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Navajo-Hopi Observer | Flagstaff, Arizona

home : features : features August 28, 2014


8/27/2013 10:35:00 AM
Hiking opportunities and wildlife encounters abound near Bill Williams Mountain
A small doe lies under a tree near Cataract Lake in Williams. Photo/Stan Bindell
A small doe lies under a tree near Cataract Lake in Williams. Photo/Stan Bindell
Cataract Lake offers an easy walk at the base of Bill Williams Mountain in Williams, Ariz. Photo/Stan Bindell
Cataract Lake offers an easy walk at the base of Bill Williams Mountain in Williams, Ariz. Photo/Stan Bindell
Stan Bindell
The Observer

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - Wildlife experiences can happen in the oddest places. When you hike out in the wilderness you expect to come across anything from bear to deer to javelina.

But when you are close to a city, even a small city, it's unexpected when nature's creatures come to visit.

Bill Williams Mountain near Williams is one of the best hikes in Arizona, but on this day when I went on a walkabout I headed for Cataract Lake to check out the birds and wildlife. I got more than I expected.

I decided to hike around the lake, which is not much more than one mile even though the lake covers 20 acres. Figure the math out on that one. After circling the lake, I decided to go half way around the lake one more time so I could go out the back end and walk past the golf course.

As I was walking toward the back end of the park, I saw two small animals standing still. At first, the animals looked like two small dogs or puppies. As I walked closer, I could see it was two small does. They couldn't have been more than a week or two old, and they couldn't have been cuter.

Even with my long camera lens, I always get as close to animals as safely possible knowing that they will run off. At least that's what they usually do. I kept walking closer and closer expecting them to run off at any moment.

Instead, when I came within about five feet of these babies, they lay down. That's right. They lay down. I was stunned.

So, I lay down too staying about five feet away from them. I put down some water for them in case they needed it, but we were all in the shade covered by some large pine trees. They weren't interested in the water. They didn't appear scared, but they weren't going to come right up to me either.

After about 15 minutes of watching and admiring the animals, I walked out several miles past the golf course, passing several adult deer along the way and returned only to find the does in the same place.

Again, I sat down next to them. This time, I ate a snack while I watched the does. I put down a little more water for them. They looked healthy. Cataract Lake was right near by so I left and went on my way.

I usually look for wilderness experiences, but the two cute does made this memorable.

Most visitors to Cataract Lake will not be lucky enough to have the same experience, but they can still have a good time. The mountain lake is known to fisherman for its bass, catfish and bluegill. The lake offers grassy campsites among the ponderosa pines. Ducks and herons also visit the lake.

Cataract Lake is part of the Williams Ranger District on the Kaibab National Forest. More information is available at (928) 635-5600.

Directions:

From I-40, take Exit 161, and turn onto Golf Course Road. After going under the railroad tracks, turn right and go one mile to the entrance on the left. This route is not suitable to RVs because they won't fit under the railroad tracks.


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