One of the best ways to obtain an up-close and personal look at the pristine wonders of the Rim country is by hiking its majestic national forests.
There are miles and miles of hiking trails with varying degrees of difficulty, but a favorite day hike of the Foster family is the trail that encircles the 50-plus-acre Woods Canyon Lake. It's a great way to spend the day and the five-mile trail is well marked. For first-timers, there's no danger of getting lost the path takes the hiker around most of the shoreline and is always within sight of the shore.
On any summertime outing, it's not unusual to spot elk, beaver, deer, squirrels and a variety of birds.
Vegetation along the way includes majestic Gambel oaks, Douglas firs, white firs, ponderosa pines, bracken ferns and some wild roses. There are also several owl habitats near the trail.
Chevelon Ranger District officials say the best place to begin the journey is by crossing the dam near Spillway campground on the east end of the lake. Turn left and follow the trail along the water's edge. It ends where it joins the nature trail in the Rock Point picnic area on the southwest side of the lake.
About the only obstacles a hiker will have to overcome are a few large rocks and some fallen trees. However, we've seen some hikers on the trail without comfortable shoes or sufficient water and the experience turns into drudgery.
The trail receives moderate use to heavy use in the warm summer months when Woods Canyon is one of the state's most popular gateways for heat-weary desert dwellers.
The Forest Service ranks the trail "more difficult": but the hike isn't demanding even for those who might thrive in the life of a couch potato.
The elevation, at 7500 feet, might render the hike a tad more difficult for flat-landers.
Facilities in the area include a picnic area, boat launching ramp, general store, cellular public pay phone, two developed campgrounds providing drinking water, toilet facilities and garbage pickup. Campground hosts and a fire crew live at the lake in the summer.
If you decide to use the Rocky Point picnic area for lunch, there is a $2 per car per day fee. An annual pass may be purchased for $20.
Combine a boat ride or fishing trip with your hike, and a boat with an electric motor will cost you $25 for up to four hours' use. For a day, the cost is $35.
Want more exercise than the hike gave you? Then rent a rowboat for $25 for four hours.
Boat rentals are at the general store.
Access to Woods Canyon Lake from Payson is by driving east on Highway 260 to Forest Service Road 300 at the top of the Rim. Turn north and drive three miles to the lake entrance road.