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Cool Arizona Hikes For Summer


River Trail/Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Lynx Lake

One of our favorite little hikes in the pines is the easy trail #311 that circles Lynx Lake. Most of this trail is shaded by trees, and the lake and the forest around it are gorgeous. We often see a huge variety of birds and small mammals, even in the summer.

The paved part of the trail on the west side of the lake is wheelchair and stroller accessible, but once you reach the far end of the laken the trail turns to dirt.

'Bee' Prepared

At this far end of the lake opposite the parking lot, the trail passes through a short area that sometimes has very high vegetation that attracts a lot of insects, including bees. We have traversed it many times, even when the grandkids were very small, and never had a sting yet. However, if anyone in your party has a bee allergy, proceed with caution and make sure you have the proper medication with you just in case.

This trail is mostly level and even, and there are many pleasant places along the path to sit and enjoy the view and the shade. You can even bring a fishing pole along and try for some trout.

Anglers over 13 are required to have an Arizona fishing license, but with the new regulations, you can get them one online for only $5, and you can even print it out right then and there. It's quite a bargain, since this is a combination hunt/fish license! Visit http://www.azgfd.gov.

Leisure At Lynx Lake

The whole hike around the lake will only take you about 45 minutes, and it's the perfect hike for kids. You can also access several other trails from this one if you are inclined toward longer or more strenuous hikes.

There are picnic tables and restrooms at the Southshore parking lot where the trail begins, and there is also water there. Lynx Lake is an awesome place to spend a leisurely summer day, and a day pass is only $5.

Hours for day use sites and trailhead are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from March 1 – April 30; 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 1 – Sept. 30, and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 1 – Feb. 28 (or 29).

Other areas for day hiking at Lynx Lake Recreation Area include -

Boy Scout Trail #126

Highlands Trail #442

Homestead Trail #305

Lynx Creek Ruin Trailhead

Lynx Recreation Trail #311

Lynx Ruins Trail #301

Ranch (62) Trailhead

Ranch Trail #62

Salida Connection Trail #9263

Salida Gulch Trail #95

Salida Trail #93

Seven Mile Gulch Trail #9854

Smith Ravine Trail #297

You can visit the Lynx Lake page at the Prescott National Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov for more information about the trails, and also for information about camping and other activities at Lynx Lake.

To get to Lynx Lake, take Highway 69 to Walker Road, which is just east of Prescott. Take Walker Road south to Lynx Lake. The roads are very well marked and paved.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park

You've got to admit that Dead Horse Ranch State Park has a very memorable name. According to the Web site, the Irey's family came to Arizona from Minnesota looking for a ranch to buy and they found one with a dead horse lying by the road. When the family asked the children which ranch they liked, they replied, "the one with the dead horse" - and the name stuck.

June would be a good time to visit this beautiful place, especially if you want to try your hand at fishing.

Normally, entry to the park is $7.00

per vehicle or $3.00 for an individual or bicycle. There are plenty of places to camp here, including some awesome little cabins right by the water. Check out their Web site for information about fees and reservations at http://azstateparks.com/parks/deho/index.html.

Trails Follow The River

The Verde River Greenway State Natural Area is right next to Dead Horse Ranch State Park, and since it is a natural area there are no restrooms, campgrounds, or facilities here by the river.

Use the park as your base for enjoying the gorgeous hikes along the Verde River. Trails are soft and easy for the most part, and are shaded by the big trees that are nourished by the river.

This is truly a beautiful place to hike, and you can make your hike as short or as long as you like. Kids will love these cool trails that follow the river.

Fish And Birds

There are three large ponds in the park that are stocked with fish, and you can catch largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegill, crappie, and rainbow trout. There is also some spectacular bird watching around these ponds, and wide gravel paths surround them and lead to each.

There are lots of trails at Dead Horse and The Verde River Greenway. Many are shady, but many are not. If you plan to hike in summer, stick to the shady ones along the river unless you start very early in the morning and stop before it gets too hot. Trailheads are located north of the lagoon area or at the end of Flycatcher road.

Warm-Weather Favorites

Our two favorite warm weather trails are Verde River Greenway, which is a 2-mile shared-use trail along the river, which intersects with Quail Wash and Lagoon Trails. The trailhead is located in the River Day Use area or can be accessed on the south side of the lagoons.

Also, the Riverfront Trail, is a half-mile trail that runs along the south side of the Verde River and is perfect for walking. The trail is accessed from either the south end of the Dead Horse Ranch State Park Bridge or from Riverfront Park. You can also rent horses at the Park, and you might meet horsemen on your hikes.

The Ones To Use

To get to these lovely places, follow these directions from the website. Apparently many sites and programs give wrong information, so copy these down and use them: From Interstate 17 go west at Exit 287 (Highway 260 toward Cottonwood). Continue approximately 11 miles to Main Street in Cottonwood (Hwy 89A) and turn left.

Continue through Cottonwood on Main Street (the street will gradually curve to the left). Turn right (North) on North 10th Street. You'll see a brown information sign for Dead Horse Ranch State Park before the 10th Street turn.

Carry Lots Of Water, Lots!

Arroyo Nature Trail

If you choose to hike in Arizona in summer, remember to carry a lot of water. Take more than you think you will need, especially if you have kids with you. Wear a hat and sunscreen even if your trail is mostly in the shade, and get a good map and know where you are going.

Kids should be given a blaze orange hunting vest (available very cheap at sporting goods stores) and a really loud whistle in case they wander off and need to get your attention. The whistle is only for emergency use - it can be heard farther than yelling, and is easier on the throat.

Hiking can be a life-long joy if you use your head, and Arizona has some of the most fantastic hikes in the country.


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