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Monday, August 1, 2016

JOHNS TANK TRAIL

JOHNS TANK TRAIL #94
Prescott National Forest
View of Lynx Lake from Johns Tank Trail
The eagle has not landed. Sadly, the bald eagles that nest near Prescott's Lynx Lake did not produce offspring this year. Since they first appeared in the winter of 2002, breeding pairs of the quintessential American raptors have commandeered lakeside osprey nests to raise their chicks. In years when the eagles are on the nest, Johns Tank Trail #94-- the hiking trail that traverses their breeding territory-- is closed to human travel from February through June to give the hatchlings their best chance to thrive. The trail explores a bird friendly environment of Ponderosa pine forests swaying over trout-rich waters while tethering two loop routes in the foothills of the Bradshaw Mountains.
Ponderosa pines on Johns Tank Trail
There's no dedicated trailhead for Johns Tank, so it must be accessed by either Lakeshore Trail #311 to its west or Salida Gulch Trail #95 to the north. To take the lake access option, hike 0.1 mile west on Trail #311 to the Trail #94 junction. This mile-long segment passes through deep woods and resinous air as it ascends the hills above the water. After climbing 300 feet, the trail arrives at a juniper shaded highpoint with nice views of Spruce and Granite Mountains that precede a dip into Salida Gulch. Turn right at the Trail #95 junction and hike less than a tenth of a mile to a sign that point to the right. To the left, a rudimentary side path leads to Johns Tank, a sometimes moist but mostly muddy wildlife watering hole. Trail #95, dives farther into the gulch by way of hairpin turns pinched tight by vertical granite walls. About halfway through the loop, look for faint petroglyphs pecked into a stony grotto.
Lakeshore Trail
The route bottoms out on a bank above Lynx Creek, then swings south and uphill again to reconnect with Trail #94. Retrace your steps back to lake and head left to circle the water on Trail #311. This 2.3-mile walk stays close to shore making it a convenient corridor for anglers looking for a secluded spot to reel in dinner. Mind the tackle boxes and coolers. Tracing numerous finger coves, the route is draped in willows, cottonwoods and trunk snuggling cattails. You'll pass a boat launch where dozens of people shove off on paddle boards, fishing boats and kayaks before you arrive back at the start point.
Salida Gulch
LENGTH:
Double loop (as described here): 8.5 miles
Lakeshore-Johns Tank loop: 4.3 miles
Salida Gulch-Johns Tank loop: 6.2 miles
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 5,050' - 5,790'
Spruce Mountain view near Trail #94 high point
GETTING THERE:
Lynx Lake access:
From State Route 69 in Prescott, go 2.1 miles south on Walker Road (milpost 293) and turn left onto Lynx Lake North Shore (Forest Road 611). Continue 0.2 mile to the parking area. Hike down the paved walkway at the southeast end of the parking area to Lakeshore Trail #311 and follow it along the spillway to Trail #94. Roads are 100% paved. There's a $5 daily fee per vehicle. Bring exact amount for the self-serve pay station. Trailhead has restrooms, picnic tables, nearby store and a site host.
Salida Gulch access:
From State Route 69 in Prescott, go 1.2 miles south on Walker Road to Lynx Creek Road (Forest Road 9401, signed Lynx Creek Ruins/Salida Gulch), turn left and continue 1 mile to the trailhead at the forest boundary sign. Begin hiking on trail 9263, hop the creek and look for the trail 95 junction in about 0.1 mile. No fees. Vault toilet.
INFO: Prescott National Forest
Lynx Lake Recreation Area Brochure