★★★★☆ Easy to Moderate / Phoenix Area:
A floating bridge crosses crystal clear water, in one of Lake Pleasant’s intimate coves. The Pipeline Canyon Hiking Trail rambles along the sides of quiet lakefront hills to this hidden location. Far flung views set blue water against dry desert mountains. On a lucky day wild burros can be spotted. And ducks frolicking in water are commonplace.
TRAILHEAD: Cottonwood Lane, Lake Pleasant • DIFFICULTY: Mostly EASY (with some moderate spots) • DISTANCE: 2 MILEs ( 4 miles rt) • APPROX. TIME: 2 – 2.5 HOURS • ELEVATION GAIN: 220 FEET (16 STORIES) • APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 520-600 • BEST TIME OF YEAR: OCT. – APRIL • PETS: YES • KID FRIENDLY: YES PLEASE! • FACILITIES: YES • FEES: $7 Day use (or $85 annual maricopa parks pass)
(NOTE: Due to currently low lake water levels, the inlet crossing may be unavailable.) If your looking for a relatively short and easy hike to a special spot, this hike’s for you! The Pipeline Canyon Hiking Trail is a favorite at Lake Pleasant, both for its short length and its extra-special floating bridge feature.
Kicking off from the north trailhead, the path climbs modestly for a half mile, and then flattens out as it moves between the hills around the lake. At 1.5 miles the floating bridge comes into view, tucked into a lovely blue cove.
Past the bridge, on the southern end of the Pipeline Canyon Hiking Trail, the path continues another half mile, slowly ascending the side of a hill, with the Aqua Fria River flowing below. There are picnic grounds with awesome lake views at the finish.
Floating or Pontoon bridges were first used in ancient China in the 9th century BC! They are constructed by joining a series of floats together and attaching a deck on top.
Directions From the intersection of I-17 and AZ-74 / Carefree Highway, (north of Phoenix), turn west / left onto Carefree Highway and drive for 11.26 miles to Castle Hot Springs Road. Turn north / right onto Castle Hot Springs Road and continue for 5.94 miles (past the entry gate to the lake) to Cottonwood Road. Turn south / right onto Cottonwood Road and drive for a quarter mile to the end, and the trailhead to the Pipeline Canyon Hiking Trail.