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Thu, May 23

Autumn 2018 colors play off Prescott’s running creeks and full lakes

Fall colors at Willow Lake. (Cindy Barks/Courier)
Photo by Cindy Barks.

Fall colors at Willow Lake. (Cindy Barks/Courier)

Sparkling blue waters reflecting vibrant golds, oranges, and reds of fall are the norm this year along the trails through Prescott’s watersheds.

After a rainy monsoon season that stretched well into the fall, many of Prescott’s creeks are running, and lakes are full.

That means that the change from green to vibrant gold is being reproduced on the surfaces of water all over the region.

“With the recent (precipitation) events we’ve had, there is definitely water in all of the watersheds,” said Jason Williams, trails and wilderness manager for the Prescott National Forest.

Many areas of the forest are currently either at their peak for fall colors or approaching it, he added.

Hikes along the shores of Lynx and Goldwater lakes still feature a mix of green and gold, while some of the creekside areas, such as Lynx and Bannon, are at their zenith for fall colors.

Although much of October came with cooler-than-typical temperatures, Williams pointed out that this weekend is forecast to have classic Prescott October temperatures of low-to-mid-70s – making for prime hiking weather.

Those looking for a water/leaf combo have plenty of spots to choose from this year, including:

Lynx Ruins Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Length: One-half mile

How to get there: Take Walker Road to the turnoff for the Lynx Creek Ruins. Follow the dirt road toward the Homestead area to a number of pull-offs that run along Lynx Creek.

What’s great about it: Because the creek runs alongside the road, the changing leaves are easy to access for those who don’t want a long hike. Fall colors are currently in their prime.

More information is available at:

Fain Lake Loop Trail

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Length: About 1 mile, with another 1.6 miles in the Cavalry and Canyon trails.

How to get there: Off of Highway 69 in Prescott Valley, turn south onto Valley View Drive, then west onto East Second Street, and south onto N. Fifth St. to Fain Lake. A web of trails circles the lake.

What’s great about it: Leaves are just starting to turn to gold on the large old trees in the town park. Lynx Creek, which flows into the lake, is currently running, with water cascading over the rocky terrain.

More information is available at:

Bannon Creek, Trail 396

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: About two miles to the Bannon Creek duck pond; three and a half miles to Goldwater Lake.

How to get there: Take White Spar Road for 1.8 miles from the Copper Basin Road intersection. Turn left at the White Spar Campground, and park in the lot to the right. The trail meanders to the southeast toward Senator Highway.

What’s great about it: The trail lies within the Granite Creek watershed and features plenty of ponderosa pines trees and oak trees. Leaves are in full fall colors in the rocky drainage surrounding Bannon Creek.

More information on Trail 396 is available at:

Willow Lake Loop Trail

Difficulty: Easy to difficult

Length: The entire loop that circles Willow Lake comes in at 5.7 miles, but the network offers plenty of opportunities for shorter loops and out-and-back hikes

How to get there: Access to the loop is available at Heritage Park, the Willow Lake boat dock, and Willow Creek Park.

What’s great about it: Leaves on the trees surrounding the lake are just starting to turn to gold, and the reeds at the water’s edge are also turning to a vivid contrasting rust.

More information about the loop trail is available at:

Lynx Lake Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 2.3 miles

How to get there: Travel east on Highway 69 to Walker Road. Turn right and travel 2.6 miles to Southshore Road and go 0.3 miles to the trailhead on the left.

What’s great about it: The trail hugs the shore of the scenic Lynx Lake, and offers consistently good views of the 55-acre lake. The western half of the loop is paved and wheelchair accessible, while the eastern half is a narrow dirt path.

For more information:

Goldwater Lake Trails

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 1 mile

How to get there: Drive south on Mount Vernon Avenue (becomes Senator Highway) about 4 miles to the entrance of Goldwater Lake Park, turn right and park in designated parking.

What’s great about it: The trails circling the lake offer sweeping views of the mountain lake, which is surrounded by a variety of pines and leafy trees. Leaves are just starting to turn in some areas along the trail, while other areas are well into fall colors.

More information is available at:


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