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Pipeline Canyon Trail, AZ

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Guide 45 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Phoenix > Phoenix NW
3.2 of 5 by 16
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,920 feet
Elevation Gain -223 feet
Accumulated Gain 552 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.66
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
13  2019-05-09
Cottonwood Trail - Lake Pleasant
14  2018-11-30
Wild Burro Trail - Lake Pleasant
1  2018-11-18 Sun_Ray
10  2018-11-01
Pipeline Canyon- Wild Burro-Yavapai Point
15  2018-10-13
Rainy day at Lake Pleasent
13  2018-04-30
Pipeline Canyon-Wild Burro Trails
11  2018-04-23
Yavapai Point Trail - Lake Pleasant
14  2018-04-21
Lake Pleasant Wander
Page 1,  2,  3,  4
Author JoelHazelton
author avatar Guides 16
Routes 10
Photos 967
Trips 406 map ( 1,971 miles )
Age 33 Male Gender
Location Phoenix, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Feb, Mar → 6 AM
Seasons   Autumn to Summer
Sun  6:16am - 6:28pm
Official Route
7 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Arizona's biggest Wave!
by JoelHazelton

I decided to hike this trail after a long morning of kayaking in Lake Pleasant. We loaded the boats into the back of my brother in law's truck, he took off, and I headed off in my car to the trailhead at about 1:30 pm. The parking lot is big enough for maybe 10 cars; however, I believe there are plenty of pull-offs for parking along the road to the parking lot in case it's full. I believe this trail should be fairly populated early morning in the summer or in the spring when flowers are blooming. I hiked it in the afternoon in late April and passed two other groups the whole time. There are bathrooms and a drinking fountain.

From the south trailhead, the trail immediately begins a gradual descent into the canyon. After about .2 miles pipeline cove comes into view below to your left. It looks very inviting; from the trail you can tell the water is very clear and deep. Don't get in yet though- it will look better on the way back, trust me. The trail turns east as it continues to descend into the canyon. Every time I pass a bush or tree I can hear bees buzzing. It's amazing that there is such a dearth of bees this year; I never would have thought based off of all of the bees I hear and see while hiking in the desert. Past the bend spectacular views of the lake and pipeline cove open up. There might be boats in the cove. On this particular hike, on my way back, there was a boat sitting idle by the shore in the cove and there was a couple... being loud. Remember, this is Lake Pleasant, and people come here to sit and drink tons of beer and do things that aren't exactly going to make for the most peaceful wilderness hike for you. Anyway, soon after the views open up, you reach the bottom of the canyon and you come up on a bridge that crosses the cove. As of a year ago, I think, they built a floating bridge so you don't have to worry about the water level getting too high anymore. I think... Cross the bridge and admire the lake to your right. Actually, I though the cove to my left was prettier. I'm a sucker for canyon scenery though... The bridge turns you north again. Immediately after crossing the bridge you begin to climb again. The trail is relatively uninteresting from here, and you've only gone half a mile. Continue a steady climb for about .25 mile longer, just past a bench that offers nice views of the lake behind you. The canyon is now to your right instead of your left. On this trip, it was dry, and anyway, from the trail you can't see the bottom of the canyon so it doesn't matter a whole lot. There are a couple of gradual ups and downs, but it's mostly flat for this stretch. Try not to turn around, save the scenery for the hike back. About a mile from the bridge the canyon begins to open up, along with nice views of the southern Bradshaws. This gives you some eye candy until your much anticipated final destination comes into view: the northern trailhead. You descend down the canyon towards the trailhead for the next .5 mile. More views of the Bradshaws come into play. It's nothing I didn't already see when I was on the lake. Views of the lake and Fireman's Cove open up again. Soon you reach the trailhead. There are more bathrooms and a drinking fountain with cold water. Careful when you drink from it; the water shoots out like a foot past the fountain. There is what looks like a trail register but there's a big rock in it instead of a log book. Interesting. Don't spend too much time here, you need to get that first 1.5 miles of the hike out of the way before you get to the bridge and it gets interesting again. Turn around and hike back the same way you came. The final half mile stretch back to the south trailhead made me sweat a bit.

Overall this is a nice hike after spending a day at the lake, but nothing to go out of your way for. Careful during the summer, the temperature here is the same as Phoenix. Enjoy, be safe, and bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen.

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2007-04-14 JoelHazelton
  • 2018 PDF
    area related
    2018 PDF
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 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
Pipeline Canyon Trail
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Judy and I out looking for wildflowers and a burro would be a bonus. Main gate told us that the bridge on Pipeline Canyon Trial was not operational and suggested we start at the North end of the trail for a longer out and back hike. As we hiked Pipeline we came across Yavapai Point Trail so followed Pipeline to the bridge that is not operational because the ends are about 10 yards from the shore because the water line is up. On the return we hiked Yavapai and took it back to the parking lot. Moderate poppy's and brittle bush is just starting to open up. Next few weeks should be spectacular!

