.

Try their healthy blueberry shake, cold brew with sweet cream, or gluten-free dark chocolate chunk brownies.

Their special treat is the affogato, an Italian espresso poured over espresso chip ice cream.

Nothing is better than seeing customers smile as they try their first bite.

Pine Creek Fudge and Espresso always strives to make everyone feel welcome.

They offer a welcome environment where you can use Wi-Fi or enjoy a breezy afternoon on the patio with your pets.

Feel at Home in the Randall House

Exterior of The Randall House

Marine 69-71, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Randall House started as ranch headquarters for cowboy George Walter Randall and his brothers.

George and his wife, Mary Ellen, remodeled the original log cabin and added rooms while raising their three sons.

Pine citizens then made a tradition of stopping by the Randall House each time they went to town for their mail.

Mary Ellen graciously served plum jams, peanut butter cookies, baked apple pies, and homemade bread to every visitor.

George passed away in 1987, and Mary Ellen followed in 1998.

Special omelette in The Randall House

cogdogblog, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Before she passed, Mary Ellen grew concerned about what would happen to the house after she was gone.

She wanted to preserve something the entire community would enjoy.

So, Mary Ellen got the idea of opening a coffeehouse as her dying wish.

The next owner, Barbara, has gone on to continue Mary Ellen’s tradition.

Today, the Randall House is a place one always wants to visit and keep coming back to.

Smell Wonderful Scents at Pine Creek Canyon Lavender Farm

At Pine Creek Canyon Lavender Farm, you will learn food preservation, heritage food techniques, and culinary lavender classes.

The owners began their lavender operations after asking themselves, “What won’t elk eat?”

They then planted 5,000 lavender plants, and so their operations began.

Their historic ditch irrigation beside Pine Creek gives them natural spring water for their lavender and gardens.

It provides unparalleled hydration and nutrition for the lavender, resulting in exceptional quality and purity.

The dry air and high elevation also provide high concentrations of oils within the plants, giving them increased aromatic and healing properties.

Their varieties include the culinary Royal Velvet and Provence and Grosso, one of the most gorgeous and aromatic varieties.

Every season their lavender grows higher, and they meet many friends in a lovely mountain valley who come to enjoy their farm.

Bring your family to the Pine Creek Canyon Lavender Farm!

Grab a Delectable Snack at the Honey Stand

Exterior of The Honey Stand

Marine 69-71, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Honey Stand will give you a collection of raw and pure honey that you can find nowhere else in Arizona.

In 1980, the Honey Stand started as a raw open-air market that served the public during the summer months.

Over the years, it has expanded into a retail store where customers buy raw Arizona honey.

Their inventory includes seven kinds of pure honey and additional products, including creamed honey, granulated honey, bee pollen, raw beeswax, and honey candies.

You can also buy several jellies, natural fruit jams, and fruit butter with sugar-free varieties.

Other products include pickled garlic, stuffed olives, barbecue sauces, and condiments.

Their products make fantastic gifts, which you can even send directly to the recipient!

If you want to know why everyone keeps coming back, drop by the Honey Stand and see for yourself.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Connect with Nature at Tonto National Forest

View of Mogollon Rim at Tonto National Forest

Ingrid Curry /

Tonto National Forest is Arizona’s largest national forest, just an 8-minute drive from Pine.

You can find it in nearby Chandler, Arizona.

It features some of the country’s most rugged and stunningly beautiful lands.

The forest has lush wilderness areas, miles of beauty at the Mogollon Rim, flowing rivers, ranging elevations, and some of the country’s best trails.

Stop by Goldfield Ghost Town and learn how this old mining town operated while you go on train rides and mine tours.

Waters of Canyon Lake at Tonto National Forest

Harry Beugelink /

Spend a day out on Canyon Lake, an unexpected refreshing spot in the desert, and go scuba diving, jet-skiing, kayaking, swimming, and wakeboarding.

Awaken your inner cowboy or cowgirl at Tortilla Flat, another authentic remnant of an Old West town.

Go camping or hike trails in the forest and try exploring the Rim Lake Vista Trail, the Butcher Jones Trail, and the Horton Creek Trail.

Spend the weekend at the Tonto National Forest!

View of at Tortilla Flat Tonto National Forest

Jeffrey T. Kreulen /

Refresh Yourself at Fossil Creek

A beautiful waterfall in Fossil Creek

Coconino National Forest, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fossil Creek is one of Arizona’s scenic and wild rivers, flowing at 20,000 gallons a minute from a group of springs at the Mogollon Rim.

Every day, these calcium-laden waters have set down a mineral called travertine which encases what falls in the stream bed.

This ends up forming the fossils from which the stream takes its name.

The public loves coming to Fossil Creek to sunbathe, swim, hike, take beautiful photographs, and birdwatch.

People under Fossil Creek bridge

Coconino National Forest, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is a scenic and lovely place, with the riparian area’s lushness providing a contrast to the harsh desert embracing it.

