Looking for the best view over Lake Pleasant? The Pipeline Canyon Trail to Yavapai Point offers a spectacular 360-degree view from the peak and a wonderful experience along the way. From wider, well-maintained trails via Pipeline to narrower, steeper areas on Yavapai Point, you won't be disappointed with the trail variety or the flora and fauna. In spring you can expect to see Mexican gold poppies, desert globemallow, and brittlebush. Keep an eye out for burros, as well! You may see them on the trail or roaming the hills nearby.
To start this hike, park in the Cottonwood Day Use Area parking lot, on the west side of Lake Pleasant and just off of Cottonwood Lane. From here you will head south on Pipeline Canyon Trail. The trailhead and any junctions along the way are clearly marked with tall signage. You'll first reach the junction of the Pipeline Canyon Trail and the Cottonwood Trail; keep left to stay on Pipeline. You'll follow Pipeline along the left side of the hill, through a small wash, and onward toward the next junction. You will have the opportunity at the next junction to stay on Pipeline or keep left and start the hike up to Yavapai Point. Continuing down Pipeline Canyon offers some spectacular views of poppies in the spring, but the view from Yavapai Point is unbeatable. (Note: If you are on horseback or a bike, you cannot continue up Yavapai Point. It is a hiking only trail).
The hike up Yavapai Point becomes narrower, a little more rocky, and steep in some sections. It quickly transitions to switchbacks, which help mitigate the steepness. This section is a short quarter mile and well worth the effort. Once you reach the peak on Yavapai Point you can see Hell's Canyon, Baldy Mountain, and Peak 3465 to the west. The Bradshaw mountains will be to the north and North Phoenix to the southeast. And, of course, you'll see Lake Pleasant to the east!
If the bench at the top is free, take a moment to relax and take in the sights. It is a good opportunity for a light snack and some water before you head back down the trail.