Sometimes it’s a lake. Sometimes it’s not. Lower Lake Mary, the smaller of Flagstaff’s twin lakes, has a tendency to disappear during the long dry spells that periodically hit this area. When the lake has water in it, which actually is much of the time, its banks are usually lined with anglers trying to catch the trout which the Arizona Game and Fish Department stocks here. If it stays full for a year or two, it will pick up a population of northern pike and catfish.
No Reservations | Day Use Site. Open from May 1st to October 7th.
Access to this lake is directly off Forest Highway 3 (Lake Mary Road). The Lower Lake Mary Picnic Area at the northwestern end of the lake offers a great picnic location, no matter how high or low the water is, with wide open views and lots of tables and grills under ramadas.
During the warm season it is a good place to watch elk, deer, bald eagles, great blue herons and other waterfowl. This is also a good location to bring a kite or bicycle (Lake Mary Road, aka Forest Highway 3, is a popular road for bicycle fans and racers).
This picnic area is conveniently close to Flagstaff and offers access to a number of different areas where you can enjoy your favorite outdoor recreation. When Lower Lake Mary has water in it, it’s a popular place to fish for catfish and trout, depending on which has been stocked most recently. When it’s dry, it’s a good place to fly a kite. Lake Mary Road has wide paved shoulders and makes an excellent place to bike, roller blade or jog. Not too far away you’ll find the Sandy’s Canyon Trail which leads into an area of picturesque small canyons, big trees, and even bigger views. All this activity has been known to cause forest visitors to work up quite an appetite, hence the need for a picnic area.
Take Lake Mary Road (FH 3) south-east from Flagstaff, 7 miles. The day use parking area is on the west side of the road.