Almosta Trail and the Lost Shoe Trail provide a whole new view of Granite Mountain
By Amanda Lane, Owner, The Hike Shack | Courtesy Photos
If you are looking for a new adventure and haven’t done any exploring on the northwestern side of Granite Mountain, I have a loop for you. Fourteen miles out of Williamson Valley Road is the Almosta Ranch subdivision. Just a half-mile down Almosta Ranch Road, you’ll find a large parking area for the beginning of your exploration. Almosta Trail begins here and heads towards the western side of Granite Mountain. I took Almosta Trail to Lost Shoe and then Stringfeild back to Almosta to make about an eight-mile trek. Almosta Trail leads you through the end of the housing development and into the vast country full of pines, juniper, cactus, scrub oaks, manzanita, and even cottonwoods once you hit Mint Wash and Jerome Canyon.
Roughly a half-mile down the trail, you cross the first stream at the bottom of the canyon, and the homes almost completely disappear. The short section of the trail to the bottom of the canyon is rocky and steep. The tributary stream you follow down the canyon runs right into Mint Wash. The cottonwoods seem to appear out of nowhere. When I was there, they had just started to turn green with life. I cannot wait to go back this summer and see it again once they are in full effect.
You will have to cross over Mint Wash at the bottom of the canyon. (Note: Do not attempt to cross if the water looks unsafe to cross. A rescue out here would not be easy to accomplish, and it is just not worth it.) Once you make it across the wash, the canyon opens up into a pretty little flat with some old ranching corrals. There were a few cows in this pasture – a good reminder of how important it is to close the gates. The trail comes to an intersection here. I stayed left on Almosta Trail for 1.5 miles to Lost Shoe. Lost Shoe takes you around the back side of the hill you just climbed and meets up with Stringfield in another 1.25 miles. From here, to make the loop back, you will travel northeast down Stringfield back toward Almosta Trail, which is another mile away. You will find yourself back at the first intersection. From here, take Almosta Trail the two miles back to the parking lot.
I haven’t had many opportunities to view Granite Mountain from this angle; it looks like a completely different mountain. There are several ruins in this area so tread lightly when venturing off the trail. In some areas, you must stay on the trail. The hike took me several hours to complete and the trail was exposed in many sections. Take extra water on this one, and if you are looking for a shorter adventure just take Almosta Trail to the lower pasture and sit next to Mint Wash under the trees and enjoy. I know sometimes it feels like we just do not have the time … but remember to take time for yourself. I only planned two hours for this adventure, and I took four, instead. It was just the attitude adjustment I needed.
Stop by The Hike Shack at 104 N. Montezuma Street in Prescott or call 928.443.8565 or visit www.thehikeshack.com.