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Sunday, November 16, 2014


Saguaro Lake
Trail near Camper Cove

Of the sting of reservoirs tethered by the Salt River 30 miles northeast of the Valley, amenity-rich Saguaro Lake is the closest and easiest to find. This is one of the reasons why it's so wildly popular for boating, fishing or simply bonding with a cooler and juicy novel under a lakeside mesquite tree. Hikers can hit the dirt here by way of the Butcher Jones Trail that wraps around a water-piercing peninsula with secluded coves. Most of the route hugs the cliffs high above the lake, but fisherman paths to the shore make nice scenic detours for photography, wildlife spotting or a cozy lunch break. The trail's high points reveal fantastic views of the gaping Salt River Canyon, 1930s-era Stewart Dam and surrounding mountain ranges. Arrive early to get a good parking spot and be prepared to share the trail with pole-toting anglers and gaggles of kids running off their hot dogs and Kool-Aid. If noise and crowds cramp your style, hang in there---the commotion dissipates where the trail makes a hairpin turn around Peregrine Point.
LENGTH: 5 miles roundtrip
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 1529' - 1600'
FACILITIES: restrooms, picnic tables
FEE: Tonto Pass is required. $6 daily fee
From Mesa, go 27 miles north on SR87 (Beeline Highway) to exit 199, Bush Highway (FR204), turn right and continue 2 miles to the signed turnoff for Butcher Jones Recreation Area.  Follow the access road (FR116) 2 miles to the site.  Trail begins at far east end of the beach.
INFO: Tonto National Forest

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