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Cottonwood Trail - Lake Pleasant - 3 members in 5 triplogs have rated this an average 2 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Dec 25 2020

 Guides 8
 Routes 4
 Photos 1,845
 Triplogs 649

36 female
 Joined Dec 02 2009
 Grand Canyon
Cottonwood Trail - Lake PleasantPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 25 2020
HippyTriplogs 649
Hiking7.60 Miles 567 AEG
Hiking7.60 Miles   3 Hrs      2.53 mph
567 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Threw together three little trails to get some miles for the 100 miles in 100 days Maricopa county puts on.
Lake Pleasant has got to be my favorite regional Park and it has nothing to do with the fact that it's the closest...I swear.

Saw plenty of burros. Also plenty of idiots petting and feeding the burros :x
Don't feed the wildlife you morons, it's posted everywhere!!

Anyway, Yavapai trail looked like the burros or some javelina had thrown a party, or maybe it was the wind, Cholla everywhere, strewn all about the trail! Ouch.

Happy chollamas!
Canyon Freak Adventures!
3 archives
Dec 29 2019

 Guides 1
 Routes 57
 Photos 1,122
 Triplogs 64

68 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Cottonwood Trail - Lake PleasantPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 29 2019
roaminghikerTriplogs 64
Hiking1.20 Miles 93 AEG
Hiking1.20 Miles
93 ft AEG
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
My hike at Lake Pleasant gave me some nice lake views, and a bit more.

I started at the Cottonwood trail head, which sits right off the small parking lot just after the pay booth at the northwest park entrance. The Cottonwood is a longer way to the lake, adding a mile or so (i.e. one could drive down), but provides a quiet walk through some rolling open forest, and some simple views of mountains in the distance. In other words, it adds a bit more.

I started just as the sun came up, in about 30 degree weather. That meant the night air had been cool enough to create a frost. So I was greeted by a thin sheen of ice crystals across ground and on the leaves. And the low rising sun put a soft glistening on the crystals. So again a bit more.

As I hiked, I went past various viewing benches. These show up in a number of Phoenix area parks. They are generally provided by benefactors in honor of one or more deceased relatives, friends or compatriots. I like to include them in pictures, with no one sitting in them, to remind us of people in our lives who have passed away. Those people are not here to sit with us, so the empty bench represents that, but we are still hear embodying what they have given us and others, so in spirit they are sitting in the bench. The thoughts and the benches add a bit more.

From Pipeline, I connected to the Yavapai Point Trail, which took me to the overlook on the top of a modest hill on the western shore. This vantage point offers good long-distance views across the lake to the mountains beyond. These views I would consider the main event.

Back down, I hiked further south via Pipeline Canyon trail, just to the point where the trail crosses an inlet. While not a terribly scenic structure, the floating bridge across the inlet provides nice vantage point for viewing and photographing. So I put this in the bucket of getting a bit more.

Then back, and an unanticipated siting. Wild horses and burrows do roam various parks, but I don’t count on seeing them. But good luck struck, and on an opposing hill three horse (more likely some variation of mules or burrows) stood reasonably serenely, eyeing it seemed the passing hikers. So a bit more.

The hike ran about 7.5 miles round trip, refreshing in the cool AZ winter, and rather enchanting, with about 1000 feet accumulated elevation change. Not in the category of dramatic or taxing in difficulty, but overall still invigorating.

I do keep in mind these type lakes often exist due to dams, which pose a mixed impact on nature. They disrupt the natural rhythm of a river, but can generate environmentally friendly hydroelectric power.
Fauna [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Wild Burro
2 archives
May 09 2019

 Guides 7
 Routes 359
 Photos 17,193
 Triplogs 1,871

68 male
 Joined Jul 16 2012
 Green Valley,Az
Cottonwood Trail - Lake PleasantPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar May 09 2019
RowdyandMeTriplogs 1,871
Hiking6.72 Miles 951 AEG
Hiking6.72 Miles   3 Hrs   29 Mns   2.25 mph
951 ft AEG      30 Mns Break15 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
Flora [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Ocotillo
Fauna [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Wild Burro
Rowdy and Widowmaker
Feb 10 2019

