Paddle away the day
Canyon Lake is one of four reservoirs that were formed by the damming of the Salt River. The lake was formed by the Mormon Flat Dam, which was completed in 1925 after two years of construction. Canyon Lake, with a surface area of 950 acres is the third and smallest of four lakes created along the Salt River. Two others, Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake are upstream. The fourth, Saguaro Lake, is downstream.
Canyon Lake lies approximately 15 miles from Apache Junction, Arizona, and 51 miles from Phoenix. It is within the Superstition Wilderness of Tonto National Forest.
Canyon Lake provides an excellent opportunity for some flat water Kayaking or Canoeing. There are several side canyons to explore such as Labarge Cove, First Water Cove, and Crucifix Gorge. You could also incorporate some off-trail hiking into the trip. If you would like to make a multi-day trip there are 2 camping locations at the lake one on the east side of the marina and another that is only accessible by water called the Canyon Lake Point Campground which is about a 2-mile paddle from the Acacia beach. The Point Campground is first come first serve. It has 3 covered areas with picnic tables and a vault lavatory. The condition of the site varies from semi-clean to a pig pen depending on how the last occupants left it. There is a beach in that area and a dock. There is no trash collection at the side you must pack it out. Also wood is limited so if you want a campfire you may have to paddle around the area collecting driftwood. The only water at the site is in the lake so bring it with you or bring a filter.
From the Point Campground you can paddle to the Point Campground Overlook hike or to the area where Skeleton Cave is located and hike up to it. If you are feeling extra fit that day you can paddle up to the Horse Mesa Dam which is the end of Apache Lake and the beginning of Canyon Lake.
I have seen Big Horn Sheep, Vultures, Herons a bobcat, and various other critters on my many trips on Canyon.
There is an abundance of plants, cacti, and during the right time of year flowers. In the narrower parts of the side canyons and coves, there are small riparian areas abundant with life.
At the end of the day on the lake, there is a restaurant located at the Marina where you can enjoy a nice meal. Or on the way back into town hit the Mammoth Saloon at the Goldfield Ghost town.
No permits. If you have a kayak, drop it at the boat launch and head out.
A Tonto Pass is required to park in any of the recreation sites, so unless you get dropped off, you do need a Tonto Pass. There's a Tonto Pass for boats too, but it's only needed for motorized boats. Kayaks also don't need to be registered with the state as other watercraft does.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.