Overview: The southern Bradshaw Mountains are pretty dry. So finding an alpine lake here is surprising. A nice little trail loops around the lake.
Warning: Horse Thief Road from Crown King to Horse Thief Lake is not routinely maintained. Four wheel drive is not required, but some clearance is.
History: In the 1930s the CCC did extensive work in this area of the Bradshaw Mountains. Besides construction of Hazlett Hollow and Turney Campgrounds, the also constructed an arch dam and created Horse Thief Lake.
Hike: After arriving at the lake, park and proceed north. The path takes you over the rock and cement spillway which keeps the lake fro flowing over the damn. You will need to clamber up about 3 feet to get onto the top of the dam. The arched dam provides a nice walkway and views across the small lake. At the far end of the dam, look back to admire the construction and how high the dam actually rises.
The trail continues along the edge of lake. Cattails and other reeds line the lakes edges, but a few clear places are used by anglers. Bass and bluegills are the predominant fish in the lake. Occasionally visitors may find a fisherman in a small boat casting peacefully. Only electric motors or paddling is allowed.
Various duck species make the lake home. Often you will see mothers and babies patrolling the edges of the lake, sometimes even approaching for a hand out.
Expect to find numerous animal tracks in the sand and mud near the lake. It is a reliable water source. You might even notice the grasses and tender aquatic plants along the lake edge have been grazed down by deer.
A sandbar on the northwestern edge of the lake is a favorite bedding ground for spawning. Look closely in the shallow water for activity.
The trail continues around and deposits you back at your start point. Bring your camera and a fishing pole.
Water Sources: Potable water is available from Spring to Autumn at the Ranger Guard Station and Hazlett Hollow and Turney Campgrounds nearby.
Camping: Extensive dispersed camping opportunities as well as Hazlett Hollow Campground are nearby.
Forest Prescott National Forest Pass
Only trailheads with six "amenities" have fees. Amenities are picnic tables, trash, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.
To hike From Phoenix take I-17 north to the Bumble Bee Exit 248. Proceed 27.6 miles to Crown King. Continue through Crown King .5 miles and turn left on Horse Thief Road. Continue 6.5 along Horse Thief Road and turn left onto FR 52G across from the Ranger Guard Station. Follow FR 52G about a half mile until it dead ends at the lake.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.