Tag Archives: hiking in Prescott

Hiking Spree 2018

The Highlands Center for Natural History began offering the Hiking Spree in 2008. In recognition for ten years of hiking, this year’s spree includes ten hikes from previous years and two new hikes. Maps for all eleven hiking sprees are available on the Highlands Center website.

One of the new hikes is in an area called Storm Ranch.  Like the Constellation Trail, Storm Ranch is a large loop trail with smaller loops within it. It is accessed from the Peavine Trail, which you may already be familiar with. The parking lot for the Peavine Trail is off of Prescott Lakes Parkway on Sundog Ranch Road. Once you reach the Peavine Trailhead, hike north for about two miles to Boulder Creek. If you have a bike, you can ride it to the Storm Ranch area and lock it in the bike rack. The Boulder Creek Trail will be on your right (not the lake side of the trail).

Boulder Creek is usually dry, but two days before my hike we received quite a bit of rain from Huricane Rosa. It was delightful to hike along a gurgling stream—a rare experience in Arizona.

The Hiking Spree hike included a half-mile of the Boulder Creek Trail and three-fourths of a mile through a section named Easter Island because the rock formations look like statues.  I decided to explore some of the additional trails. So I continued through Dino Canyon to the Bedrock City Trail. I never saw any dinosaurs, but that doesn’t mean they were never there.

As I was running out of time, I took the Pebbles Trail as a shortcut back. (Further up was BamBam Trail, another shortcut.) This led me to Quartz Canyon. I was at a loss to understand how it got that name as all I was seeing was granite. Then I noticed a ribbon of quartz running through the granite and decided that was what the trail was named for. Boy! was I wrong! Suddenly I found myself in an area full of quartz–large and small.  From there, I reached the Easter Island Trail that would take me back to the Peavine.

I hope to go back again and try some of the other trails I didn’t get to on this hike, and new ones as they are completed. By the time I finished my hike, I had covered about six miles. It took me a while to recover from the strenuous hike, but it took me even longer to get the Flinstones theme song out of my head.

Winter Hiking in Prescott, AZ

IMG_0518Winter is a special time for hiking in Prescott. Cooler temperatures allow longer, less sheltered hikes. Sunny days with temperatures in the upper forties to upper fifties are best, but I’ve hiked when temps were in the thirties.  You soon warm up as you hike along.

Snow creates its own challenges. Recently we hiked the Centennial trail. It is named for the Arizona Centennial and was opened in 2012. We hiked it in September of that year. It was beautiful with flowers still in bloom. This time we hiked it after a snow. The beginning of the trail was muddy, but there were plenty of boulders on both sides of the trail. In most cases we were able to step on the boulders and avoid the mud. As we came around to the north side, the trail was still covered with snow. Making our way up the north face, we tramped through snow most of the way. The snow had melted in some places, leaving  very gooey mud.  In other places it had refrozen into slippery ice flows. At various spots along  the trail we had to cross small streams. Again, strategically-placed boulders provided a way across.IMG_0522

After our climb, we descended into a secluded valley–very mystical and delightful.  After climbing out of the valley–on snow-packed trails of course– we were treated to petroglyphs and magnificent homes in Enchanted Canyon. You can reach this trail off of Gail Gardner Way. Turn onto Westridge and go about a half mile. There is a small parking lot on the right. Then walk along Westridge for about 100 yards to the trailhead.

To avoid the snow and mud, we have elected to hike the trails along Pioneer Parkway and Williamson Valley Road. Many of the trails in that area are part of the Circle Trail that goes all the way around Prescott. You can begin the Legacy trail at Kuebler Field just off of Commerce Drive. Vegetation is sparse in places which makes it great for winter hiking. The trail goes under Pioneer Parkway three times by way of nicely lighted underpasses. There are great views of the Granite Dells, Granit Mountain and Glassford Hill. You can also begin this trail off of Williamson Valley Road. There is a small parking area on the east side of the road just after the intersection with Pioneer Parkway.

IMG_0521The trails around Watson and Willow Lakes are also good choices for winter hikes. Most of the time you will be walking on boulders, and snow melts away quickly there. We usually try to avoid the trails off Walker Road or Senator Highway after a snow, but otherwise they are also good for winter hiking on warmer days.

