Bannon Creek Trail to Trail #396

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Prescott National Forest

Bannon Creek Trail to Trail #396 is a 5.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Prescott, Arizona that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from April until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 5.1 miles Elevation Gain: 649 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

kid friendly


nature trips


bird watching





This is a nice 5 mile hike with the possibility of being longer if you have more time.  Park at Goldwater Lake Park and start your hike on the Bannon Creek Trail which traverses along the shore of the Upper Goldwater Lake.  Near the bridge on the Bannon Creek Trail, take a short side trail that connects with Prescott National Forest Trail #396, a trail that is popular with mountain bikers.  At the spring, you can let your dogs splash around for a bit before heading back to Goldwater Lake Park.  Trail #396 continues for several more miles to the White Spar Campground, so this hike could easily be extended into a 9-10 mile out and back trip.  Enjoy!

Great hike! Super cool weather . $3 parking fee and there is bathrooms. Grills and tables all over!

24 days ago

Beautiful with wildlife great easy hike lots of great views and different levels of hikes. Also great if you are bringing your kids.

1 month ago

Beautiful Lost of families and dogs. Definitely worth the drive Currently No fee due to covid but there is no restrooms either.

Hike is listed as 7.6 but we clocked 9.1 miles. It was beautiful and worth the long trek. Just wish some parts of the trail weren’t so close to the road. Also, the logging was kind of sad lots of connecting trails, so probably best to download the map first.

Great trail! I took an accidental detour as the markers are a bit confusing but it worked out fine. I took a purposeful detour to eat my snacks by the lake (using the city of Prescott trail) which I highly recommend. A few areas of runoff that ran into the trail. Most areas are smooth sailing and others have more loose rocks to watch out for.

3 months ago

3 months ago

Easy side of moderate. Beautiful in winter. Had few inches of snow on most of the trail and was muddy in some areas. Trail was easy to follow. Recommended.

As with another reviewer, I clocked 5.7 miles in a little under two hours. Easy side of moderate for most of it. Was a little steeper, solid moderate the first leg of the return. The first 0.5 miles are heavily trafficked with lots of picnic tables, benches and water access for families and small boats. After that only saw a few mountain bikers. Very peaceful little creek at the turnaround.

9 months ago

The trail was very nice. There’s been some thinning of the forest on parts of the trail but that’s normal to keep the forest healthy. The creek at the turnaround point was really nice for our dogs to jump in.

Mon Jun 03 2019

Pretty walk thru mixed conifers

Sun Mar 31 2019

Loggers have absolutely destroyed this trail. It doesn’t even exist anymore. The trail sign was even run over. Me and my dog bushwhacked for about a mile and then gave up and turned around. Real shame. Being in the woods was beautiful. Shame that it is being allowed to destroy this area, I’m guessing to build million dollar homes. How sad.

Thu Mar 28 2019

Very nice trail through a mixed tree forest. Water views of the two lakes from above as most of the trail is high on the side hill. The trail eventually drops down to a beautiful location at the creek. We had problems on Mar. 27 accessing the trail after it leaves the first lake and begins heading uphill as a logging and tree thinning crew were working in the area. They had blocked a large portion of the trail and we had to scramble through brush to find the trail above. Hopefully they will clean up their mess. Overall, it was a great hike. Our lab enjoyed it, and had swims in the lake and the creek.

Sat Mar 02 2019

I absolutely loved this trail. I was the only one there the entire time and it was peaceful and tranquil. The hike in, alongside the upper and lower Goldwater Lake, was easy and you have beautiful views of the water and the dam. The creek at the end of the trail was running very fast and it is a beautiful spot for a picnic right by the water. On my way back I felt more challenged but I assume that the partially deep snow had a lot to do with it. There are no trail signs but many trees have blue ribbons which made it’s easy to follow the trail. I agree that this is a moderate hike and would recommend it to anyone that is in somewhat good shape. I finished the 5.7 miles (according to my gps) in 2 hours.

Sun Dec 02 2018

Thoroughly enjoyed this hike with a couple of friends. We encountered one horse, 5 or 6 mountain bikers and just as many other hikers. You can pay the $3 with card. Facilities at recreational area were decent. I can see this place being pretty busy in the Spring and Summer. If we are ever back in Prescott, we will likely come back for birding!

Fri Aug 17 2018

Nice easy trail for me and my older pup. The creek was a bit disappointing but the views were lovely anyway. The trail gets plenty of shade in the earlier hours, but gets a lot of sun in the afternoon. The directions were slightly misleading, you don't follow any side trails after the bridge, just follow the main trail around the lake and keep going straight after you pass the Lake. There is a small (3$) fee to park at the lake.

23 days ago

2 months ago

2 months ago

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