Woods Canyon Lake - a haven for recreationists

A small creek can lead hikers on a much longer hike, if desired.

A small creek can lead hikers on a much longer hike, if desired.

WOODS CANYON LAKE, Ariz. - Higher elevation, cooler temperatures, clouds and rain can be the elements of a good hike during the summer to cool folks off.

Woods Canyon Lake, located on the far western edge of the Mogollon Rim offers all of that. This lake sits at an elevation of 7,500 feet so it will offer far cooler temperatures than Payson, which is 30 miles west of there.

The 55-acre lake offers great recreational activities for fishing and boating. Hikers and mountain bikers can take the five-mile trail that goes around the lake. Upon arriving in the parking lot, the view of the lake is great, but the best hikes are not the ones seen from the parking lot, but to the far right and far left of the lake.

However, all the hikes start from the parking lot. Taking the trail to the right, it goes past the dam and the Spillway Campground. But an easy trail takes hikers down below the dam and that is where the fun begins. The spillway leads to the creek which can be followed for miles, although the further one hikes in the tougher the trail gets.

This is a paradise for those who love birds, butterflies and flowers. Yellow Columbine was among the beauties, but there were also blue, white, purple and other yellow flowers.

The elevation cools hikers off. Clouds made it even cooler. A mid-afternoon downpour didn't seem to bother fisherman and boaters.

The monsoon rain can hit suddenly so raincoats are advised. Plants and trees line the Spillway canyon hike. The hike around the lake has even more trees. This is part of Sitgreaves National Forest. The heavily wooded area includes Douglas fir, oak, ponderosa pine and aspen. Large red and orange toadstools are found along the trail. Chipmunks are also abundant.

Lucky onlookers may see eagles as part of the lake is closed off to protect the eagles.

This rim lake is part of a series of small lakes along the rim. Willow Springs Lake is just about a 10-15 minute drive further down Highway 260. Woods Canyon Lake is the first reservoir upstream from Chevlon Canyon Lake. It was formed by an earthen dam to impound the water from Chevlon Creek so people would have recreation opportunities.

During the winter, the lake may be closed off due to snow. Forest Lakes is the closest community where folks may want to check the weather before heading up this way.

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