It's a cream puff !
This hike is a real cream puff that I did on a day of rest after a difficult hike the day before. It starts at the Hannagan Meadow campground where the trailhead is found between campsites 6 and 7 and there is a small parking area that can handle 3 vehicles (maybe 4 if parked wisely). You can also walk over from the Lodge or highway 191. It would be a good choice for smaller children as well.
From a pdf file on the Forest Service website: "This trail is trail is here for your enjoyment due in large part to volunteer Don Yates. Yates worked as a campground host at the nearby campground and planned and constructed this trail over a three year period."
The trail is easy to follow and has blue diamond markers on trees along the way. The trail has almost no deadfall for the first half of the hike. The second half has moderate deadfall but none too difficult to get around. The forest is lush and beautiful and filled with tall pines and aspens. The trail stays fairly close to highway 191 for about 2 miles. The highway is lightly traveled but you may hear a passing vehicle from the trail. The trail drops about 400 feet in 3.5 miles and you are almost unaware of doing any elevation. At the lake you may see some folks who drove directly to it which is also possible.
Arriving at the lake early you have time to hike around it and explore the surrounding area a bit. I hiked the dirt roads nearby and mapped out a way to use them to make a lasso hike which provides a new set of views. The map below shows the trail and the lasso. As you would expect, hiking the lightly travelled dirt roads is also easy. GPS is not needed to hike the Aker Lake trail out and back but it would be useful while hiking the dirt roads to make a lasso since you are confronted with several forks along the way and GPS (with the track loaded) will insure you chose the correct one.
The Aker Lake hike is listed in the October 2008 issue of Arizona Highways Magazine as 1 of 15 fall color hikes in Arizona.
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.