Arizona, Walks

Lake Pleasant

The weather forecast called for unseasonal warmth and sunshine all weekend. Greg and I decided there was no way we could stay home and do nothing. I suggested we find someplace within an easy driving distance to go for a hike … a nice, long walk in the desert sunshine. Playing on a hunch, we opened up Google and found nearby Lake Pleasant would fit the bill.

We dropped the top on the car for the 45-minute drive to one of the area’s largest manmade lakes, which straddles the border of Maricopa and Yavapai counties northwest of Phoenix. Maricopa County operates Lake Pleasant Regional Park which includes more than 17 miles of trails rated mild to moderate, a Discovery Center, a 10-boat launch ramp and a campground. 

I didn’t really see any cliffs, but they must be in the park somewhere.

We pulled up to the entry kiosk and paid the $7 daily fee for a car. The lady at the window offered us maps, which we happily accepted, and then handed us our receipt. A sign on the wall next to the window touted the “Park Rules” including a few no-nos … like no cliff jumping!

The trails are well marked.

We followed the signs around a few bends, past soaring Saguaro cacti, to the boat ramp, where the Roadrunner Trail meets the parking lot. We’d decided the 1.6 mile round trip route was just the thing for a 75 degree, sun-filled afternoon.

A meticulously maintained bathroom at the edge of the parking lot was a welcome site. I had expected port-a-potties or composting toilets. Even the water fountains were turned on … a rarity during these Covid times. We checked the map and hit the trail.

The trails are cleared, but fairly rocky and uneven.

The trail is rated mild, so we were surprised to find it a bit rocky in places. A few climbs and descents made us wonder how true hiking novices would feel about the “mild” rating, but it was a nice change from our usual sidewalk strolls. 

The views are gorgeous.

We stopped often to look up and enjoy the astounding view since most of the walking included keeping a close eye on your footing.

At the lookout you could read about the Hohokam Indians.

A Boy Scout troop had taken on the project of refurbishing and labeling a historic site along the pathway. 

I didn’t see anyone catch anything, but then, that’s not always the point of fishing, is it?

We spotted wild burros hidden in the trees at one point. Several lone fishermen sat spaced apart at the water’s edge casting their lines into the lake in the hopes of hooking one of several species of bass, crappie and catfish that call Lake Pleasant home. 

Early settlers to the area had Fiesta ware according to the display.

The trail’s ends are the parking lot where we started and the Discovery Center. It was halfway for us, so we popped inside to explore the exhibits. They are very nicely laid out, informative and interesting! Display cases show off archaeological finds from the area and help tell the story of the inhabitants of this mountainous desert terrain. 

The sailboats were not moving very fast in the still winds on the lake.

Back out on the trail we followed the path in the opposite direction remarking at how still the wind was and how much the sailboat out on the water was clearly moving under engine power and not the wind. 

We watched a lady throwing a stick into the lake and her dog happily bounding into the water to retrieve it, shaking heartily, then jumping with joy as she picked up the stick and threw it again. It was so much fun watching them, I completely forgot to capture the scene.

By the time we returned to the car we’d spent just over an hour soaking up the sun’s rays and taking in the vast blue sky and water. It was a perfect, easy day.

There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. My advice is, “Take a hike.”

© The World A to Z, LLC 2021 — Unless otherwise indicated, no compensation was received for this blog.

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