 Guides 24
 Routes 19
 Photos 416
 Triplogs 1,875

53 male
 Joined Oct 24 2010
Cottonwood Trail - Lake PleasantPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 10 2019
mt98dewTriplogs 1,875
Hiking4.90 Miles 93 AEG
Hiking4.90 Miles   1 Hour   51 Mns   2.65 mph
93 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Nice morning hike involving the Cottonwood trail and some minor off trail mountains. Got to the Walking Jim TH a little after 8am. Surprised to notice that a new barb wire fence had been put across the start of the Walking Jim Trail. The wiring had been tramped down to the ground, so it was easy to cross, but I could to tell that the wiring was new - rust free. Didn't see any signage and the trail was still very evident but I'm wondering if something has changed?? First went down into the wash and went through the culverts to access the Cottonwood Trail. This may be a bit illicit - avoiding the Lake Pleasant Park fees but it is easy access if all your looking to do is this trail. Came upon a sad scene as I was approaching the Cottonwood trail. Saw 4 burros and what appeared to be recently deceased youngster. The 4 were standing around the one lying on the ground and didn't move as I walked by. Usually they are skittish but not so in this instance. Since I caught this trail in the middle, I first did the southern end then turned around and went to the northern end. With the exception of the very tip of the southern end (that connects to the Pipeline Trail) the southern section of the Cottonwood is very nice. A single track that interacts with the land with minimal elevation change. The northern end has the vestiges of an old road and is less imaginative with how it interacts with the land. Felt awkward when I hit the north end end because I had to go by the burros (they were located in the wash right where the Cottonwood crosses). Once I hit the northern end, I decided to to return to the wash (and the culvert) off trail as to avoid the burros. Continued the off trail mode on the west side of the road hitting a few of the nearby hills. I enjoy the off trail scrambles as much as the on trail runs. Weather was great. Didn't see anyone the whole time I was out there.
Nov 30 2018

 Guides 103
 Routes 263
 Photos 9,807
 Triplogs 769

60 male
 Joined Dec 20 2010
 Sunnyslope, PHX
Wild Burro Trail - Lake PleasantPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 30 2018
kingsnakeTriplogs 769
Hiking5.80 Miles 593 AEG
Hiking5.80 Miles   2 Hrs   10 Mns   2.68 mph
593 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
I avoid hiking high elevations, like Strawberry Mountain, in the winter. Couple of inches of snow up there the last few days. No thanx. ✋

In previous winters, I’ve ranged far & wide, particularly to the Arizona Outback, in search of interesting hikes at lower elevations.

Last winter I started doing more hikes close to Phoenix: What I term “Locals’ Hikes“.

As our 10th anniversary was the night before, and I’d had a wee bit of champagne, I decided to hike Wild Burro Trail, Pipeline Canyon Trail and Cottonwood Trail, but only one way (north), rather than do an out & back. 🥂

Lake Pleasant’s water levels ( ) are 5-9 ft. below recent years, but the high water line is much higher, and marked by a distinct change in vegetation. I’m guessing the high water level is 30 ft. above the current depth of 1,664 ft. If Lake Pleasant was another 30 ft. higher, Wild Burro Trail would be along the shoreline in many spots. Instead, the shore is a couple hundred yards off. Still, it has the only decent lake views.

The high water line of Pipeline Cove extends a quarter mile west of the trail, which you can see on satellite view. There used to be a floating bridge there, but flash floods tore it from its moorings. It may not look it, but water has a tremendous amount of force, enough even to roll the bridge’s support blocks down channel. Pipeline Canyon Bridge’s wreckage, twisted with brush & guy lines, is 100 yds. away from its original location.

Because Lake Pleasant is low, Pipeline Cove is a dry crossing.

As I descended towards Cottonwood Trailhead, while looking out at the last sliver of Lake Pleasant view, I was startled when a previously unseen wild burro snorted me. I could see his herd moving in the palo verde.

There would be some shade on Cottonwood Trail, but shade was the last thing I needed as the sky was nearly 100% overcast. (It was so foggy at 8:30 a.m., that if those burros had been in the middle of Castle Hot Springs Rd., I very well may have hit them.)

Due to the sporadic sunshine, taking decent photos on my 💩 pocket camera was difficult. There’s limited photo ops, anyway, on Lake Pleasant’s trails, particularly given the low water levels and people’s understandable reluctance to be on the water with temps in the 50s. Without flowers and bridge wreckage, I would have had nothing.

Despite the hike being short, and with minimal elevation gain, I had unusually sore quads on Saturday morning. 🤔

Hike Video:
Fauna [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Wild Burro
Culture [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Bridge Cag Shot
Named place
Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ] Lake Pleasant
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Brittlebushgoing nuts.
_____________________ : Everyone's enjoyment of the outdoors is different and should be equally honored.
1 archive
average hiking speed 2.53 mph

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.


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