Tag Archives: Prescott

It’s hikin’ time again in Prescott, AZ

dscn0317The 2016 Hiking Spree is underway at the Highlands Center for Natural History. For our third hike, we chose the spectacular Constellation Trail. It is located at the site of the 1959 crash of a Lockheed Constellation. A memorial to the five men who died there can be found atdscn0301 the beginning of the trail as well as pieces of the wreckage.


The trail is west of Highway 89, just south of Highway 89-A. You can park in the lower parking lot at Phippen Museum and use the tunnel to go under Highway 89.  The Constellation is actually made up of small loops inside a large loop. This allows hikers to plan short and long hikes. But you’ll want to allow plenty of time. No matter what my plans, I always end up spending more time than I expect. I get caught up in the wonder of it all.

dscn0304It had rained hard the day before leaving water along the way, but most of the trail was dry.  We began our hike on the North 40, which goes along the base of the large granite formations. Then we took a newly added loop called Ham and Cheese. The trail wove through the granite rocks as if they were made of Swiss cheese, making us feel like we were part of the sandwich–Does that mean the hikers are the ham?dscn0310 Next we took a trail called the Hully Gully. A walk across the face of granite rocks (the Hully) led us to a flower-lined gully.  Our next leg of the hike was the Lost Wall. This part was steeper than the other parts of our hike. I was envious of the lizards that made it seem so easy to go  up the granite boulders. But then they do have four feet instead of two and a much lower center of gravity.

dscn0318The lost wall is part of what was probably a sheep pen,  built more than one hundred years ago.  We skipped the Hole in the Wall loop that goes steeply up through a crack between the rocks. We have done that trail before and it is a fun one. Returning back to the trailhead via the Rock Wall Trail, we were treated to picturesque views of the Dells along with unbelievable rock formations.dscn0322

I hope you have the opportunity to explore this amazing trail. Don’t rush–You’ll want to stop often to enjoy the scenery that makes hiking the Granite Dells a unique experience.


It’s hikin’ time in Prescott, AZ.

IMG_0786Almost any time of year is a great time for hiking in Prescott. But springtime is especially nice. The temperature is in the sixties, the sky is a bright blue with puffs of white clouds, and signs of new growth are visible everywhere.

A trail I would recommend to you is the Granite Gardens. I call it 1.2 miles of awesome! To reach the trailhead, drive north on highway 89 through the Granite Dells to Granite Gardens Drive. It is across from Granite Gate Senior Living. From the parking area, walk east and use the bridge to cross Granite Creek. The beginning of the trail will be on your left as you walk up the road and goes sharply up. As you reach the crest of the hill and go over the top, you will have an excellent view of a small dam. It was used to divert water into a pipeline that carried water to the Chino Valley Irrigation Project. Another dam farther downstream provided water for a freshwater swimming pool at the Dells Resort. My mother has many memories of that pool. I think I might have gone there with my aunt and uncle as a child, but I don’t really remember it. The pool was closed in 1971.

IMG_0285Continuing along the trail, you will come to a stairway. Reaching the top, you will enter the majestic granite portion of the hike. Following the white dots across the rocks, you climb over and down the granite face.




IMG_0320From there the trail leads to Castle Rock. Views are spectacular in every direction as you continue along this loop of the trail.

On the next part of the trail, we became a little lost, but were glad we did. Otherwise, we would have missed the room built into the rock. The metal door said, “IMG_0302Do not come in,” but who could resist?

As the trail continued, we climbed up the side of what is called the Rock Stacker. It didn’t really take a great deal of imagination to figure out why it was called that.

From there, the trail led to an underground grotto. Giant boulders were wedged tightly into a crevice. The trail took us under the boulders, any one of which could have easily crushed us to death, had they not been so firmly in place. For part of the trail we had to squeeze between some rocks.  It was a daring adventure that no one should miss.

IMG_0334After wiggling our way out at the other end, we were treated to more spectacular views of the granite rocks as we climbed back down. From there, we walked across a meadow and back to the creek. We left our little refuge and returned to civilization, still amazed at all that we had seen on the short but incredible hike.

I love hiking in Prescott, Arizona.

IMG_0311 As a native Arizonan, I’ve done plenty of hiking. I’ve been to the top of Picacho Peak and Piestewa Peak. I’ve been to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and Havasupai Canyon. But there is no better place to hike than Prescott. With over 80 miles of hiking trails and more being added, I could never run out of places to hike. Except for July and August,  Prescott has the perfect hiking weather. Even in the summer, the monsoon rains can cool things off enough for an early morning hike.

My husband Craig and I were introduced to hiking in 2008, when the Highland Center started the hiking spree. We picked up a flyer and decided to try it. When we finished the hiking spree, we just kept on hiking–all through the winter and the spring. We’ve done the hiking spree every year since and continue to hike year round.

The hike pictured above is the Watson Dam/ Flume Trail in the spectacular Granite Dells. It’s amazing the wonders contained in only one and a half miles of trail. The hike begins with a narrow passage through huge granite boulders. It follows a ledge above a dry creek bed before suddenly plunging down into a small valley. Private property abuts both sides of the trail and homes can be seen through the trees.  Reaching the loop portion of the trail, we usually go to the right, up into the rocks. Here the trail crosses solid granite. It is marked by blotches of white paint. Following the markings sometimes requires walking like a mountain goat up the slanted rock face. Vegetation is sparse consisting only of a few scrawny trees that dare to germinate in the crushed granite within the cracks of the rocks. Continuing over the top the trail goes steeply down where everything suddenly changes.

Now the landscape is lush with greenery. The narrow moss-covered flume is bordered by tall reeds. We follow the flume to the right and cross a narrow metal foot bridge. The roar of a waterfall can be heard. As we continue on, the back side of Watson Dam comes into view.  A huge spray of water is gushing from the dam. The water pools below the dam among the flat granite walkways. Gigantic granite formations, at least three stories high surround the area.

We explore the many pools, watching dragonflies skitter across the water. Then we return to the flume and continue along the trail to the left as it climbs up a steep cliff above the flume. Wooden bridges provide passage across deep narrow gorges. Continuing on we see Granite Creek below us. The water babbles as it rolls over rocks in its path. Both sides of the creek are lined with trees.

As the creek bends to the east, we travel west until we reach the end of the loop. Back across the meadow, we climb up along the dry  creek bed. Soon we are squeezing through the rock entry leaving  behind the magical world it hides.