BEAR CANYON LAKE
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
Attention all Bigfoot seekers---this is your trail. Whether you take the existence of the reclusive beast with relish or a grain of salt, know that many alleged sightings in Arizona have occurred in the forests surrounding Bear Canyon Lake.
Even with boisterous crowds of campers, anglers and hikers flocking to this popular summer destination--the beast abides. So, you’ll want to come prepared with binoculars, video camera and---for serious seekers---supplies for making plaster casts of footprints. However, finding the shy beast can be a challenge, even for cryptozoologists--those who study legendary or “hidden” creatures. That’s because the thick pine-oak woodlands surrounding the lake provide ample hiding places and dense undergrowth makes exploring a major endeavor. In the event Bigfoot fails to make an appearance, there are still plenty of other attractions on this high country trek. A scenic aspen-ringed peninsula, bald eagles, elk and secluded, moss-embellished coves make this a worthy hiking trail---even without scoring a peek at the mysterious creature lurking among the pines.
Habitat: loamy soil, pine forests
Elevation: 6,000 – 9,000 feet
LENGTH: 2 miles round trip (on main trail)
ELEVATION: 7,560 – 7,500 feet
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 147 miles one-way
GETTING THERE: From the junction of AZ 87 and AZ 260 in Payson, go east (right) on 260 for 30 miles to Rim Road (Forest Road 300). Turn left and continue west on FR300 for 12 miles to Forest Road 89, turn right and go 3 miles to the lake.
The last 14 miles are on good dirt roads. The trail goes downhill from the parking lots 0.25 miles to the lake where it continues along the shore in both directions.
INFORMATION: Black Mesa Ranger District (928) 535-7300, http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/asnf/recreation/black_mesa_trails/trl_chv_bearcanyon.shtml