Area HikesLearn more about local hikes; brought to you by The Hike Shack
Watson Woods is a riparian preserve that has been called the rarest, and one of the largest streamside riparian habitats in North America.
I recently took my niece on a quick day trip to this area, and it provided us with just the piece of heaven we were in search of. With a limited amount of time before the temperatures soared over 90 degrees, we took an early morning journey to Watson Woods, 126 acres shaded by majestic cottonwood trees and lush vegetation along our very own Granite Greek.
I was lucky enough recently to have the opportunity to journey through a small section with a few amazing friends. We began at the New Hance Trailhead just a few miles past Moran Point on the South Rim of the canyon. This trail is a steep, six-and-a-half-mile descent to Hance Rapid on the Colorado River, through the many layers of geologic features, all of which have their own beauty. We soaked our tired feet in the cold waters of the river and spent one night sleeping next to the roaring rapids.
The Granite Dells have so much to offer. Every time I travel out that way, I see something new. Even though the area is primarily rock, it changes a surprising amount, season to season.
One of my favorite adventures out that way—with something for just about everyone—is the Flume Canyon. The trails out there are rocky and best suited for hikers with sturdy shoes. By following the white dots on the well-marked system, you can choose the length and distance of your hike through this incredible landscape.
The trail is just longer than four miles and makes a loop. It is abundant with wildlife, epic views, solitude, and more treasures if you look closely. You’ll enjoy some good elevation gain as the trail takes you to the ridgeline, where the view makes you want to take your time as you travel, taking in the majestic mountains.
If you need a place to breathe in the middle of town, I have found your destination.
I have passed the trail signs on Schemmer Drive a thousand times, but never visited the Rodeo Trails. While searching for a place to have lunch on a recent stressful day, those signs suddenly popped into my head … and the Rodeo Trail system was just what I needed: I found my solitude in a boulder pile right in town.
The first revelation is that Goldwater Lake was named after Morris Goldwater. Second: there are two lakes, and they’re called Goldwater Lakes. The upper lake, which most people know as Goldwater, is actually a few years older than the upper. The lower Goldwater dam was built in the 1930s, just a few years before the upper dam.
The five-mile Hoot Owl begins on your left, just after the cattle guard down the 7 Mile Gulch Trail. It parallels Walker Road and takes you on a shaded journey through the Manzanita, Ponderosas and Junipers. I ran into a herd of deer and I have heard of both mountain lion and black bear sightings in the area.
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).
The Red Rocks of Sedona offer such an amazing contrast of color. From the blue sky to the red in the rock and the vibrant colors of the Manzanita, abundant variety of cactus, and Junipers; it’s like stepping into a new world when you venture out that way. It is hard not to stop and lose yourself in a gaze at the horizon at every turn.
Mount Union is the highest peak in the Prescott National Forest reaching nearly 8,000 feet, and the Dandrea Trail runs North and South over it—with a quick detour on the Yankee Doodle Trail allowing hikers to summit the peak.
Mt. Francis, a peak in the Bradshaw Mountains just southwest of Prescott, has a pile of radio and cell towers on its peak, and pinion pines, manzanita, gamble and scrub oaks, groves of old-growth junipers, and a grove of quaking aspens on one slope. It also has several trails—with great foliage and even better views—on the southern slopes, including the Moby (Trail 737).
Often referred to as the Spruce Loop, Trail #307 is actually named the Groom Creek Loop and is probably one of Prescott’s best and most famous trails. It’s one of my personal favorites, and every time I hike it, I fall in love with it even more. The Groom Creek Loop is great adventure for the slightly more advanced hiker, but well worth the extra effort.