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Woods Canyon Lake Trail - Mogollon Rim, AZ

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Guide 115 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Payson > Heber
3.7 of 5 by 35
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Loop 3.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,500 feet
Elevation Gain -94 feet
Accumulated Gain 382 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.81
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
6  2019-08-24
High - Drew - Woods - Vista - Sinkhole Loop
17  2019-08-24
High - Drew - Woods - Vista - Sinkhole Loop
20  2019-05-23 TheNaviG8R
15  2018-08-11
Highline - Woods - Crook - Rim - Sinkhole
10  2018-08-11
Highline - Woods - Crook - Rim - Sinkhole
14  2018-06-02
Woods Canyon / Bear Canyon Lakes
11  2018-05-22 cactuscat
10  2017-10-18 Yoder
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Author msequea
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 54 Male Gender
Location Gilbert, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Jun, Jul, Aug → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:08am - 6:28pm
Official Route
7 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
If you could you Wood
by msequea

Loop hike around the lake.

See this triplog for 2015 price to rent a kayak.

Made this hike with a first trimester pregnancy (my wife!) and our year and a half baby (27lbs.) in a TREK baby backpack. The week before opening (April 28) the campgrounds were open and we hiked the entire way around the lake. I'd say that the last two snows and rain last week did some damage to an otherwise fairly easy hike. Parts of the trail were washed away and made for some moderate bouldering/climbing. Not recommended for those with small children, who rarely hike or who don't have four hours or so. There are three or so places where you can find an outhouse along the way. No water or other supplies except at the dock store where you park.

The trail does go completely around the lake and included a few places where we had to cross snowdrift. If you stay near the water or on the clear parts of the trail you cannot get lost. As the trail follows the lake and it's feeder streams there are a couple places you have to go a bit of a ways up a stream in order to cross and walk back to the lake. Only saw two sets of people once we got beyond the first half mile. Very beautiful and scenic. About 5.5 miles round trip but seemed longer due to the ups and downs and scrambling. Highly recommended and enjoyable. With all the lose pine needles, etc. and rougher parts of the trail I'd recommend hiking boots although my wife did it in cross-trainer tennis shoes with only a bit of slippage.

Near the dam (to the right of the boat dock) there is a nice area with small waterfalls to sit (or sit under!) and enjoy the view as well as the cool mist. In the summer it may have more people or they may not be letting out water but it's worth a try and it's easy to miss if you just skirt the lake and don't follow the outlet till it drops into the meadow below!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2001-04-30 msequea
    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.

    Most recent of 29 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Woods Canyon Lake Trail - Mogollon Rim
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    High - Drew - Woods - Vista - Sinkhole Loop
    Started 7:50am at the 260 TH. The hike over to Drew is one of the best stretches on the Highline. We took a mini break at the Drew junction before the only serious elevation on the loop.

    FR300 was busy. The hike to the lake is forgettable yet pleasant. Then boom. The half mile on the west side of Woods Canyon Lake is one of the nicer half miles of trail in Arizona. Hiking around the lake on well used trails we passed a group of 30+ scouts. We met and had a quick chat with one of the scout leaders Kevin.

    The hike out east of the lake in Woods Canyon low on notable characteristics. Like the Cabin Loop it's easy/pleasant hiking through a forest. Continuing offtrail we find ourselves out of the canyon following chevrons marking the General Crook Trail. This is glance at the gps every three minutes type of pain free offtrail. No bushwhacking.

    Iconic views along the Vista trail never disappoint, such a great place to take a break. Then the hike back down to square one on the Military Trail. The tread has a fair shake of ankle busters. Glad it exists and enjoy sections. 1.1 miles to go, Bruce tells the same horrible story about a tree in the ravine every hike.
    Woods Canyon Lake Trail - Mogollon Rim
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    High - Drew - Woods - Vista - Sinkhole Loop
    A redo / variation of a loop I've done before.
    Starting from the 260 TH going clockwise

    Highline Trail #31
    Love me some of that super-highway Highline Trail. Temps in the upper 60's, great views, Trees and a breeze.

    Drew Trail #291
    This is the big climb for the day. Mostly in the trees and steep in a couple spots. 800' of gain in a mile.

