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Monday, July 12, 2021



Scrub land surrounds Kinnickinick Lake

Fishing and hiking share a common component--hoofing it to get to the good stuff.  Anglers typically trudge miles along streams and lake shores in search of the ideal spot to cast a line, while hikers will go out of their way to explore quirky, out-of-the-way sights.

Kinnickinick Lake, located 38 miles south of Flagstaff, is one place where anglers and hikers can unite in purpose.

Reeds grow around the lake's dam

The small trout fishery is situated on a desolate plateau, dotted with scraggly junipers a few miles southeast of Mormon Lake in Coconino National Forest.  Vast grasslands where domestic cattle browse among sporadic stands of Ponderosa pines and water tanks define the dusty, 9-mile drive in on kidney-jarring back roads.

Calliopsis bloom along the water Jun-Sept



At approximately 100 surface acres in size, the lake sits at 7,000 feet in elevation and is open for day-use  fishing, hiking, wildlife viewing and boating.  
Pines and junipers provide spotty shade along the hike

Largely shade-less with an eerie kind of allure, Kinnickinick, which is a Native American word used to describe plant-based mixtures for smoking, makes for an unusual trek.

The 2-mile circumference hike around the water involves following faint paths-of-use along a mix of mucky fringe, jumbled boulders and pine-shaded shores. 

The rocky fringe of Kinnickinick Lake

The route passes several barbed wire fences—close all gates and never cut or alter any parts—alternating among low bluffs above the lake and shoreline scrambles. 
The airy terrain of Kinnickinick Lake

The lake is bound by a dam at the head of Grapevine Canyon where acres of reeds serve as camouflage for waterfowl like ospreys, Great Blue herons and ducks and well as the herds of elk and pronghorn that roam the area.  
The lake is a haven for birds and waterfowl

A fun way to hike the lake is to do a hybrid kayak-walk trip.  This option circumvents the barbed wire and much of the loose-rock footing while providing better opportunities to view wildlife.
Poison milkweed attracts pollinators


Either way, this off-the-beaten-path, primitive destination offers an alternative to the typical party atmosphere of spending a day at the lake.

The hike follows faint paths-of-use

Curly dock flourishes in muddy areas around the lake

LENGTH:  2-mile circumference hike

RATING: moderate

ELEVATION:  7,010 – 7,095 feet


From Flagstaff go 24 miles south on Lake Mary Road (County Road 3) to Forest Road 125 on the left signed for Kinnickinick Lake.  Go 5 miles on FR 125 to Forest Road 82, veer right and continue 4.5 miles to the lake.  Forest roads 125 and 82 are rough dirt but passable by most carefully-driven vehicles.  The lake is open for day use only and there are no fees. There is a restroom near the boat ramp and picnic tables are spread out along the shore.

INFO: Coconino National Forest

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