The important thing is to get out there and hike. Spring is just around the corner and you’ll be ready as the snows melt up north and the flowers begin to bloom.

Hiking Spree 2015

IMG_0927On Sunday, Craig and I finished our eighth and final hike to complete the Hiking Spree for this year. As it was a cold, cloudy day, we chose an easy 1.7 mile hike at Thumb Butte. Driving there, I felt a little bit of de ja vu, recalling the last time we had hiked that trail. It was the first year of the Hiking Spree, and time was running out. We needed to complete two hikes in one day. The choices of hikes included two at Thumb Butte, so we decided to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. It was a cold, cloudy day, much like last Sunday but we were undaunted by the weather.

Reaching Thumb Butte, we decided take the hike to the top first in   IMG_0466case the weather went bad. The rain began just as we started up the trail. As we continued, we encountered hikers running down the trail, but we were the only ones still going up. That should have been a clue, but we pressed on. Soon the rain changed to snow. Thunder and lightning was all around us as we struggled to reach the top of the mountain, hoping we would be sheltered on the trail back down. Wind was whirling the snow around as we reached the top. The steep switchbacks that lead back down the mountain are paved and a rail is provided for safety. Since we didn’t have gloves and there was lightning all around, we were afraid to touch the metal rail.

As is typical of Arizona, the storm ended just as we finished our hike. Cold and wet, we sat in our car and warmed up. Then we hiked the second trail as the sun began to peek through the clouds.

Fortunately for us, the weather held out on Sunday and we enjoyed a lovely hike with beautiful views of Thumb Butte. This year’s Hiking Spree included many trails along the Prescott Circle Trail–50 miles of trails that go all the way around Prescott. One of those is the Longview trail, beginning on Williamson Valley Road, just past the light at Pioneer Parkway. Along the hike, we were treated to views of Glassford Hill, Granite Dells, and Mingus Mountain.

I was surprised to discover a wonderful trail tucked neatly into the middle of Prescott at Aker Park. To get there, you simply drive south on Virginia Street until it ends. We took the longest trail–only 1.6 miles long–and took our daughter, Kirstin, along for the fun. We even had time left over to explore the Odd Fellows Cemetery in the southwest corner of the park. I was unable to find the famous Prescottonians buried there,(James Aker, James Cleator, and Barlow-Massick) but not from lack of looking. Kirstin was anxious to get home to do her laundry and so I was forced to give up my search.

IMG_0100 (2)We did enjoy some of the longer, 4-7 mile hikes. John’s Tank is a hike near Lynx Lake–trail 94 just east of the dam. I had seen that trail before and wanted to try it, but it was closed at the time because eagles were nesting there. It was a nice hike with views of the lake, creeks and lots of ups and downs. Goldwater Lake West is a hike that goes around the While Spar Campground and finishes on the old Schoolhouse Gulch Road. Though it doesn’t go near Goldwater Lake, it is still a marvelous hike through the pines.

We only lost our way once this year, which is probably a record. When we hiked the Southwest portion of the Ranch Trail (The Rancho Vista Trail in book three is based on the Ranch Trail.), we decided to take the longer route that was a loop back to our car on Senator Highway. Unfortunately, we made a wrong turn when we were circling back.  The trail we took south was a very steep, rocky old jeep road. It seemed like we were going the right way until we reached the bottom of the trail which suddenly turned east toward Walker Road. Fortunately, we ran into a very kind fellow hiker we had encountered previously. She suggested that we continue to Walker Road and then she drove us back to our car on Senator Highway–saving us about four miles of additional hiking.

If you live in or near Prescott, I highly recommend the Hiking Spree, a program of the Highlands Center for Natural History. It is a good way to get in the habit of hiking regularly. If you are planning to come to Prescott to do some hiking, I suggest you check out the Highlands Center website. (highlandscenter.org) Not only will you find maps for this year’s Hiking Spree, but also maps from previous years. These are very detailed maps with driving directions and points of interest to look for on your hike.

Happy Hiking!