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Hassayampa River Preserve and Lake Pleasant
January 30, 2022
by Wendy Rennert
Barbara, Anna, Jeanne, Ron, Julie, Vicki, Diane, Chuck, Wendy

On a beautiful Arizona morning 9 hikers met at 9 AM at the Hassayampa River Preserve just south of Wickenburg. We pause at the pretty garden in front of the visitor center for our group photo, see a few hummingbirds flitting about near the feeders, then we proceed through the gate to start the hike.

The River Ramble is the first trail we take, which travels through a cottonwood-willow forest. We note there are lots of areas of tree debris strewn all over the grounds, presumably from the notable summer monsoons of 2021.

Walking the plank…er, bridge, that is!

There a few small footbridges to cross over the narrow Hassayampa River. The river starts at Groom Creek in the Bradshaw Mountains near Prescott. It runs underground for most of its 113 miles, but for the 5 miles at the preserve, granite bedrock domes up, forcing the water to the surface, where it flows year-round. The name Hassayampa is loosely translated from the Yavapai as the upside-down river.

From the River Ramble trail, we next head up the one hill in the preserve up to Lyle’s Lookout. From the top, we can see the railroad tracks that run behind the preserve, and note that on the other side of the tracks it is a typical desert landscape with saguaros, but on our side of the tracks, you can clearly see where the line of Cottonwood trees starts and fills the preserve grounds. There is also a bench and signage noting which mountains we’re looking at in the distance.

The view from Lyle’s Lookout is lovely.
These signs name the mountains that we see looking N and NE from the lookout.
These signs name the mountains that we see looking N and NE from the lookout.

We come back down from the lookout, head back on River Ramble, and walk along the Lion Trail loop before coming back near the visitor center.

Crystal clear water of the Hassayampa River is edged in bright green algae.

Our next trail in our journey is along the Palm Lake trail. I wouldn’t exactly call this a lake…one of our hikers notes that the “lake” looks more like a Louisiana bayou – kind of swampy, filled with many trees. We do spot a couple of Coot ducks in the “lake,” as well as several Mallards. From the Palm Lake Trail, we next hike the Mesquite Meander Trail. There are several framed poems along the trails at this preserve, all with nature as their subject. They were apparently put there to celebrate national poetry month one year, so we pause at a few of them to read the poems.

A green carpet welcomes us along Mesquite Meander Trail.
One of the many framed poems along the trail!
A small river, but a welcomed sight by all!

You can read about the Hassayampa River preserve’s history.

We finished hiking the trails at the preserve, and had a nice picnic lunch while there. Since there are only 3 miles of trails at this preserve, 8 of the 9 hikers move on to Lake Pleasant for more hiking.

Hassayampa River? Nope, we snuck in a visit to Lake Pleasant afterwards!

At Lake Pleasant, we hiked the Roadrunner trail, which is a short and flat hike right along the lake. There were several boats out on the water on this fine winter day!

A pleasant trip along the rocky shores of Lake Pleasant.

We hiked a total of about 5 miles today, and despite the relatively short distance, we did see a variety of nice scenery today!

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated February 1, 2022