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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hiking Arizona's "everglades"

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

Carnero Lake, June 2, 2012
Even to the casual observer, it's clear that Arizona boasts  a plethora of environmental diversity.  Over the years, I've hiked through deserts, chaparral, prairies, alpine meadows, volcanic highlands, river canyons, wildly contorted mountain peaks, coniferous forests and even tundra.  Now,  "everglades" joins the list.  What? Huh? In Arizona?  Yuppers--Carnero Lake is a swamp.  Located off AZ260 between Pinetop-Lakeside and Greer, this shallow, 65-acre lake is prone to summertime weed growth.  This green quagmire may frustrate anglers hoping to nab the stocked rainbow trout, but for camera-toting hikers, it's a beautiful destination with lots of opportunities to view wildlife.  A slim footpath-- with many spurs leading to the water --circles the spruce-and-aspen fringed lake.  Thick woodlands on the south side of the lake provide good cover for photo stalking.  Waterfowl are easy to spot among the reeds and on my visit, a huge Ferruginous hawk put on an acrobatic air show above the water.  Antelope, elk, black bear, squirrels and lizards also inhabit the area.  We did this hike as a double-header with the Greens Peak trail (see separate blog entry) for a pleasant afternoon of off-the-radar trekking.

LENGTH: 1.63-mile loop
RATING: easy
BEST SEASON: May - October
From Show Low, travel east on AZ260 to FR 117 near milepost 380.  Turn left (north) and continue 2.5 miles on FR117 to FR117A, turn right and continue 0.5 mile to the signed turnoff for the lake. The access road is rough, but still passable by sedan.

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