by Blake Herzog
All of Greater Prescott’s lakes are gems, but Lynx Lake could be the ultimate crowd-pleaser.
Found on Walker Road just south of state Route 69 and the border between Prescott and Prescott Valley, it’s the farthest east of the five large man-made lakes in the area, centrally located for Greater Prescott and the closest to Phoenix.
It’s the heart of a recreation area that offers just about any category of outdoor fun the Prescott National Forest has on offer: camping in tents and cabins, fishing, boating, canoeing and paddle boarding, swimming, picnicking, even gold panning.
And the hiking — there are 14 trails crisscrossing the recreation area, most allowing mountain biking and horseback riding.
The lake itself is ringed by a half-paved, half-dirt trail rated as “easy.” The trail along the western shore is paved and wheelchair-accessible, while the eastern shore gets a narrow dirt path with some rocky spots, but most hikers will find it easy to manage.
Bikes and horses are not permitted on Lynx Recreational Trail No. 311; the 2.4-mile loop is heavily used by hikers of all experience levels, drawn by the alpine atmosphere and a path that welcomes anyone interested in working some enjoyable exercise into their day.
The trail is excellent for spotting all types of animals, but birdwatchers often get the most action. Bald eagles often reign over the lake in winter, and the west (paved) portion of the trail can be subject to closures between Dec. 1 and June 30 to protect their nesting sites. Ospreys take over in summertime when javelina can be spotted along the shoreline, as well as many small birds including the smallest of all, hummingbirds.
The views along this lake are spectacular whichever side you’re on, and every time of the year, the imposing trees mirrored by the water. If you’re lucky enough to catch it in the snow you’ll never forget its beauty. Summertime breezes and shade make it the ideal setting to beat the heat.
Bring every generation of your family here to create wonderful shared memories or come by yourself or with a buddy to jog around the shore two or three times — whatever you’re in the mood for, this lake will deliver!
LYNX RECREATION TRAIL NO. 311
The trail begins and ends at the south shore parking lot of the Lynx Lake Recreation Area. Travel east (from Prescott) or west (from Prescott Valley) to Walker Road, then drive 2.6 miles south on Walker to Southshore Drive. The trailhead is about 1/3 mile in on your left, just before you reach the parking lot. It takes about 45 minutes to complete the loop trail, which connects to Johns Tank Trail No. 94 (also for hikers only) and trails Nos. 401-406, which connect the popular campground to the lake.
Parking fees: $5 for day use; free on Wednesdays
Mileage: 2.4 miles
Level of difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5,500 feet