By Amanda Lane

Updated, improved gem of a park features a playground, plenty of trails, and a not-to-miss hilltop view

Acker Park is a lovely 80-acre park located in the middle of town (with access at the end of Virginia Street off Gurley Street, or at 421 S. Virginia Street in Prescott). Acker Park and the Barrie Mayes Memorial trail system have recently undergone lots of updates, including improvements to the fun trail system, mosaic art walls, and a great informative plant guide.

There are roughly 2.4 miles of trail in this little nook of open space, which is more than double what was once here. During a recent visit to the park with my niece and nephew, we discovered a small play area, drinking water for human and canine visitors, as well as bathrooms. The trails are open to bikers and hikers, and offer several loops to choose from. One not-to-miss attribute: the view from the hilltop.

The trail system provides plenty of shade, picnic benches under the trees for snack breaks, and benches placed all along the trail to stop and take in the amazing views. The best part of the trail system is the amount of information on the plants there, as well as the inspirational quotes found along the Ridge Trail. Plus, there were over a dozen Blue Jay nesting boxes.

At the end of the hike, I asked the kids which part of the hike they liked the best and what they learned. They said they loved reading the quotes and the plant facts, and now, every time we pass an Alligator Juniper, they tell me whether it’s a boy or a girl. It turns out they have one of each in their own back yard.

They also enjoyed the hilltop metal peak display, which is designed to teach visitors the names of the mountaintops to the west of Prescott.

This was a great little afternoon adventure. It would be a nice place to take the kids after school to talk about their day, get a little exercise, and maybe find some inspiration. The park has an information bulletin board to the left at the entrance on Washington that has plant guide hand out, trail maps, as well as information about upcoming events in park.

The Friends of J.S. Acker Park adopted this space, and they have been instrumental in providing the funds to maintain and improve the park.

For more information about local hiking trails and gear visit The Hike Shack at 104 N. Montezuma Street, Prescott, AZ 86301 or call (298) 443-8565.