Mexican poppy, brittle bush
Pipeline Canyon Trail
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Frustum #19 and CHOLLA BM
There are two trails in the narrow Pipeline Canyon, located just west of Pleasant Lake.
I started on the Pipeline Canyon Trail, then transitioned to ‘off-trail’ to search for Frustum #19. I then went up atop Pk 2178 to locate CHOLLA BM.

Both the frustum (actually a boundary marker in the shape of a frustum) and the benchmark were set in place in 1924, a few years before the first Pleasant Lake Dam was completed. Neither one is in jeopardy of ‘going underwater’, as they are far above the high waterline.

I played alot of ‘dodge-ball’ with healthy cholla on my way up a ridge to the frustum area.
Once atop the little sloping ridge, I finally located Maricopa/Yavapai Boundary Marker #19, hiding in the low morning sun. For being so close to humanity, I was impressed with its good condition. One can see where attempts were made to dislodge the three plaques from the frustum. The plaques ‘held strong’ and are in excellent shape. The concrete around the plaques display the brunt of the ill-fated attempts to dislodge those plaques.

Next was, ‘go find the benchmark’, that was set in association with this frustum. I had the Lat/Long for the BM, so that was no problem. CHOLLA Triangulation Station (1924), is located atop Pk 2178, just 1/3rd mile up the ridge to the northwest from Frustum #19. The surveyors must have been impressed with all the cholla plants, ergo the BM’s name. No reference or azimuth marks were set.

CHOLLA BM is literally located at the end of, and in the middle of, another trail - Yavapai Point Trail. CHOLLA BM is in very good shape, considering its location.
I left Pk 2178 off-trail, transitioned back to the Yavapai Point Tr, then to the Pipeline Canyon Tr.

This was a fun, easy hike with great views of the second largest reservoir in Arizona.
Plus I located the things I set out to locate. All good things.
Pipeline Canyon Trail
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Early morning to try for sunrise photos over Lake Pleasant. Started at Walkin' Jim TH to avoid paying the fee, went down Cottonwood Creek for about a hundred yards and caught the trail system in. It was too cloudy for a beautiful sunrise which is okay since I underestimated the distance and wouldn't have made it to the viewpoint in time for sunrise anyway. I really enjoyed the view anyway, and the storm clouds all around were super impressive.
Pipeline Canyon Trail
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This is one of the newer trails in the Lake Pleasant area. The hike up was quiet and quite picturesque, as many of the Brittle brush and Jojoba plants are getting ready to explode. The Canyon Wrens were in full force and singing quite contently. I'd like to do this as a sunrise or sunset hike.
Pipeline Canyon Trail
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Great morning for a quick hike with my wife. The Spring bird conditions are awesome, most species are actively singing. Saw a family of 3 wild Burros and the lake is very full, which made this hike even better, especially along the floating bridge. Had lunch at Dillon's BBQ at Scorpion Bay.

In addition, the Brittle brush are looking extremely abundant, should be a wonderful Spring bloom in this area :kf: :kf: :kf: :kf: :kf: :kf:
Pipeline Canyon Trail
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My 4 year old daughter and I headed out to LP this morning to hang out with our Park Ranger buddy, Terry, we helped him with his reptile talk then Tavi and I bounced over to pipeline canyon trail and enjoyed an hour or so of Mommy & Daughter time!
I showed her how to play a Saguaro, anyone who has ever hiked in the desert with me has most likely been shown the proper technique :D
I taught her how softer rocks can leave their color on harder rocks and she made her own little rock art drawings on a broken stone on the trail and then we came across some fake petroglyphs...I believe they are fake because they're RIGHT on the trail and I've never seen them right there before :D

Tavs and I only hiked a mile in and back, because apparently 4 year old legs get tired easily...she's a beast! :sweat: So I carried her 35 pound lazy bum the last mile on top of the 10 pounds of "junk weight" I managed to cram into my little day pack...did I mention I was wearing flip flops? :sl:
Fun little mini-hike with my little Mini-Me, looking forward to many more!

Pipeline Canyon Trail
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4 Miles of dark,, chilly hiking last night, got sideswiped by a bat, there were TONS of batty bats, we heard coyote puppies whining in the canyon, we got spooked by some sort of equine that blew it's nostrils at us and ran off :sl: , saw 3 or 4 mules on the drive home, saw some beautiful stars that you can't see in the city and best of all saw two HUGE javelina nosing around at the trailhead :y: .

