What a wonderful little gem for any standup paddler, found in Prescott National Forest. Lynx Lake is nestled close to Prescott Valley off Route 17, approximately 90 minutes north of Phoenix. It is a small, serene, clean-water, picturesque lake to venture to. The area is studded with tall, established ponderosa pines, alligator junipers, oak trees and beautiful rolling hills.
Upon coming to the lake, you will see The Highlands Center for Natural History, a learning facility with scheduled programs and activities offered through the spring, summer and fall. Right near there is the Lynx Lake Store and Marina at the North Shore Day-Use Area with a waterview café, store, boat rentals, firewood, and various supplies. And there are several campgrounds if you choose to stay overnight.
Where to paddle and hike at Lynx Lake
Lynx Lake is small but picturesque, perfect for paddling, sailing and kayaking. Boats with 10 HP motors are allowed, but swimming and wading are not.
The most accessible area to drop in is on the south side, where there is a distinct boat ramp. At this parking area you’ll find a kiosk to pay the Prescott National Forest day fee.
As you paddle, take advantage of the open areas to pull off and enjoy the cool breezes with a snack and a friend. The delightful 2 mile Lakeshore Trail hugs the entire perimeter of the water. This is an easy hike for any ability level, and quite shaded and tranquil. There are some areas to have a seat and savor the beauty on some benches or large fallen tree trunks.
Look for the resident bald eagles and their young taking flight from any area on the lake. Bald eagles have used this lake as a nesting sight for the last decade — there are closed off zones for nesting bald eagles during certain times of year.
Riverbound tip: Grab a small chair and find a secluded spot close to the dam. You can linger for hours waterfront, under the fragrant trees and absorb the distance view beyond the lake.
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Along with some water time, there are also many other trails to the west and south to take longer hikes or mountain bike. If you enjoy paddling in the crisp, chilly wintertime, you will have this pretty little lake all to yourself! Just dress accordingly, and know your skills to prevent any unplanned dip in the frigid water. Also, thunderstorms are likely from late June through mid-September, so take note of the weather before you go.
Another nice feature about this like, it is not far from downtown Prescott where you can enjoy the fun restaurants and shops in this old western town.
(*TIP: If you are bringing a group of friends, there are convenient and very clean group sites at Lynx Campground. #19 campsite allows 4 vehicles max. If you are solo or a few people, #22 is quiet, secluded and a short walk through the woods to the Lakeside Trail. Remember to pack in/pack out.)