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Bear Canyon Lake Trail

Along the Bear Canyon Lake trail
Bear Canyon Lake trail
Along the Bear Canyon Lake trail
Bear Canyon Lake
Bear Canyon Lake
Bear Canyon Lake
Bear Canyon Lake
Bear Canyon Lake
elevation plot: Bear canyon lake trail
map: Bear Canyon lake trail


How to Get There
This hike is located near Payson, AZ.

To get to the trailhead: from the Phoenix area, take HWY-87 North toward Payson. Once in Payson, take HWY-260 East towards Heber. After about 30 miles, turn left onto signed FR300 (also known as the Rim Road). Take this road 12 miles, following the signs for Bear Canyon lake. The road starts out paved, but turns to well graded dirt. After 12 miles, turn right at the signed intersection with FR89. After two miles on this road, turn right onto signed FR89A. This road takes you through a campground and down to the lake parking (stay left at the final fork). You'll reach the parking area after one more mile of driving. There is a restroom here but no drinking water.
Christopher Creek
Mogollon Rim

Hike details

3.40 [Miles] Total
Hike Distance- Details
The loop around the lake is 3.4 miles.
1.50 [Hours]
It's a pretty swift 1.5 hours of hiking to complete this loop.
Elevation Change
150 Total gain/loss [Feet]
Elevation Details
You'll drop about 150 feet from the parking lot to get to the lake.
Hike Trail Type
Lollypop Loop
Special Features


Best Season
  • June
  • July
  • August
Worst Season
  • January
  • February
  • December
Season Details
Date Hike completed
July 17, 2016


Solitude Details
This is a popular lake, but most folks are there to fish, so they tend to stay on the West part of the lake. Along the eastern part of the lake you'll get some decent solitude.


Difficulty Rating
difficulty detail
30 yr old Recommendation: The lake is lovely and makes an excellent summer destination. This is a moderate difficulty hike due to the scrambling needed while hiking on the East side of the lake.


Be Aware of
Some scrambling on the east side of the lake, as the trail is not nearly as well defined.

Loop hike around Bear Canyon Lake on the Mogollon rim (Arizona). 

It's easy to see why Bear Canyon lake is so popular. Up at 7500 feet, this remote lake provides the fishing crowd with a scenic place to fish. For us hikers, there's a great trail that loops around this pretty place.

From the parking area, the signed trailhead is easily spotted to the East. Take the signed trail about 0.25 miles to a signed fork. Here you can go either left or right around the lake. We went right and made a counter-clockwise loop. This section of trail is well defined and marked with periodic blue diamonds on the pine trees. This trail hugs the lake for nearly its entirety, so the lake scenery follows you. As you head to the Southern tip of the lake, you'll reach the wild East side of the lake. The trail markers disappear and the trail becomes more of a fisherman path. There's a bit of scrambling and route finding here, but for the most part, the trail sticks very close to the lake shore. This section of the hike provides the best solitude from fishermen. Eventually you'll reach the North end of the lake and the dam. The blue diamonds return and it's a short 0.2 miles back to the first fork and then a brief climb to get back to the parking area.


Swap Start/End
Adding markers to the map ...