There has been a noticeable lapse in hiking over here at Our Hiking Mystery so I must confess to the reason. You see, hiking was foremost a way for the authors to cool off from the desert and the concrete jungle, and then last year, the authors put in a POOL and began to spend more time at home! However, although the pool was put underneath a 35 foot Mesquite tree, there is still an absence of TREES in the life of the Our Hiking Mystery bloggers. Therefore, a pact has been made to get back to hiking. There is something very invigorating about the solitude and time to commune with nature while getting some exercise. Hiking is the best.
Woods Canyon Lake, even midweek, is a busy place during the summer. There is a very strong fishing culture here so I didn't find it to be the best place to kayak for wildlife viewing. Kayaking was tiresome trying to avoid people’s fishing lines. There are some cool narrow arms to explore though. However, hiking was the opposite – none of the fishermen seemed to have any interest in hiking so the gorgeous perimeter trail was nearly empty on a Tuesday in August.
Along my hike, I saw chipmunks, squirrels, Steller’s Jays, Herons, a turtle, and a snake. The trail on the north side of the lake takes you past some typical rugged Mogollon Rim rock formations and past the site of a recent forest fire.
With the dense forest, it’s really easy to see why this area is so vulnerable to wildfire. There are a few steep areas on this northwest portion of the trail with some loose rock so be careful hiking through here.
The steep area leads out to two arms of the lake with a little creek crossing and some lush meadows and wildflowers. This is the most beautiful section of the trail.
Length: 5.5 miles (with the slight spring and summer re-route)
Elevation gain: 100 feet
Time it took us: 2.5 hours
Fees: $5 day use fee or included in camping fee
Directions: From metro Phoenix take Highway 87, the Beeline Highway, to Payson. Then go east on Highway 260 towards Heber, approximately 30 miles, and turn north (left) on Forest Road 300 which is just past milepost 282, across from the Rim Visitor Center, and follow the signage to Woods Canyon Lake.