Along the Mogollon Rim, these twin towns lure visitors with history, hiking, and a taste of lavender honey.

The small, side-by-side communities of Pine and Strawberry fan out along Highway 87, inviting passersby to stop, explore and do some serious forest bathing in the dense woods that envelop the area. Named for the abundance of Ponderosas and wild berries, these two-mile-high towns sit just below north-central Arizona's Mogollon Rim, where ​indigenous ​peoples found the forest and abundance of streams to be life-giving, as did Mormon pioneers, who settled the area to farm and ranch in the late 1800s. Today, second-homers and road trippers flock to the area for its history, small-town charms and outdoor adventures.

Old school

When the location of the Strawberry Schoolhouse was in dispute, several cowboys used calf ropes to determine the halfway point between two settler families' cabins. There, in 1885, the one-room schoolhouse was built using local pine logs and shingles and operated until 1916. Today, it's a historic site, known as the oldest standing schoolhouse in the state, and open for tours (by request). Learn more about local history at the nearby Pine-Strawberry Museum, housed in what was once the local LDS chapel.

Small-town charms

While trees, creeks and trails tempt, Pine and Strawberry's main street, aka Highway 87, is lined with indie lodging choices, restaurants, shops and more. The Strawberry Inn is a newer addition to overnight options. It's a top-to-bottom reno of an older property and now sports a modern farmhouse vibe, with hotel rooms, cabins, cottages, and Airstreams as accommodations—some dog-friendly.

Hungry? Randall House serves breakfast and lunch in what was an old ranch house, dating back to 1881. PIEbar is a draw for its sweet and savory empanadas (with strawberry, naturally, being a choice), coffee and cocktails. Craft beer lovers will want to sample offerings at THAT Brewery & Pub, where an order of wings and a burger pair well with an Arizona amber ale. The small-town charm continues at Old County Inn, a local establishment known for its wood-fired pizzas, where the old chamber of commerce building has been turned into a quaint taproom just off the restaurant patio.

Work off calories with a stroll through an antique store or the Pine Strawberry Farmers Market, where you'll find local products. For soothing aromatherapy, head to Pine Creek Canyon Lavender Farm, where you can get everything from sachets and soaps to lavender-infused herbs and honey.

A bridge not too far

South of Pine, a steep road leads down to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, the site of what's thought to be the world's largest natural travertine bridge, which soars some 183 feet over Pine Creek. Considered a favorite thing to do in Pine, this bridge is accessible via short, shady trails. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the 160-acre park’s lawn and check out the historic lodge, which dates to 1927 and now houses the visitor center and occasional events.

Trail mix

More than 100 miles of trails spiral out from Pine and Strawberry, which is why you’ll see people in hiking and mountain biking gear trekking through the towns. Pine is considered a gateway community to access the Arizona Trail, which runs 800 miles through Arizona from the borders of Mexico to Utah. Not quite up to 800 miles? Just do a short segment of the trail, or try other options for hiking near Pine, like the picturesque Highline Trail along the Mogollon Rim or the more moderate and mountain bike-friendly Bearfoot Trail.

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