South of Flagstaff, a cluster of natural lakes that emerged between 1 and 5 million years ago when subterranean hollows caved in to form surface depressions that fill with snowmelt water during high-precipitation years dot the grassy plains around Mormon Lake. These ephemeral wetlands serve as important nesting habitat for waterfowl and grazing for elk. One of the more interesting of what are called the plateau lakes is Deep Lake. The crater-like depression of the lake takes your breath away. Even when dry, the yawning bowl that provides refuge for over 100 bird species is a standard-bearer for an increasingly rare and fragile ecosystem.
- LENGTH: 6 miles roundtrip
- RATING: easy
- ELEVATION: 6,964 – 7,131 feet
- BEST SEASON: May – October
- FACILTIES: none
- From Interstate 17 just south of the Interstate 40 interchange, go right on Lake Mary Road (County Road 3).
- Continue 17 miles south and turn left on Forest Road 82E for Ashurst Lake just past mile post 327 across from the turn off for Pinegrove campground.
- Drive 1.7 miles on FR 82E to Forest Road 9117F on the left.
- Park in pull outs along the road.
- Forest Road 82E is washboard gravel suitable for most carefully driven vehicles.