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Palo Verde Hiking Trail

★★☆☆☆ Moderate / Phoenix Area:

If you are wanting to get your Summer on and spend the day at a local beach, picnicking, sunbathing and swimming – with a hike thrown in for fun – then heading out to Bartlett Lake’s Palo Verde Hiking Trail is an ideal choice. The lake itself offers a boatload of recreational options (bah bam bum): including fishing, tubing, jet skiing, swimming and barbecuing. And the wide sand beach below Rattlesnake Cove’s picnic area (where the trailhead is located) is an ideal spot to hang with kids, dogs and friends on a nice sunny day. Plus, the drive to the lake, through the untouched regions of Tonto National Park, is unexpectedly beautiful. Although the Palo Verde Hiking Trail has its charms, its one-note views and slightly sketchy maintenance, make it a better “add-on” to a pleasant day at the lake, than a destination in and of itself.


TRAILHEAD: rattlesnake cove picnic area, off of North bartlett dam road    DIFFICULTY: easy to MODERATE  •  DISTANCE: 3.8 MILES (7.6 MILES RT)  •  APPROX. TIME: 4-5 HOURS  •  ELEVATION GAIN: minimal – with some mild hills  •  APPROX. CALORIES BURNED: 950-1050 ROUND-TRIP  •  BEST TIME OF YEAR: year round  •  PETS: yes  •  KID FRIENDLY: yes  •  FACILITIES: YES   fees: $6 day use (or annual National Parks pass)

Landscape, Lake, Hiking, Central Arizona, Bartlett Lake, Palo Verde Hiking TrailThe Palo Verde Hiking Trail starts at the North end of the Rattlesnake Cove Picnic Area (just off the paved walkway out to the boat dock). From there it follows the lake’s western shoreline, winding around small harbors and marshes, and up and down the area’s gently rolling hills. Views across the lake, to the steep mountains whose sides terminate in the waters of this man-made reservoir are pleasantly consistent. In Spring the trail is know for the small wildflowers that pop up along the path, and throughout the year birdlife is abundant. Although the inclines of this trail are mild, its surface of small granite stones tends to roll-out from underfoot when heading downhill. So be cautious when descending.

Bartlett Lake, Central, Arizona, Water, Beach, Rattlesnake Cove, Dock, Palo Verde Hiking TrailTotal Nerdery

Bartlett Lake is on the Verde River and is named after a Government Surveyor, Bill Bartlett. Who knew that could happen!

 Landscape, Lake, Hiking, Central Arizona, Bartlett Lake, Palo Verde Hiking TrailResources

Click here to download a trail map

Directions From the intersection of Cave Creek and Pima Roads (in Carefree, Arizona) drive 13 miles east on Cave Creek Road (which becomes Bartlett Dam Road) to North Lake Road. Turn left on North Lake Road and follow it a little less than one mile to the entrance to the Rattlesnake Cove picnic, area on the right. The trailhead for the Palo Verde Hiking Trail is at the northernmost end of the picnic area, just past the walkway to the dock.

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