Arizona Vacation

Willow Springs Lake
Near Payson and Heber Arizona

By AZ Leisure Staff Writers

Photo of Willow Springs Lake Near Payson ArizonaWillow Springs Lake Near Payson. © Alan Levine

Location & Description. Like its nearby sister-lake, Wood Canyon, Willow Creek is one of the most accessible of the Rim lakes and has a very scenic setting in a heavily forested area on the edge of the Mogollon Rim. The landscape which includes Ponderosa Pine, Oak and Douglas Fir trees is simply gorgeous and at an elevation of about 7,500 feet, visitors can expect very pleasant temperatures in the spring and summer months. It's four season territory with a cool, colorful autumn, and a cold and snowy winter.

The lake is located about 23 miles east of Payson, Arizona and 22 miles southwest of Heber off US 260 on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. Trophy size catches have occurred here.

Lake Size. The water surface of the lake is 158 acres with an average depth of 60 feet.

Fish Variety. Rainbow Trout, Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass.

Fishing. Willow Springs Lake is stocked weekly with catchable size Rainbow trout from May through September annually. When fishing from the shore, try nightcrawlers. Trolling for trout is usually productive. Spinner baits and artificial worm rigs work well for bass around underwater structure. In the summer the fish typically move to deeper depths of between 10 to 20 feet. The lake contains crayfish, so using lures that imitate them is a good way to attract bass. A fishing license with a trout stamp is required for anglers over 13 years old. The daily bag limit is six trout and six bass and bass limits are halved for unlicensed anglers 13 and younger.

Boating. Boat motors are restricted to electric or 10 hp or less gas motors.

Willow Springs Lake

Camping, Hiking & Amenities. There is a paved boat ramp. Amenities include barrier-free toilets, 2 picnic ramadas and 2 boat beaches. There are 2 campgrounds including the Sinkhole Campground which is closest to the lake and is open year-round. It has 26 camping sites, barrier-free toilets and drinking water. Camping fee is $12 per vehicle and is subject to change.

The much larger Canyon Point Campground, is located 3 miles east of Forest Road 149, adjacent to Highway 260. It has 100 single-family sites, plus two group sites that can accommodate up to 40 people and 70 people respectively. The campground features potable water, a shower building, dump station and barrier-free toilets. Some sites have electricity. Daytime and evening programs on nature-related topics are presented in the campground amphitheater from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The campground is open from May 1 to October 31. Fees vary, call (877) 444-6777 for more information.

Directions To Willow Springs Lake

From Heber. Take Highway 260 West to Forest Road 149. Follow signs. About 22 miles west of Heber Overgaard, Arizona.

From Payson. Take Highway 260 East to Forest Road 149. Follow signs. About 31 miles east of Payson, Arizona.

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