Travel Hooray – Arizona Hiking: KINNIKINICK LAKE


Scrub land surrounds Kinnickinick Lake

and hiking share a common component–hoofing it to get to the good stuff.  Anglers typically trudge miles along streams
and lake shores in search of the ideal spot to cast a line, while hikers will
go out of their way to explore quirky, out-of-the-way sights.

Lake, located 38 miles south of Flagstaff, is one place where anglers and
hikers can unite in purpose.

Reeds grow around the lake’s dam

The small
trout fishery is situated on a desolate plateau, dotted with scraggly junipers
a few miles southeast of Mormon Lake in Coconino National Forest.  Vast
grasslands where domestic cattle browse among sporadic stands of Ponderosa
pines and water tanks define the dusty, 9-mile drive in on kidney-jarring
back roads.

Calliopsis bloom along the water Jun-Sept



At approximately
100 surface acres in size, the lake sits at 7,000 feet in elevation and is open
for day-use  fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing and boating.  

Pines and junipers provide spotty shade along the hike

Largely shade-less with an eerie kind of allure,
Kinnickinick, which is a Native American word used to describe plant-based
mixtures for smoking, makes for an unusual trek.

The 2-mile
circumference hike around the water involves following faint paths-of-use along
a mix of mucky fringe, jumbled boulders and pine-shaded shores. 

The rocky fringe of Kinnickinick Lake

The route passes several barbed wire fences—close
all gates and never cut or alter any parts—alternating among low bluffs above
the lake and shoreline scrambles. 

The airy terrain of Kinnickinick Lake

lake is bound by a dam at the head of Grapevine Canyon where acres of reeds serve
as camouflage for waterfowl like ospreys, Great Blue herons and ducks and well
as the herds of elk and pronghorn that roam the area.  

The lake is a haven for birds and waterfowl

A fun way to hike the lake is to do a hybrid
kayak-walk trip.  This option circumvents
the barbed wire and much of the loose-rock footing while providing better
opportunities to view wildlife.

Poison milkweed attracts pollinators


way, this off-the-beaten-path, primitive destination offers an alternative to
the typical party atmosphere of spending a day at the lake.

The hike follows faint paths-of-use

Curly dock flourishes in muddy areas around the lake

LENGTH:  2-mile circumference hike

RATING: moderate

ELEVATION:  7,010 – 7,095 feet


From Flagstaff
go 24 miles south on Lake Mary Road (County Road 3) to Forest Road 125 on the
left signed for Kinnickinick Lake.  Go 5
miles on FR 125 to Forest Road 82, veer right and continue 4.5 miles to the
lake.  Forest roads 125 and 82 are rough dirt
but passable by most carefully-driven vehicles. 
The lake is open for day use only and there are no fees. There is a
restroom near the boat ramp and picnic tables are spread out along the shore.

Coconino National Forest

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