We tried a new adventure today. We went up to Payson Lakes for a picnic. We’ve been up Payson Canyon many times– mostly to drive the Nebo Scenic Loop, but this time, we stopped at the lake for a picnic. Because it was Labor Day, there were quite a few people there, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, fishing, picnicking, and hiking, but we still found a prime spot for our picnic and had a fun day.
The lake has two entrance points: one from the main road and one through the campground just off the main road. These entrances are about 12 miles up the canyon when you drive the Nebo Loop from Payson. It costs $7 for a day-use pass through either entrance. There is a nice “beach” where canoes are launched on both sides of the lake.
We enjoyed a leisurely stroll on the path around the lake. The trail is paved and it’s a mile walk around. We love the old fence next to the shady trail–great spot for pictures, especially in the fall when the leaves are beautiful here.
We saw a few animals, too, including squirrels, chipmunks, an osprey, two turkey vultures, and a fluffy caterpillar. (On a recent trip to this same area, I saw a black bear, 3 badgers, 5 ruffed grouse, a female mallard with her 5 ducklings, and a doe with 2 tiny fawns.)
We love driving up Payson Canyon in the fall. You can find some great spots to take pictures (check out our pictures from last year here). There are also some awesome hikes. The Grotto Falls hike is super easy for all ages. Loafer Mountain is a long hike (11 miles), but you can just do part of it and turn back. These activities are free–you don’t have to pay to enter this canyon, just to go to the lake.