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Goldwater Lakes Day Hike
Prescott, AZ
November 1, 2014
by Jim Buyens
  GPS Map 

Everyone enjoyed this hike when I led it a year ago and so I decided to try it again. And once again it was thoroughly enjoyable.

Eleven Trailblazers ready for adventure:
Jim, Sana, Laurie, Jeanne, Bill, Denise, Gabrielle, Dave, Gary, Michael, and Linda

The Goldwater Lakes trail lies just south of Prescott, starting on the east from the Watershed trailhead on Senator Highway. The west end is the White Spar campground on State Highway 89. The surface is surprisingly smooth for Arizona, and most of the trail is wooded. Elevation meanders up and down but there are no major climbs. Plus, there are three interesting water features: two lakes and a pond!

The trail is part of the Prescott Circle Trail, a managed network of trails that will eventually encircle all of Prescott. As a result, trail maintenance and signage are excellent.

The weather forecast called for strong winds, temperaturs in the 50s, and a high chance of rain. Nevertheless I continued the hike, hoping for shelter among the trees and good luck with the rain.

A gnarly tree greets us in the early going.
[photo by gnarly Bill]
Isn’t he cute?

The sky was mostly cloudy when we began but there were still patches of blue, which I made a point of mentioning. That way, if any rains did come, I could claim, “Well, we had blue skies when we started!”

This is lower Goldwater Lake, which is surrounded by private property.

Temperatures remained brisk and as I’d hoped, the trees gave us protection from the wind. We could hear the wind in the upper leaves, though, and that was a rare treat.

This pond, or tank, or whatever is just past the half-way point.
It’s fed by a spring from Banning Creek.

Just past the outbound midpoint we discovered a pleasant little pond feed through the rocks by Banning Creek. This was a great place to catch our breath and take photos.

Another view of the spring-fed tank.
I never get tired of photos taken near water in Arizona.

Skies grew darker as the morning lengthened. We still had a long way to finish the hike, but everyone seemed in the mood to step up the pace anyway. If it did rain, the chances of finding shelter at the west trailhead seemed greater.

Dark clouds threaten rain as we approach our turn-around point. [photo by Bill]

Fortunately we did reach the White Spar campground without precipitation. We did make use of the campground facilities, though, especially the restrooms and picnic tables.

Bill catches Linda in a faux pas. The other line was longer.[photo by Bill]
Lunch at the half-way point.
Here we experienced a three-inch rainfall.
The dots on the table were three in inches apart.
[photo by Bill]

Being the half way point, and proving seats and tables, the campground was the logical place for a lunch break. And here we did encounter some rain, though only a few drops. The pessimists nevertheless donned rain gear before heading out and the optimists, of course, didn’t.

Now the sun is out and we’re heading back. [photo by Bill]

The optimists, as it turned out, were in the right. It only rained slightly for a few minutes and then stopped. The rest of us needed a break to replace our raingear.

This is Upper Goldwater Lake, which is a Prescott city park. [photo by Bill]

The Goldwater Lakes trail doesn’t actually run along the lakeshore, but there’s another city trail that does. So on the way back we took that detour and enjoyed the view.

Ducks on Upper Goldwater Lake. (I’m a sucker for duck photos.)

After the hike we headed to El Gato Azul, a trendy bistro located near the main square in Prescott and specializing in Spanish food. What’s Spanish food, you ask? Well, sort of a cross between Mediterranean and Mexican. It has great outdoor seating when the weather is warm enough (which for us, unfortunately, it wasn’t) and some truly eclectic and enjoyable dishes. Definitely different but interesting and everyone enjoyed it. Service was excellent so thumbs up for a return visit!

Hike Statistics
Total Distance:10.29miles
Starting Time:9:01AM
Moving Time:4:10hrs:min
Stopped Time:0:41hrs:min
Finishing Time:1:52PM
Avg. Speed Moving:2.5mph
Avg. Speed Overall:2.1mph
Starting Elevation:6,180ft
Minimum Elevation:5,637ft
Maximum Elevation:6,180ft
Total Ascent:1267ft
Starting Temperature:55°
Finishing Temperature:55°
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updated March 31, 2017