    Woods Canyon Lake Trail
    Once on the Rim, we scoot over to Woods Canyon and follow that to the lake. We followed that CW around the North side of the Lake. Here we ran into a Hazzer Kevin, leading a group of 40 or so Boy Scouts the opposite direction. We stopped an chatted for a bit. Joe's day was made when Kelvin said "I'm not going lie, you made my day, meeting a minor celebrity"

    Down the spillway out of Woods Canyon Lake is a pretty area. We hopped out in a side canyon and went cross country.

    General Crook Trail #140
    This is one of Joe's favorites, so I make it a point to work in into hikes on top of the rim.

    Rim Lakes Vista Trail #622
    Always great views and few others seen farther that 300' of a parking lot.

    Military Sinkhole Trail #179
    This one get's you back to the TH. It's an old road for awhile up top, but turns into a trail through the trees.

    Good Day, Breezes kept it comfortable.
    Woods Canyon Lake Trail - Mogollon Rim
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    -I haven’t been up in Rim Country nearly enough this year. Only once, six weeks ago, on the Pine Canyon-Bearfoot Trail. Usually, I do 3-5 Mogollon Rim hikes a year. This week, I set out to redress the imbalance.

    I’ve hiked Woods Canyon Lake twice before, most recently in 2013. Which is a shame, because it is such a beautiful, peaceful, lake. (Despite the large, and often packed, campgrounds.) I'd much rather hike this a couple of times a week than Trail #100 behind the old el rancho.

    In 2013, I saw a Great Blue Heron by the dam. This time, I spotted a chipmunk. I took my first picture standing up. When I realized he hadn’t spooked, I got down on my stomach. He was still calmly munching away, so I was able to crawl within three feet of him. Living near the campground, maybe he was waiting for a handout? Either way, pretty neat!

    There aren’t a whole lot of flowers on this hike. Just about all of them are in the video. However, there was one blue flower that I saw fairly often. My crappy pocket camera did not do them justice their blue was so rich.

    I had much more trouble than normal with smooge’s on the camera’s lens. Smooge’s don’t affect distance shot as much as closeups. (I’d say “macro”, but on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5, macro is more a wish than a mode.) Despite regularly wiping the lens, I didn’t wipe it often enough. I know I lost some flower shots as a result.

    After I enjoyed a post hike beer and strawberry shortcake ice cream bar, my wife & I took off for the day’s main activity: Driving FR 34 / AZ-99 from the Mogollon Rim to Winslow. Yes, there is a highway between the two. I had hoped it would be dirt all the way, but it was paved north of the Chevelon Work Center, a small forest ranger community on West Chevelon Canyon, at Sand Point.

    The foliage gets shorter and less dense, north of the Chevelon Work Center, until it becomes wide open plains. The only terrain features of any kind are a few distant mesas: Chevelon Butte and East Sunset Mountain.

    Arizona is an open range state, and there’s a good chance you will encounter cattle on AZ-99, especially near one of the many roadside dirt tanks. One 10,000 gallon metal tank & pump well was covered with graffiti.

    As AZ-99 nears Winslow, the terrain remains flat, but becomes scrub land, with occasional outcroppings of flat red sandstone boulders.

    My wife and I had lunch at a Mexican place in Winslow. It was okay, but no beer, no plug.

    Afterwards, we were too sweaty & tired to stand on the corner, so drove home on AZ-87. Both the drive on AZ-99 and AZ-87 were pleasant, with little traffic, until I began to encounter Phoenix :pk: Drivers south of Pine. (I’m looking at you, Mr. Speed Up When Somebody Tries to Pass!)

    Hike Video: [ youtube video ]
    Drive Video: [ youtube video ]
    Woods Canyon Lake Trail - Mogollon Rim
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    Woods Rim Loop
    Met up with Chumley for a nice hike up on the rim. Chumley put together this loop and I was pleasantly surprised. The hiking was easy going and fairly scenic. I really enjoyed the section below Woods Canyon Lake which was new to me. We eventually climbed out of the canyon and walked along the rim for a couple of miles and completed the loop. Afterward we found a nice spot for car camping and met up with more friends later in the day. Nice day in the high country!
    Woods Canyon Lake Trail - Mogollon Rim
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    Woods Rim Loop
    I was looking to get 12 miles or so in the morning before meeting up with a friend arriving later for some camping. This turned out a little shorter than planned but still worked out ok. We parked at the end of the 195 camping area and took the nice trail down to the lake, before proceeding around on the north side trail. From there we went a couple miles downstream in Woods Canyon, then climbed out and made an off-trail traverse toward the Military Sinkhole. This area has been heavily thinned and is pretty unattractive right now. Hopefully a little grass grows in and greens it up.

