Hiking Near Lake Havasu City? Please Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace while hiking near Lake Havasu City, AZ.
Want to help ensure our trails are there for many generations to come? Leave No Trace is a universal philosophy that could and should be part of any outdoor experience.
There are Seven Principles to remember.

The idea is simple – leave the places you enjoy as good or better than you found them. The Leave No Trace organization believes that if people do something, even something simple, to help take care of the recreational resources they cherish, we will all benefit. Cleaner water, fewer wildfires, fewer negative encounters with wildlife, less damage/loss of cultural and historic artifacts are just a few of the benefits of adhering to Leave No Trace.

It’s impossible to leave absolutely no trace of your visit to the outdoors. However, the primary goal of Leave No Trace is to prevent the avoidable impacts and minimize the unavoidable impacts. By doing so we can protect and preserve both natural resources and the quality of recreational experiences. This can also minimize the need for restrictive management activities by land managers.

“Areas like Lake Havasu City attract many visitors that the economy relies on. With that, comes increased lake activities such as water sports, camping, and trail usage, to name a few,” says Tucson-based Cindy de Leon Reilly, Arizona Leave No Trace Advocate and Master Educator.

“These increases create negative impacts such as trash, erosion, wildlife (in the water and on land), and vegetation impacts. Educating both visitors and residents in Leave No Trace ethics is a start to caring for the region and its resources.

“As a hiker, gear up with your essential gear and pack out your trash. Packing out others’ trash would also help. Additionally, know where you are going and respect the wildlife at a distance. Leash your pet, as to not disturb others. Enjoy the beauty of nature and leave only your footprints. And know the rules and regulations in the area, as it will be beneficial to the region,” Cindy advises.

“Ultimately, the bird species, insects, fish, and other wildlife will increase in numbers. Visitors will become more considerate, and residents would be more appreciative of the results.”

The Leave No Trace Seven Principles are:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Learn more at: www.lnt.org
For more information on hiking trails in the Lake Havasu City region, visit the hiking section of GoLakeHavasu.com.

Scout’s Honor

Jona Silverstein leads trail improvement project at SARA Park, Lake Havasu City, AZ
SARA Park just got a lot easier to navigate … and a bit safer.

A local 14 year-old, Jona Silverstein, has recently earned his Eagle Scout rank, an honor also held by the late astronaut Neil Armstrong, former President Gerald R. Ford, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Jona’s road to the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America was actually a series of trails in SARA (Special Activities and Recreation Area) Park. Last month, the Lake Havasu High School ninth grader, with the help of 15 volunteers, completed his Eagle Project by installing location markers in the park.

Jona’s project was to put in signage to assist rescue personnel in locating hurt or lost hikers. The signs have been numbered which will correspond with a trail map of the park. Additionally, new signs have been installed to assist hikers to get to the picnic table on Lizard Peek Trail. Volunteers included ASU Outdoor Pursuit Club, Sea Scout Ship 450, Boy Scout Troop 55, one member of the Lake Havasu City Fire Department, Amanda Deeds of the BLM, and Tim O’Connor, head of the Leaping Lizards hiking group.

Since its introduction in 1911, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by more than two million young men. The rank of “Eagle Scout,” which must be earned by age 18, is held for life, thus giving rise to the phrase “Once an Eagle, always an Eagle.”

Flower Power

Image courtesy of Joshua Tree National Park

Hikers in the Lake Havasu region love wildflowers. Let’s face it, who doesn’t? The desert, at first glance, can seem like a barren, sandy wasteland of cacti and rocks. However, with a little rain and a little sunshine, Arizona’s desert flowers come to life. Desert wildflowers, tiny little miracles of nature that remain hidden much of the year, will come alive and burst with color and aroma in the springtime (and sometimes after the monsoon season in the summer). But beware: there’s one pretty flower you’ll never want to pick.

This spring is likely to be a very good blooming season, following an El Nino weather pattern that delivered fall and winter rains to much of the region. Some are calling it a “super bloom,” especially in Death Valley, perhaps the best wildflower year since 2005, a banner season deemed the best in 50 years.

