Alto Pit and the Box Culvert Trail #620: two special places for adventure

By Amanda Lane, Owner, The Hike Shack

A few miles out Iron Springs Road lies Alto Pit, a special place just for those looking for a motorized playground.  ATV and dirt bike riders of all levels of expertise can find something to explore in the 400-acre area, which features twenty miles of trails in varying degrees of difficulty, as well as three open areas (including one just for kids).

Alto Pit is a fun area to bring the family to enjoy some close, easy access for your motorized adventure.  A fee area with ten campsites, picnic tables, restrooms, and a staging area where you can unload your toys, it’s located about five miles past Gail Gardner Road up Iron Springs Road. It’s open to off-road vehicles 50” wide or less, and is covered in loose decomposed granite, granite boulders, and tall pines and manzanitas. The area is slightly higher in elevation than town, which means it’s just a few degrees cooler, and it closes seasonally depending on the weather. While it can get busy on the weekends, during the week, you’re likely to have the place to yourself.

At the northern end of Alto Pit, you can access the Alto Coop Trail #619, which will lead you about a mile down the west side towards Contreras Road, where you will intersect with the Box Culvert Trail #620 (this trail is also accessible by vehicle from the Contreras Road Trailhead, a few more miles down Iron Springs Road and less than a mile down Contreras Road).  It has a very large parking area, and the trail is open to all hikers, bicyclists, motorcycles, OHV’s, and horseback riders.  There are no facilities.

Depending on your choice of travel, the Box Culvert Trail is moderately difficult. It leaves the east side of the parking area and is 3.7 miles that climb from the trailhead towards Alto Pit, but turns to the right when it intersects with the Alto Coop Trail. It is pretty exposed and winds through loose granite around boulders, twists and turns down towards Iron Springs Road, and goes under it. This tunnel is not always passable because of monsoon rains in the Doce fire area.

If the Box Culvert is passable, the trail then heads west and intersects with Doce Road on the southern side of Iron Springs.  From here you can travel back across Iron Springs and down the Contreras Road to the parking area or turn back and do the trail in reverse.  The trail is wider than most single track and that makes passing others a little easier.

As I was unloading my dirtbike at the trailhead, I encountered a family unloading strollers and a few kids. I stopped to ask them if they knew the trail was open to motorized travel. They responded that they did know, so I asked them how they felt about the traffic on the trail, and I loved the response.

The gentleman simply said, “We can hear you coming, and we try to get off the trail because we know it is a tough ride, and hard to come to a quick stop in some spots, but the kids love to watch you ride by.”

I thought that was such a great answer! I had not thought of that factor.

As someone who travels the trails in so many ways, I sometimes find it a little nerve-racking to ride trails on my dirt bike where I know I may have a surprise encounter with travelers of any form. Sometimes you can see out in front of you, and it’s easy to stop and let others pass by; sometimes we surprise each other on a corner. An uphill corner is the worst; we must have momentum to climb so coming to a complete stop can be difficult.

There are limitations as to where dirt bikes and OHVs can adventure, so I appreciated the fact that this young family was respectful of our adventure, while they were out on theirs.  The gentleman’s response made me ride with a smile, and I hoped I would see them on the trail so I could give the kids a wave as I passed by.

Stop by The Hike Shack at 104 N. Montezuma Street in Prescott or call 928.443.8565 or visit