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.