This is the year to plan a series of outings during the next few months in search of wildflowers as they progress from low to high elevations. It might also be a good time to invest in a field guide to western wildflowers so you will know what you are viewing.

That’s especially important when it comes to the scorpion weed. More on that in a moment.

Margo Bartlett Pesek of the Las Vegas Review-Journal advises, “Look for early wildflowers along the highways toward the Colorado River, such as the scenic roads from U.S. Highway 95 through Nelson and Eldorado Canyon, through Searchlight to Cottonwood Cove and through the mountains down to Laughlin. Roadside flowers on highways paralleling the river south of Laughlin and Bullhead City, and the highway to Lake Havasu City, should also get an early start.”

She adds, “Desert wildflowers should keep blooming until the onset of hot days.”

That brings us to the scorpion weed, also known as Blue Phacelia or Wild Heliotrope. It’s a pretty purple flower that grows in abundance in the Lake Havasu area and has a vivid purple color. But don’t be tempted to pick this desert blossom, not that you should pick any wildflower. Coming in contact with scorpion weed can have a similar reaction as touching poison ivy or oak.

Scorpion weed flowers, stems and seed pods are covered in dozens, or even hundreds of “hairs,” each containing an oil that can cause rashes and itching comparable to the effects of poison oak or poison ivy. Scratching the itch does little more than to spread the oil on a person’s skin and making the problem worse.

Scorpion weed oil can also be transferred indirectly from clothing, furniture, rugs and family pets that have been exposed to the weed.

It’s best to look, but don’t touch.

The Desert Botanical Garden’s Wildflower Info Site, based in Phoenix, provides up-to-date reports on desert wildflower blooms. The site, a collaborative effort by 21 parks and gardens, is live during the months of March and April.

In western Arizona, participating parks and gardens include: Kofa National Wildlife Refuge and BLM – Colorado River District (Lake Havasu).

For a list of wildflowers commonly found in the Lake Havasu region, visit the Lake Havasu City CVB website at GoLakeHavasu.com.

Brooklyn’s Loss is Lake Havasu City’s Gain – Hiking Lake Havasu City with Steve Eskenazi

Steve Eskenazi hiking in Lake Havasu City, Arizona area
What Ansel Adams is to Yosemite National Park, and John Muir is to the Sierra Nevada of California, Steve Eskenazi is to Lake Havasu City. It’s not a bad legacy for a Brooklynite.

Steve Eskenazi, 67, has an enviable nomadic life. A lifelong bachelor, he lives out of a 24-ft. motorhome and has been hiking in the western national parks for the past 30 years. In the summer he moves his RV to Oregon. That way, as he put it over some breakfast bagels recently, he can “get my ocean fix.” Hiking? Not so much in the summer. “There are too many trees hiding the bears in Oregon.”

Originally from Brooklyn, he couldn’t be any more of a New Yorker. He grew up two blocks from the Coney Island Cyclone in famous Luna Park, right near Nathan’s Famous hot dogs stand. He started working at a Carvel ice cream store at age 16.

“I never had to pay for ice cream as a kid,” he boasts.

Steve first discovered Lake Havasu City in November 2000 when he came to visit a friend. He has been coming back to Crazy Horse Campgrounds on the Island to enjoy the mild winters from November to March ever since

Quick to admit his lifestyle is “not for everybody,” the retired Florida high school physics teacher with a degree in chemical engineering started off leading hikes for groups of his friends at the campground.

One day while visiting the Lake Havasu City Visitor Information Center, he met Visitor Services Director Jan Kassies. Jan immediately recruited him to update an old hiking brochure. The rest is hiking history. He turned it into a 32-page book with text and photos.

He also volunteered his time and energy to develop the vast majority of the editorial content and maps and provided many photographs contained in the Hiking section of www.golakehavasu.com. Much of the information is periodically updated to account for changing environmental conditions, such as natural erosion.

