The Mogollon Rim rises more than 1,000 feet above the general landscape with rock cliffs that form a plateau of thousands of acres of dense conifer forest. There are numerous canyons that expand and grow deeper as they meander to the north from the cliffs at the edge of the Rim. Many of these canyons have live water that has been dammed to create a series of lakes. Midway between Woods Canyon Lake on the east and Highway 87 on the west is Knoll Lake, which is a part of the upper Leonard Canyon watershed.
Because of its location, which is 21 miles of gravel on the 300 Road from the Woods Canyon Lake turnoff, even on a summer weekend, there is plenty of elbow room to camp and fish at Knoll Lake in the cool temperatures at its 7,400-foot elevation.
The reservoir is 75 surface acres and gets its name from a small island that protrudes from the middle of the lake. The fishable water appears to be bigger than it really is because of two canyons at the headwaters. A paved single ramp boat launch is available for those willing to tow a boat over the gravel road.
A boat or float tube certainly expands the fishable water, because shore fishing is limited with the steepness of the banks at water’s edge. Knoll Lake is stocked with catchable rainbows six times throughout the summer and most anglers will have some success. An occasional brown or brook trout could be caught from the leftover remnant population, which was stocked years ago.
The best fishing is always in the early morning and late afternoon when the hatch of summer insects occurs and triggers the trout to actively feed. Matching the hatch with the artificial fly is critical to angling success. During the day, bank fishermen with PowerBait, corn and worms have some success fishing on the bottom with light line and small treble hooks.
There is a U.S. Forest Service campground with approximately 35 units, but it is seldom filled because of the distance from a paved road. The facilities have toilets, potable water, picnic tables, grills and fire rings for a comfortable camping experience. The scenery is spectacular, fishing fair to good, and the solitude surprising, even on a summer weekend.
Another highlight would be an early morning or late afternoon hike or drive with an excellent opportunity to view elk, deer, turkeys and maybe even a bear. Wildlife abounds in the summer at this higher elevation, so bring your camera.
The entire trip to Knoll Lake will take about an hour-and-a-half with the last 21 miles on gravel and dirt. If solitude is a premium, then this is the lake for you. If you go, take a friend and enjoy God’s creation, the Rim Country of Arizona.