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Goldwater Lake Trail
April 14, 2018
by Jim Buyens
  GPS Map 

This trail is among the most popular I’ve ever scheduled. Every year everyone on the hike tells me they loved it and that I should do it again the next year. And why not? It follows a beautiful route through the pine forest, it’s tranquil, it’s serene, it has an easy trail surface, it  has enough elevation and distance to make it a good workout, and it’s got three water features: a spring and two lakes!

Fifteen happy hikers and a lake surrounded by pines. Is this Arizona or what? [photo by Carl]

In past years I always ran the hike west-to-east and back, but this year I chose the reverse. That took advantage of water and toilets being available both at the trailhead (the White Spar campground) and the turnaround point (the Goldwater Lakes city park), and it also placed more climbing on the way out rather than on the return.

Jim passes out maps and directions at the trailhead. [photo by Carl]

Last year’s hike was broken up by the Whiskey Off Road Bike Race, which apparently occurs the last (or perhaps fourth) Saturday in April, so I carefully avoided that event this time. We did share the trail the Whiskey Basin Trail Run but the trail runners were much less obtrusive than the bikers. (Those runners, by the way, were running distances of 10, 31, 57, or 88 kilometers: some feat! We, meanwhile, were only hiking and the distance was 15 kilometers.)

This memorial stands at a scenic vista about a mile into the hike. [Photo by Carl]
Banning Spring and Pond are the first water features we encounter. [Photo by Randy]
This is Lower Goldwater Lake, scenic but surrounded by private property. [Photo by Carl]
After six months of hiking among cactuses, hiking through the pines was spectacular. [Photo by Carl]

The lakeshore open to the public runs along Upper Goldwater Lake, and we took full advantage. The water level seemed low compared to past years but our spirits still ran high!

The Goldwater Lakes city park provided these facilities at the turnaround point. [Photo by Randy]
Here we are hiking along the Upper Goldwater Lake shoreline. [Photo by Randy]
On our way back we encountered this American Bald Eagle. What a sight! [Photo by Carl]

We finished hiking at 12:30 PM and sure enough, almost everyone urged me to schedule the same hike next year. And the dissenters wanted it twice a year!

The finish was early enough for people to get home and still enjoy part of the afternoon. As a result, only three of us stayed in town for lunch. The restaurant was Murphy’s, one of my favorites, which I chose because we arrived early enough to order from the full lunch menu.

Thanks to everyone who came out, and happy trails!

Hike Statistics
Total Distance:9.4miles
Starting Time:8:46AM
Moving Time:3:38hrs:min
Stopped Time:0:04hrs:min
Finishing Time:12:29PM
Avg. Speed Moving:2.6mph
Avg. Speed Overall:2.5mph
Starting Elevation:5,576ft
Minimum Elevation:5,250ft
Maximum Elevation:6,100ft
Total Ascent:1,200ft
Starting Temperature:48°
Finishing Temperature:68°

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated April 19, 2018