No moon last night but we did walk by the city lights reflecting off the clouds for a while. light pollution, geez!

had a wonderful easy hike!
This is hike #2 of our 100 Mile Challenge of county park trails.
We started with North Trail@ McDowell Mtn Park, next we'll be tackling that same North Trail followed by Scenic Trail, Pemberton Trail and finishoff the 11.9 miles of selected county trails with Tonto Tank trail that day, totaling out at 15 miles that day, cannot wait!! That should be in the next few weeks whoo! :D
Pipeline Canyon Trail
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Jessica wanted to check this out. It was about 113 degrees when we started so the plan was to the bridge and back. Rounding the canyon heading down is pretty scenic. I'd like to see this area with wildflowers in Feb-Mar some year. Heading up took about five small breaks as Jessica was feeling the heat. The only real shade is a tree near the bridge. It all turned out good and we were off to go swimming! :y:
Pipeline Canyon Trail
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Being a newbie when it comes to hiking, I thought I'd start with something not too difficult. The weather was beautiful and the sky was blue. Started the hike the hike on the south side. Almost 5 minutes into the hike I came apon a Sonoran Whipsnake. I was either too slow or the snake was too fast... either way the snake was gone before I could get my camera out. After a while I came to a bridge. To the left of me there were 3 Borros. After crossing the bridge, I continued hiking. I came at a point where there were a lot of rocks, and on one of those rocks was a Eastern Collared Lizard just warming up in the sun. I managed to make a great picture of it. To make my story short, I saw a total of 3 Eastern Collared Lizards and a Whipsnake. Not bad for a first-timer I thought.
I hope to post more in the near future.
Pipeline Canyon Trail
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Wendi found this trail. I was surprised because she has never like Lake Pleasant's reputation for being a party place. We were bringing the Mother-in-Law today so we were desperate for a new hike to enjoy with her that was easy enough for her which this one turned out to only just. We ate lunch first at the trail head which has picnic tables that over looks the lake. Nice, but the storm that threatened us all day and that would continue throughout our hike was bringing lots of wind at the exposed TH. To our appreciation the wind was much less in through the Canyon.
We made use of the bathrooms and continued on North to the trail which passes a water tower then descends and makes a small turn and you see the beginnings of Pipeline cove and yes it is pretty clear and inviting but not enough risk the steep 30ft descent. We continued on to a floating bridge that crosses probably 100 feet from the mouth of the cove and then begins it's ascent into the next valley. Along the way I noticed that the brittlebush and creosote were both showing the very first beginnings of some buds, no sign of color yet but it's a start.
We took a little break at the bench to catch a few parting glimpses of the lake and went further into the valley which soon engulfed us.
At the ridgeline to the east Wendi spotted three of the 280 mules that the park boasts on a trail map as a "growing" population of "wild" mules. On the way back this created an interesting discussion of how exactly, given the fact that Mules cannot reproduce on their own, that this a growing population. Niether had heard, and refused to believe that mule were infact steril I had to remember all the way back to 7th grade biology for that. The great all knowing Wikipedia later explained that Mule are infact steril (I was right). It takes a male Donkey (Jack) and a female Horse (Mare) to make a Mule. I could go on but it would only take me further away from my point which is how does one get a growing herd of wild Mule?! Somebody get Moulder! Any way from a considerable distance I think the said beast of burden are in fact Donkies but bear in mind that I thought Donkies and Mule were the same thing. Now I know better but I'll leave it hopefully to one of you experts to let me know and perhaps explain how if these are mule, how it becomes a growing herd.
We made it the northern trailhead to discover more bathrooms. Wendi's mom was thinking she might want to wait out the rest of the hike here. Concerned that we were so close to edge of the storm she decided to push forward and make the hike back with us.
We didn't see the Mule on the way back but heard a pack of Coyotes. Then Wendi thought she saw a "Jackalope" at least that is what she said but we're pretty sure that it was a regular ol' Jack rabbit. Then resting at the halfway bench I noticed that one of Ocotillo was in full bloom, unusual because none of the other Ocotillo were blooming but I'll take it. Spring is almost here.
On the way out we thought we saw that last of the storm cells move out but as we crossed the floating bridge and headed west up into the next canyon we saw the next cell coming right at us. Slow and wide and looking like it was dump a lot of water. After a short western hike up the trail head south and we narrowly avoid another cell only to stumble on another hiker making his own rain right off the trail on bush that was so close they literally trim it back so that it doesn't obstruct the trail. Apparently he missed the bathrooms conveniently placed at each end of the trail. That's Lake Pleasant for you.
Any way the Mother in law lived to see another day and we didn't get wet and got to see plenty of lightening.

Permit $$
Maricopa Regional Parks - Fees more info

$7 per vehicle,$85 annual or trade your first born for the life pass

$2 walk, bike or horse ride into park

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
From Phoenix head north on I-17 to the Carefree Highway (SR74)
Go west 10.8 miles to Castle Hot Springs Road
Head north 2.1 miles to North Park Road
Go right into park and follow 3 miles to the southern trailhead.
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