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Knoll Lake Campground
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mini location map2022-08-17
26 by photographer avatarkingsnake
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Knoll Lake CampgroundPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking8.15 Miles 789 AEG
Hiking8.15 Miles   3 Hrs   55 Mns   2.08 mph
789 ft AEG
1st trip
At first, it looked like there was a trail out of the boat ramp trailhead, past the pit toilet. But the trail seemed to come & go, and in any case is not numbered like Bear Canyon Lake Trail #112. It was obvious the lake was well down, exposing 50 horizontal feet of large, uneven, rocks. I tried side-sloping inside the tree line. Though not as rocky, it was steep, and I was not hiking as fast as I wanted.

Also slowing me down were frequent stops to photograph flowers.

Knoll Lake’s water ran out ¾ mile south of the boat ramp. I aimed up East Leonard Canyon. Normally, I canyon crawl down canyon, climb out, then take forest roads back to my trailhead. Today’s hike showed why.

Though there were sections of animal trail or bracken fern, or even a 200 yd. long meadow, there were several obstacles, and plenty of wait-a-minute vines. The canyon was slow going. It took me 1h 50m — including photos and puzzle solving — to cover 1¾ miles. With the high pre-storm humidity, I was soaked in sweat. 😅

There were also two major obstacles, near the beginning of East Leonard Canyon: The first, a tangle brush and deadfall that stretched across the narrow canyon bottom. It was steep, so I didn’t relish climbing up and side-sloping. After a few minutes of puzzling out routes, I managed to work my way between the brush pile and the right hand wall.

Not 100 yds. past that was the second obstacle, a tall pour flanked by steep walls. (Brush-choked and nearly vertical on the left.) In front, was a several feet deep pool, and the rocks were slick with moss & moisture. I might have tried it dry, but ended up going right, slipping multiple times on the muddy slope.

I figured East Leonard Canyon would start to flatten out, and be less brush-choked, but after 2⅔ total miles, I decided to bail up to FR 9715Q. It was still steep, but using roots and solid looking rocks for steps / foot brakes helped.

A ⅓ mile later, I turned left onto General Crook Trail, which is marked by reflective white chevrons nailed 8-10 ft. up trees, and spaced every 100 yds. or so. Usually, the next chevron is visible from the one you are standing next to. General Crook Trail looks like an old, pine needle-covered, decommissioned forest road. The easy travel was a relief.

I was only on General Crook Trail for a little over mile, past dry Lake No. 4, before turning north onto FR 9715J.

I’d been hearing thunder for awhile. While on FR 9715J it began drizzling. No big. After ⅓ mile, I turned right onto an obvious foot trail marked by white blazes shaped like the letter “i”. The blazes marked the unnumbered trail down to, and along, the east branch of Knoll Lake. A little over a mile, the “i” marked trail was the most pleasant part of my day.

I’m not sure what Knoll Lake’s % of fullness is, but it’s low compared to sat view. When I arrived at the southeast finger of the lake, it was crossable dry 200 yds. north of where the satellite shows water 50 ft. wide. When I stopped for a short break, it commenced raining in earnest. ⛈

Where Bear Canyon Lake has an informal trail on its east shore, I had no such luck on Knoll Lake’s east shore. It was slow going, negotiating more rocky slopes, both exposed shoreline, and up in the trees. Moving as fast as my old, fat, rearend could, it took me 50 minutes to hike the remaining 1¼ miles back to the boat ramp trailhead. Then it really started pouring.

On my way out, I stopped 200 yds. east of FR 9715J to search for the G.D. Bantz grave. (I would have hiked to it, but was trying to beat the rain.) Afterwards, returning to my car, it was in a ditch, 50 ft. away from where I left it. In drive. Egads. Thank God I did not have my brain fart on the cliff edge of the Mogollon Rim! 😆

Hike Video:
Named place
Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Four Peaks Knoll Lake
Meteorology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Sunrise
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
Spreading fleabane, but white and purple. Lupine on dam. Pinewoods spiderwort and Apache lobelia on rocky west shore. Regular sightings of Mexican silene. Nuttall's linanthus, ragleaf bahia, western dayflower (most common of all), Columbia monkshood, yellow coneflower and Richardson's geranium. Fly agaric the only mushroom I could identify, but many more types than two weeks ago around Quaking Aspen Canyon. Species I did not photograph include pygmy bluet, Parish's yampah and, I believe, wandbloom penstemon. (I did not look close.)

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max East Leonard Canyon Creek Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
Between Rim Rd. and Knoll Lake.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Knoll Lake 26-50% full 26-50% full
I'm not sure the % of fullness, but it's low compared to sat view. For example, the southeast finger of the lake is crossable* 200 yds. north of where the satellite shows water.

*dry upper, wet midsole.
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