    The vista loop spends too much time close to the road, and then it disappears completely after the Mogollon campground. I didn't realize there was no track out here. Not difficult to hike, but with the recent thinning operations still a bit of a mess.

    We did a short stretch on a segment of the Aspen/Crook trail before making an off-trail beeline back toward the truck.
    Woods Canyon Lake Trail - Mogollon Rim
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Highline - Drew - Woods Canyon - Sinkhole Loop
    The Turtle and I started from the 260 TH CW a bit after 7am.
    Temps in the upper 60's to start and the Highline #31 was in great shape.

    4.4 miles to the Drew Trail #291 and the biggest up for the day. 800' and 1 mile get you to the top of the rim.

    On top we followed the Drew to the General Crook to the "Hole in the Ground" area. An easy off trail took us to the Boulder Hop #413. From here it was another easy off trail to drop into the East Fork making our way towards Woods Canyon Lake. East Fork had a couple of slow areas, but game trails helped for most of the way to the lake.

    I always enjoy Woods Canyon Lake. Taking the northern route around the lake keeps you from the majority of the masses. Past the Woods Canyon Dam, we stayed in Woods Canyon for another 2 miles, before climbing out to the south. There was a feature on the Satellite view that I wanted to check out.

    Now on the Military Sinkhole #179, a brief check at the sinkhole, then the Rim Vista for the...views and down the rim to the TH.

    Thanks Turtle... Good Times
    Woods Canyon Lake Trail - Mogollon Rim
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The was a much needed hike for Rowdy. Once we were passed the old dam we pretty much had the trail to ourselves. :y:
    I was really bummed as I did see some beautiful birds and realized I forgot to bring my camera.
    So I used my phone for the pictures which isn't very good.
    There were a few people in canoes
    Woods Canyon Lake Trail - Mogollon Rim
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Woods Canyon Creek
    Went on a FRIENDS HIKING CLUB hike with about 10 happy hikers. The hike was a shortened version of the "Woods Canyon - Mogollon Rim" hike but nevertheless a pleasant hike and wonderful getaway. Lots of folks around Woods Canyon Lake but didn't run into any other hikers along the trail. Thought it might be a good place to fish but think otherwise now -- there was water all along the trail but doubt if the flow was adequate for fishing habitat. NO MOSQUITOES!!!!
    Woods Canyon Lake Trail - Mogollon Rim
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    We decided to get a hike in just before sundown. Our destination was the rim trail to the meadow trail. But the wind was blowing so hard at the rim we moved inland. There was a Bald Eagle nest watcher about a third of the way around the lake. We didn't see any eagles but didn't stick around. The temperature was great for a hike, slightly cool.
    Woods Canyon Lake Trail - Mogollon Rim
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    My wife has been in remission for 4 years last week. So I am getting a looser leash. I decided to go to Woods Canyon Lake since I haven't been there in 40 years. I arrived at 0830. Parking was full at the lake and around the General Store so I went to the overflow lot about 1/4 mile away. I set off counterclockwise. The lake was busy but it could handle hiking. There were only 2 other hikers on the trail with me. Temps were in the 80's. The trail is well marked with blue blazes on the trees. But it was not the walk in the park that I expected. There is some up and down. And I twisted my ankle about 1 1/4 hour into the hike. I could not comprehend the HAZ estimate of 3 hours. So I expected to hike out then turn around and hike it back. But with the twisted ankle I only did it one way and then looked for other hikes in the area. I did hike the Military sinkhole trail. I will post there - without linking since I don't care about my stats. And I hiked some General Crook Trail.

    If you go up here, get here early. The lake can handle crowds but it runs out of parking. You can rent kayaks for $15/hour and 2 person Kayaks and stand up paddleboards and boats. I would take my family up here for a nice trip. The fishing looked great but I can't vouch for the catching.

    All of the campgrounds were full. I think they fill up Thursday. I think people send someone up here to reserve a spot and then come up on Friday night.

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Payson take State Highway 260 to Forest Road 300, drive 3 miles on Forest Road 300 to Woods Canyon Lake entrance road. Begin the hike by crossing the dam near Spillway Campground.
    2+ mi range whistle
    blow it hard
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