Beauty of Seven Falls

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Return to Parker Canyon Lake in the Coronado National Forest

Beautiful and serene
I knew this was going to be a wonderful hike when I got up in the morning and came into the kitchen to start the coffee.  I opened my blinds and a red-tailed hawk flew onto my roof.  He crooked his head to one side as if to say “Are you ready? Let’s go”.  I told my fellow hikers that we were hiking like the ancient Native Americans, with the spirit of the hawk along with us.  Who says I have no imagination?  
Hawk is ready to lead the hike

Santa and elves fishing
Our hike this week was a return to Parker Canyon Lake.  If you remember our experience last year – the sudden rain and wind storm- this one was the exact opposite.  We were a small group – only 6 – and we started out a little bit earlier because of the distance we had to travel to the lake.  The drive is about 100 miles from Marana, AZ and took us just about 2 hours to arrive there.  The weather seems to always cooperate with our group and this day was no exception.  We arrived to blue skies and calm breezes, and several fishermen already with lines in the water.

Most people would say this hike is easy to moderate and I would tend to agree.  It is about 5 miles and the trail around the lake usually is a fairly level dirt pathway that, for the most part, stays within a few yards of the water.  We found the trail hard to follow at times because it seems it hasn’t been very traveled so far this season.  Maybe this is due to the rental of canoes, kayaks and paddleboats this season. 

Family canoeing & fishing
There were quite a few groups out enjoying the lake – boating, fishing, camping and of course hiking.  We thought it was probably because some schools were already celebrating spring break.

The lake looks small but as in many things – looks can be deceiving.  When you start the hike you can see less than half of lake and the size of the lake and the length of the hike are surprising because of the numerous inlets you continuously navigate adding to the coastline.  

One of many inlets
JoAnn - pointing the way
This is another one of those hikes that make me extremely thankful for our leader, JoAnn.  She has been on most of these hikes over the years and has a pretty good idea of the trails and which way to go, even when they are not clearly marked. 

Parker Canyon Lake is a beautiful 130-acre lake, the largest lake in the Coronado National Forest.   It is host to many wading birds, wintering eagles, and we were lucky enough to see a great grey heron soaring across the lake.  The lake was created in 1966 when the Arizona Game and Fish Department completed construction of an earthen dam at the junction of Parker Canyon, Collins Canyon, and Merritt Canyon in Canelo Hills southeast of Sonoita.  It is located just six miles north of the Mexico border. 

Ever have the feeling you were being watched?  lol

The "floating eye" in the sky
This would probably be a good time to mention "the blimp".  In the summer of 2012, the U.S. military started bringing back dozens of surveillance blimps from the battlefields of Afghanistan.  The 72-foot-long, unmanned surveillance blimp—sometimes called "the floating eye" when used to spot insurgents in Afghanistan—can help find drug runners and people trying to cross illegally into the U.S.  We had extremely good views of the blimp from the lake.  
Gordy, LaNita, Val, JoAnn and Judy
This was a very enjoyable hike.  We were able to take our time and really enjoy the scenery because there wasn't a lot of loose rocks or major climbing like some of the other trails.  

As always - we enjoyed beautiful views of the surrounding landscape and bonus - we visited one of the local wineries at the completion of the hike. Just as this was a return trip to Parker Canyon Lake, we revisited the Kief-Joshua Winery.  

It was very exciting because not only to they have the largest bloodhound I have ever seen, they also have sheep and goats and believe it or not - a wallaby!  This in itself is probably not that big of a deal, but one of the sheep had had a little baby just that morning, so going out and visiting with the new mother and baby was more interesting I think than finding out about the winery.  

Baby nursing
The baby didn't seem to be getting any milk - like we're all experts in the field right?  Anyway, we went in and got the owner and his wife and they came out and actually lay the ewe down (not an easy job) and held her down so the baby could nurse.  All very interesting.

Hikers - nursing their wine?

That was one big hound dog!
I was telling him a secret....

A Wallaby!!!!

Stay thirsty my friend.  No that's not it.... 

Oh Yes!  I remember now...

See you on the trails...


  1. A 2 hour drive for a hike...that's some seious hikers!

  2. Most of our hikes take us away from the city. It's a beautiful drive though as you get closer and closer to your destination. The mountain views are just breathtaking...although I do have a problem with some of the roads as we ascend to the trail heads. lol

  3. Lovely pictures and descriptions.

  4. Thank you Anonymous. Sometimes replies come back without a name attached. I really appreciate words of encouragement though. Next time could you put your name and location. Just so our hikers get an idea of who is commenting.

    Thanks again! Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. I have got to get down there and hit one of those trails with you.