Many plants and wildlife also thrive in Fossil Creek, including beavers, leopard frogs, otters, common black hawks, deer, and javelina.

Fossil Creek also has several Dilze’e or Western Apache cultural sites.

These tribes lived in Fossil Creek for many generations, before the Europeans came.

Today, their families still consider it their homeland.

Enjoy the outdoors at Fossil Creek!

Dig for Treasures at Paleo Site

About 300 million years ago, Payson, Arizona, and its surrounding region were underwater.

Today, limestone deposits remain from that time, and inside these minerals are millions of aquatic creatures, coral, and fossilized seashells.

This amazing place is called Paleo Site, a spot that captures a time before dinosaurs walked the planet!

You don’t need fancy tools to unearth treasures: a plastic bag and a simple hammer will do fine.

You won’t find any fancy vertebrates or dinosaurs, but there is a whole wealth of other fossils on site.

Since the area was once underwater, you are sure to dig up fossils of kelp, seashells, and aquatic creatures.

Remember to wear sensible, close-toed shoes and pack a hearty lunch, and you’re all set!

Kids and adults will have a fantastic time at Paleo Site as they step into a paleontologist’s shoes and make hidden discoveries.

Dig for ancient treasures at the Paleo Site in Payson, 35 minutes from Pine.

Unearth History at Shoofly Village Ruins

Daytime view of Shoofly Village Ruins

Richard N Horne, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Experts believe that Native Americans once occupied the Shoofly Village Ruins between 1000 and 1250 AD.

The village once held 79 structures, and you can still see their rock outlines, which served as the walls’ base.

At the center of the site, you can view a structure believed to have been a building with 20 rooms averaging 37.4 square meters each.

Around this core areas were 39 smaller structures in clusters and 14 more scattered through the region.

As many as 250 people may have lived within the village walls and made their living by hunting, farming, and gathering wild plants for food.

They had close cultural ties with the Salado and Hohokam people living in the south’s mountains and deserts.

By the time of the village’s establishment, they had developed a distinctive culture.

Trade with neighboring tribes resulted in decorated pottery, jewelry, obsidian, and new architectural ideas.

Explore American history at the Shoofly Village Ruins in Payson, 19 minutes from Pine.

Discover Local Culture at the Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin

Exterior of Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin

Richard N Horne, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spot this museum at Payson, Arizona’s Green Valley Park, a 22-minute drive from Pine.

The Northern Gila County Historical Society operates the Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin.

Likewise, the society preserves the region’s cultural and natural history.

See exhibits of the area’s ancient people (such as the Tonto Apache), the pioneer and Calvary period, and other eras of Rim Country and Payson.

Find the top of Mount Ord Watchtower and the original Forest Ranger Station on the museum grounds.

The Zane Grey cabin is a replica cabin of the author’s first home, made of local Ponderosa pine trees.

Zane Grey wrote 13 novels about Rim Country, often hunting in the forests and fishing in the lakes around Payson.

Learn local history at the Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin.

Buy Fresh Goods at Payson Farmers Market

In 2009, John and Lorian Roethlein opened the Payson Farmers Market to make a difference in their community.

Today, in downtown Payson, 20 minutes away from Pine, the market has created a wonderful gathering place.

Customers can meet with friends and shop for fresh local food in their community.

The market started with 12 vendors in the Community Presbyterian Church parking lot.

Today it enters its 14th season with a prominent location on the Beeline Highway, now thriving with 50 vendors.

As a result, more than 20,000 local Rim residents and tourists can buy fresh local produce.

It has become a Locavore-style market where all food originates from within 100 miles of the market, sold directly from farmer or food maker to customer.

Find bakeries, pet biscuits, free-range beef, gourmet pickles, spices, jams and jellies, fresh honey, and more at the Payson Farmers Market.

Get Some Exercise at Water Wheel Falls

People at Water Wheel Falls

Isabel Eve /

Water Wheel Falls features a short hike along two riverbanks, skipping two rivers on a rustic path, passing deep gorges and dramatic waterfalls.

The hike ends at a flowing cascade, gushing icy water into a natural pool.

Here, the river cascades down an array of small ledges on an inclined level.

This causes the water to deflect from the rock surface on the water.

The Water Wheel Hiking trail takes its name from an ancient wheel located a short distance from the trailhead.

Ellison creek at Water Wheel Falls

Isabel Eve /

First, head upstream from the trailhead along the East Verde River’s banks.

Spot a granite hill above the river a short way into the hike and challenge yourself on the uphill section.

You will see a dramatic waterfall and the spot where East Verde River meets Ellison Creek.

Follow the creek banks to Ellison Falls, finding the cascade rushing down the embankment.

Work up a sweat on your journey to the Water Wheel Falls!

Final Thoughts

Pine is a community with enough warm establishments, outdoor escapades, remarkable history, and scenic vistas to give you memories for a lifetime.

Every visitor enjoys discovering the must-see gems of this community.

Book your trip today and discover the best things to do in Pine!

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