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Hike #20 – Bootleg Lake

Bootleg Lake
Bootleg Lake

Location: From the Pinetop Post Office on SR 260 (map):

  • Drive east on 260 4.7 miles to SR73.
  • Turn right at the Hon-Dah casino on 73 and go down the hill 2.5 miles to Bootleg Lake Road on the right.
  • Turn right and drive 2.0 miles on Bootleg Lake Road and see a wooden sign advertising the lake.
  • Turn right and drive the dirt road to the lake margin, park off the road anywhere, but do not drive to the right around the lake.

Trail: There is no trail, but a few dirt logging roads that run around the lake. If you walk to the left on the road around the lake up and over a small hill, you will come down to a wooden bridge that you can cross and walk the dike to its end. It is possible to cross the ditch and creek and climb the rock face but not advisable. If you walk to the right around the lake, you will go down to a wet spot with Iris and other flowers, then up a small hill, and to the northeastern end of the lake. There is a low spot before a cliff face where there is a small marsh on both sides of the road. Continue along the road up the hill along the lake. At the top of the rise, you can walk to the left to overlook the lake at the end of the dike mentioned above. You can walk straight ahead for about 4 miles coming back to Bootleg Lake Road. But then you will have to return via either road to your car.

Trailhead: None.

Access: A day use permit is required from the Apache Reservation. Hikers, motor vehicles to the lake, but not advised beyond. Not handicap accessible except right around the parking area at the lake margin.

Distance: As far as you wish to walk on the road behind the lake.

Difficulty: Moderate on the rutted up and down dirt roads.

Features: The lake has some nesting Mallards and Pied-billed Grebes, occasional Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, and other ducks depending on season. There can be hundreds of Violet-green Swallows and other swallow species over the lake. A few Red-winged Blackbirds, Black Phoebe, and the usual warblers, wrens, woodpeckers, and other forest birds are common here. In mid summer, the lake is covered with Duckweed (Lemna sp.) that turns the surface green. Bullfrogs jump from shore as you walk by. There is a good stand of Claret Cup Cactus on the rocky hill just past the low marshy spot on the back side of the lake that blooms in spring. Other flowers include White Prairie Clover, Indian Paintbrush, Clark Valley Larkspur, Red Cinquefoil, Arizona Gumweed, False Hairy Golden Aster, cocklebur, ragweed, Sweetclover, Pineywoods Geranium, and many more.

Connections: The road back of the lake becomes Hike #10 BIA 65J after 4 miles.

Bootleg Lake
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