The trail to Blythe and Chukar Lakes is short but also surprisingly entertaining. From beginning to end, the surrounding cliffs and distant vistas are spectacular to behold. Perhaps the best time to visit is in early spring when sandhill cranes arrive but before ticks and snakes awaken.
Begin at the dirt road beyond the metal gate that heads initially uphill. Blythe Lake, the largest of three lakes along the way, is on the left, while impressive basalt cliffs dominate the scene on the right. The track is sometimes rough with small rocks, bumbles up and down, but is generally easy walking.
Stay right at 0.5 mile where a narrow footpath heads steeply uphill — the track that continues left dead ends along crumbly rock. The trail heads away from the lake and tops a small rise where the views are grand in all directions. Mule deer may be present, either grazing the hills or galloping away over the horizon.
A fascinating crater sits just off to the right of the trail at the 0.9 mile mark. Another dirt track intersects this point, and the way to Chukar Lake continues to the left here. The track now heads straight toward a basalt tower where Chukar Lake can finally be seen as well as the expansive Marsh Unit and more cliffs beyond that.
Descend into the valley on another dirt track. The route turns left and then right around 1.3 miles before heading straight east toward the Marsh Unit at 1.6 miles. Here a signpost declares the marsh ‘closed to the public’ to reduce the disturbance of sandhill cranes, although another sign on the same post says, “open to hunting only Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and federal holidays.”
The adjacent Marsh Unit, which is habitat for many birds, can be reasonably admired from either the signpost or the hill a quarter mile back with good binoculars. Although many side tracks can be explored to different vistas or pocket lakes, the best way back to the trailhead is to follow the same route taken.