and Photo by Margie Anderson
Lake Mary is an ideal spot for boaters who want to
get away from the heat of the desert in summer. It is
located just southeast of Flagstaff in the Ponderosa
pines of Coconino Forest.
Lake Mary was named after Mary Riordan, a member of
one of the founding families of Flagstaff. The lake
averages about 450 acres and around 38 feet deep when
At an elevation of almost 7,000 feet, the nights can
get pretty cool and the days are lovely.
The road to Lake Mary is paved, and there are two
launch ramps, covered picnic areas, restrooms, and a
good parking area. There is no motor restriction on the
lake, so skiers as well as fishermen can enjoy a day on
Upper Lake Mary is usually what people mean when they
say "Lake Mary." The lower lake is generally close to
A Buffet Of Possible Catches
Upper Lake Mary has a thriving population of perch,
walleye, crappie, northern pike, with an occasional
walleye, and rainbow trout. There are also yellow bass,
sunfish, and channel cats.
The northern pike are the main attraction at Lake
Mary, and these voracious beasties can get pretty darn
big. They also have teeth to match, so make sure you
donít forget your pliers.
I caught a 42-inch pike at Lake Mary on my honeymoon
while fishing from shore. It took a frozen anchovy that
was rigged about a foot or so under a bobber.
My husband, a native of Wisconsin, had the necessary
experience for rigging these baits. He hooked it in the
back so that it rode along as if it were alive.
If you have a boat, fishing for the northerns is a
lot like bass fishing. Theyíll take spinnerbaits,
Chatterbaits, big Senkos, crankbaits, and just about
anything else you can think of.
We spent a day on Lake Mary recently and discovered
that the pike really like big Yamamoto jigs, too. We
rigged a smoke/red glitter skirt on a football head and
paired it with a big white twin-tail grub.
You donít have to fish it on the bottom: Just throw
it out and swim it back like a crankbait. The Yamamoto
jig out fished the spinnerbait about four to one.
Once the weeds really get growing, throwing a
spinnerbait or a red and gold in-line spinner along the
edge of the weeds is an excellent way to catch a pike.
They are predators, so reaction baits are a good choice.
They also like those big red and white spoons and
Johnson Silver Minnows. Iíd be willing to bet that
theyíd take a frog fished over the weeds, too.
Plenty Of Camping Spots
There are plenty of places to camp not far from Lake
Mary. Right across the road from the Upper lake is
Lakeview campground. Lakeview was renovated in 2002, and
it has terraced hillside camps sites in the Ponderosa
Itís an awesome place to camp, and you have a really
good chance of seeing bald eagles, osprey, and all kinds
of water birds, as well as deer and even elk. Canyon
Vista campground is closer to the Lower lake and has 15
The shoreline at Lake Mary is easily walked, so even
if you donít have a boat, you can fish. There are plenty
of good, easy day hikes in the area, too.
Visit the National Forest Web site at
and search by name for "Coconino" for up-to-the-minute
information on fire restrictions, closures, and
recreational programs in the area. You can also find
detailed information on hiking trails and campgrounds
Getting to Lake Mary couldnít be easier. Just take
I-17 to just south of Flagstaff and take exit 339 (Lake
Mary Road) east to Lake Mary.
You really canít miss it. If you need more
information, you can call the Ranger station at (928)
Campgrounds, Other Accommodations Near Lake Mary
Lakeview: across the road from Upper Lake Mary
with 30 sites. First come, first served. $12
Canyon Vista: across from the Lower Lake with 15
sites. First come, first served $12
Pine Grove: down the road a bit by the turn-off
to Ashurst Lake. 46 sites with 24 reservable. $15. Has a
dump station and coin-operated showers.
Ashurst and Forked Pine: At Ashurst Lake, just a
few miles down the road from Upper Lake Mary. 25 sites
at each campground. First come, first served. $12.
There are more campgrounds near Mormon Lake,
which is at most a half-hour drive from Upper Lake Mary.
Dairy Springs and Double Springs campgrounds have 18
sites, plus a group site. First-come first served at
single sites. $12.
Arizona Mountain Inn (928-774-8959), which you
will pass on your way to Lake Mary from Flagstaff, has
cabins to rent. There are also cabins and an RV park at
the Mormon Lake Lodge (928-354-2227), and cabins
and rooms at Montezuma Lodge (928-354-2220) near