Today he leads hikes around the region. Dead Burro Canyon is his favorite. It travels through a deep scenic canyon in Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, a wilderness setting where very few trails exist. Wild burro and bighorn sheep are often sighted. Steve calls it a real adventure with drop-offs and two-foot ledges.

“It’s not a walk in the park,” he says, adding, “Hiking in the Lake Havasu area is growing. People are using the trails more and more and there’s a wealth of hiking information on the CVB’s website and at the Visitor Information Center.”

Steve also has a list of “secret” hikes he doesn’t like to publicize because of limited trailhead parking. You’ll just have to get to know him better to pry those locations out of him.

Hike on Tribal Land

Ferry to Havasu Landing from Lake Havasu City AZ
Take the Tecopa ferry across Lake Havasu to hike on tribal lands.

As part of the Great Basin Culture Area, the Chemehuevi (a Mojave term meaning “those that play with fish”), a branch of the Southern Paiute, have been nomadic residents of the mountains, canyons and Colorado River shoreline for thousands of years. You can experience their strong traditions by visiting and hiking on tribal lands.

Few people realize that the Chemehuevi reservation, located across the lake from Lake Havasu City, comprises approximately 32,000 acres of trust land that includes 30 miles of Colorado River frontage. Connected to the reservation on the west side is land overseen by the Bureau of Land Management, expanding the total area of open terrain for exploring. The Chemehuevi Indian Tribe allows fishing, hunting, camping, and off-roading with a permit that’s available from the Havasu Landing Marina Store. No permit is necessary for hiking.

“On tribal lands we have no ‘defined’ hiking trails. However, by speaking to locals and tribal elders, places of interest can be found,” says John J. Csicsery, property manager for Havasu Landing Resort.

“In the past, tribal history and destinations have been shared verbally and will continue to be shared in this manner.”

You can drive to the reservation, or take an enjoyable 20-min. ride on the tribe’s “Tecopa” ferry from the dock near the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City.

SARA Park Trailhead Improvements Planned

Lizard Peek Trail, SARA Park Lake Havasu City
Lizard Peek is just one of the hiking trails in SARA Park.

Ever since the Hiking section of the GoLakeHavasu.com website was launched, traffic to the rustic desert park’s five hiking trails has grown substantially. The city is stepping up to make the main trailhead closest to the north side entrance a much better experience.

Soon, bathrooms will be available at the SARA Park trailhead, thanks to a grant received by the city. New bathrooms are planned for construction after a water main is installed to serve the trailhead, improve water service and fire protection for the entire park, and allow landscaping improvements, according to Charlie Cassens, city manager.

“The concept for the trailhead is to expand parking and provide day-use opportunities such as picnic tables, shade structures, a drinking fountain for hikers and dogs, and a rest and staging area for mountain bikers and other trail users,” Cassens tells us, predicting completion in one to two years.

SARA Park offers some spectacular views of desert scenery and wildlife and is easy to locate. There is a system of markers along the main routes through the Crack in the Mountain slot canyon, down to Lake Havasu and back. For information on SARA Park hiking trails, as well as other area hikes, visit the Lake Havasu City Convention & Visitors Bureau website.

Threading the Needle

Rovey's Needle, south of Lake Havasu City, AZ.
Rovey’s Needle is just 15 miles south of Lake Havasu City

Rovey’s Needle is an isolated geological wonder about 15 miles south of town on the east side of Highway 95. It’s sometimes called Holey Rock or Honeycomb Rock because of the hole in the middle and its honeycomb texture. Extremely limited and potentially hazardous parking off the closest trailhead from Ariz-95 prevents us from publicizing exact directions to the location.

You can reach Rovey’s Needle by four-wheeling up a dirt road. For hiking enthusiasts, it is about a five-mile roundtrip, taking a maximum of three hours, according to local hiking guide Steve Eskenazi. He tells us it involves wash walking and climbing up a few short dry waterfalls to reach its base, about 1,250 feet above sea level.

