Carolyn and I have been exploring the Maricopa County Park System with several trips to Lake Pleasant. On our first trip out to Lake Pleasant we discovered that the North Entrance is closed during the week and not knowing what to do, we came in the main entrance and decided to hike the Pipeline Trail, Yavapai Point Trail. From the south side we began at the Pipeline Trailhead and hiked down the canyon to the lake where there is a floating bridge that crosses a cove so you can continue hiking on the northern portion of the trail. That didn’t work out so well since the floating bridge is no where to be found. We returned to the trailhead and went back to the entrance point for some hiking recommendations.
The young man was very helpful and sent us to an access point for the Beardsley Trail. We trekked north on the western side of the lake on a sunny and warm day through the dessert. Our hike took us to the Wild Burro Trail and we continued north to the Pipeline Canyon Trailhead. The Wild Burro Trail runs close to the lake and that was the only place we encountered any other hikers. It was around 4.5 mile one way. The Lake Pleasant area is known to have wild burros roaming around hence the Wild Burro Trail. We see no wild burros on our journey to the trailhead. As we prepare for the journey back to the car, Carolyn says to me, “We are probably more likely to see a rattlesnake than a burro on the Wild Burro Trail.” Sure enough we get our first rattlesnake sighting this hiking season on the Wild Burro Trail. Seeing a rattlesnake while hiking always gets me a bit anxious. I know we try to be on the outlook every hike and this one was meandering across the trail where it went behind some rocks.
We get back on the long desert section of the Beardsley Trail and Carolyn ends up spotting some wild burros. That was an added bonus and we got to see about six out in the desert.
Our hike ended up at 9.1 miles which did not include the 1+ mile that we had hiked on the Pipeline Trail earlier that morning.
Craft beer time has come and being on NW part of the Valley, we head to Throne Brewing Company on 67th Ave in Glendale. Throne was formerly Dubina and Carolyn and I had stopped by their brewing facility last fall that was opened during Pandemic time in April,. The location in Glendale is a popular spot on the Westside and my favorite of their brews is the Blood Orange IPA.
On Cinco de Mayo, we return to Lake Pleasant and find the north entrance closed again. This time we park off the side of Castle Hot Springs Road and enter the park by hiking. We start on the Cottonwood Trail located by the closed entrance and access the Yavapai Point Trail and hike to Yavapai Point. Once again it is very warm and sunny with nobody on the trails. This time we notice many burros and some young ones are with their mamas. Those little ones are very cute. With our old school phones, we couldn’t get many decent photos but we were thrilled to see them.
Yavapai Point overlooks Lake Pleasant and has some nice elevation gain (400 feet) getting to the top. On the return, we crossover to the Pipeline Trail and hike to the cove where the floating bridge would normally be. No bridge. On our way back to our car, we come across a burro that takes exception to us and lets us know by a long winded bray. It was something to hear as the burro continued braying for quite some time. Our hike today in the desert roundtrip to and from the car was 7.77 miles with a total elevation gain of 760 feet. After our hike, we enjoyed a picnic lunch by the lake.
It wouldn’t be complete without a brewery stop, so we head to Front Pourch Brewery located in North Phoenix just south of Happy Valley Road and east of 19th Ave. My favorite from Front Pourch is the Toasty Blonde Ale and It’s Chime Time Blonde Ale that is brewed with cherries and key limes. Quite tasty and quite refreshing is how I would describe this perfect summer brew. Front Pourch has been involved in community work and last October, for a couple of weeks they donated $1 from every pint sold to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. From their website: “Our commitment to a better world goes beyond establishing a fantastic brewery. We are grateful for the work of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.”
Lake Pleasant is very popular for boaters and partiers on the weekends. For us, we found that during the week is a great time to visit with no crowds and a much calmer atmosphere and it has some great desert hikes. No rattlesnakes this time but beware they are out there. Added bonus for us was seeing more burros and encountering zero humans on the trails with a great picnic at the end with nobody around. And of course another brewery to add to taste along the way.