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The hills around Lake Pleasant display a classically vibrant Sonoran Desert landscape, but with a major splash of additional color in the blue reservoir.
One of the best hikes at Lake Pleasant is Pipeline Trail to Yavapai Point.
It offers all the highlights of a desert trail—huge cacti, wildflowers, scurrying lizards, and big vistas—plus a swimming spot in cool water. The trail wanders among a diversity of vegetation like giant saguaro, teddy bear cholla, ocotillo, and palo verde.
The cacti bloom in spring, along with yellow Mexican poppies and other wildflowers.
The views culminate at Yavapai point, with huge vantage over the widest part of the lake and mountains beyond.
A bench provides a scenic spot to rest before turning back the way you came. Most of the hike is in the panoramic hills above and some distance away from the lake shore.
Pipeline Cove is where the trail reaches the water, and there’s a floating bridge to cross it.
At times of low water the bridge rests on dry ground, and at high water it falls short of the gap, but normally it provides easy passage over shallow water.
This is also the swimming spot where you can cool off.
If the lake level is low, you’ll find water by walking a short distance down the dry wash. Even though you can swim, you should still bring plenty of water and avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day.
There is no drinking water and no shade anywhere along the trail. Note: Pipeline Canyon has another trailhead at its north end, in Cottonwood Day Use Area.
Beginning from there makes a shorter hike to Yavapai Point, but skips the swimming opportunity that you get by starting at the south trailhead.