Once there, you can climb through a hole (the eye of the needle) from one flat area to another. Birds make their homes in the honeycombed patterns on the walls, no doubt attracted by a view of the scenic wide valley below. GPS coordinates for Rovey’s Needle are  34.330398, -114.102050

To learn more about hiking near Lake Havasu City, visit the Lake Havasu City Convention & Visitors Bureau website.

Why Arizona’s Best Hikes Are In Lake Havasu City

best hikes in arizona

The landscape of Arizona features exciting topography that offers the best hikes in the state for hikers of all backgrounds. Lake Havasu City especially is home to many of the featured and iconic hiking trails that hikers from all over the States come to traverse. If you’re looking for some of the best hikes in Arizona, as well as a few other options and activities, Lake Havasu City is the place for you.

For the thrill-seeking types, Lake Havasu City has hikes for backpackers, adventurers, or day-explorers. One premier hike is Cupcake Mountain, just across the lake on the California side of the border. With just the right amount of difficulty in grappling rocks, and climbing without gear, Cupcake Mountain offers one of the most beautiful views of the desert, the city, and of course the view of a thousand stars and our Milky Way. Many hikers find Cupcake Mountain an absolute joy and pleasure both technically and physically.

Even if you don’t consider yourself the next great American explorer, fear not. Some of the best Arizona hikes for the day-tripper, leisure trekker, or casual camper are located in or near Lake Havasu City. Our Water Tank Hike takes visitors around a scenic landscape around Aubrey Hills, and leads them to the iconic Shiprock Mountain, or “Mountain with Wings” as otherwise known. This massive stone structure rises above the empty plains and stands in its majestic beauty against a beautiful desert sky. Definitely a must-see if looking for an easier hike.

Another great option is the popular Crack in the Mountain Trail. Visitors pass through one of the most famous tall and narrow canyons, and finish at a gorgeous cove on the lake besidea curious rock structure known as “Balance Rock”. How did this incredibly large rock find itself atop an incredibly narrow stone column? This is just another great example of the beauty and mystery hidden throughout Lake Havasu City.

Lake Havasu City offers breathtaking, challenging, as well as safe and fun hikes for people of all hiking abilities. And while challenge is just one part of the memory-making equation, accessibility and entertainment may also help to produce a quality family vacation or adventurous escapade. So if you’d like to enjoy a hike with just enough challenge and scenery during the daytime, but prefer cleaning up nicely during the evening, Lake Havasu City is one of the best places to visit for nighttime entertainment, fine dining, and activities that range from Casinos to beaches and bonfires. So what are you waiting for? The best hikes in Arizona are waiting for you!

Wonder(Fall) Hike

Western Journey Sept 2014

Denver freelance writer Ted Alan Stedman is a big fan of the Crack in the Mountain Trail which showcases Sonoran Desert geology. He writes in the September/October 2014 AAA Western Journey magazine, “The five-mile route snakes through a spectacular red rock slot canyon to serene Balance Rock Cove, where the huge namesake rock sits precariously atop a stone column.”

Read his other tips for outdoor adventures in the region at GoLakeHavasu.com and check out available tours to the places featured in the article in everything from a kayak to a jetboat.

Hiking Tips From the Experts

Hiking boot footprint

We consulted the American Hiking Society (AHS) so we could trot out a few tips to prepare you before your next off-road, on-foot excursion. Here’s some of what we found.

The AHS says nearly every visit has something in common: trails. So we want to care for those trails and keep them viable for us. The first step is to take a hike. If you’re not out enjoying trails, you won’t feel the strong pull to save them.

Second, but very important, is to adopt Leave No Trace ethics. The classic “Leave only footprints, take only pictures.”

Walking got you down with those blister blues? First: prevent blisters ahead of time by wearing the correct shoes and socks, and wrapping any areas where you are likely to blister with athletic tape or another barrier. Always keep fresh, dry socks with you to minimize chafing, and treat blisters with appropriate products like moleskin, not harsh, chemical adhesives like duct tape, as much as we’re a fan of the sticky stuff for other uses.

The AHS has many, many tips and tricks for preparation, gear, outdoor skills and first aid on their excellent resources page.