C.C. Cragin Reservoir, formerly known as Blue Ridge Reservoir, is an idyllic lake meandering through a narrow forested valley in Arizona’s Mogollon Rim country. C.C. Cragin’s serpentine character makes it feel more like a river than a lake. Fluctuating water levels often expose cliffs that make great platforms for jumping in. The calm, flat waters are excellent for swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, or kayaking. If fishing is your forte, boats under 10 horsepower are allowed, and the lake is stocked by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Brook, brown, and rainbow trout can all be caught here.
Facilities at the lake are limited to a boat ramp and pit toilets. Be sure to bring your own water and pack out your trash. Although this lake sees moderate to heavy use, the long winding shape makes it easy to find a bit of solitude. Also, because this lake is located in the high country, expect it to be much cooler here than some of Arizona’s other reservoirs.
A short drive (high clearance required) or stroll down a gravel road past the pit toilets takes you to a picturesque dam and spillway. The dam was constructed in 1963 by the Phelps Dodge Corporation and is a barrel arch dam reaching 160 feet up. While there is no designated camping at the lake, Rock Crossings Campground is just 3 miles away, and dispersed camping is allowed in the forest just a bit further down Forest Road 751.
Google maps has a history of leading people 45 minutes out of the way to the wrong side of the lake. Instead, follow the directions listed here. The last 5 miles of the drive are on an unpaved Forest Service road that is closed in the winter.