Photo by Karen Shaw
The Johns Tank Trail is notable for its short yet moderately challenging path up and down a ridge in the Bradshaw Mountain foothills and verdant surroundings. But it’s perhaps best known as the trail that traverses the bald eagle nesting area adjacent to Lynx Lake. It is subject to closures from December through June to protect their offspring.
Anyone hiking this trail throughout summer and fall will understand why these majestic birds favor this particular slice of the forest. Towering ponderosas, junipers and oaks wave over a floor of grass and soil that support numerous species of wildlife. The trout-laden lake beckons just to the west while a gentle incline leads to higher ground with panoramic views. After summering up north, the eagles start to return to the area in the fall so keep your eyes peeled!
This mile-long route links the popular Lynx Recreation and Salida Gulch trails, which draw nature lovers into the dense vegetation and chapparal grasslands that are both featured in the Greater Prescott area. Starting from its western origin at Lynx Lake, it starts out easy before starting to head uphill while swinging to the south, all in densely vegetated soil and pine-scented air. After reaching the Salida Gulch Trail, trekkers can turn right and hike a few steps before reaching a short path to the left taking them to Johns Tank itself, a shallow, muddy hydration source for forest animals. They can then choose to turn around and go back down the lovely slope to the lake or take the Salida Gulch’s tour through habitats ranging from high desert to woodlands.
The Lynx Recreation (a.k.a. Lakeshore) Trail is also a worthy destination, hugging the banks of this especially pretty reservoir for more than 2 miles. But the Johns Tank Trail, particularly because of its limited availability, clearly justifies a visit by itself.
Parking fees: $5; free on Wednesdays
Uses: Hiking only
Distance: 1 mile (one way)
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 5,550 to 5,800 feet