Area HikesLearn more about local hikes; brought to you by The Hike Shack
I recently had a conversation with Jason Williams, Prescott National Forest (PNF) Trails and Wilderness Manager, about what is happening with the trails out at West Spruce.
He told me the latest project is a new trail that will connect to the West Spruce Trail, which currently ends or begins on Forest Road (FR) 373 just before the cattle guard. I jumped in the truck and went to see how much they have accomplished.
To find this new trail, head past Thumb Butte about 1.8 miles, then turn left onto FR 373. Continue another 3.2 miles on the dirt road to a small parking area on the right, just before the cattle guard. This new trail takes off to the east and offers spectacular views as it twists and turns over two miles to Copper Basin Road.
This section of trail will be slightly narrower and more difficult than the Circle Trail.
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.
When Prescott residents Cal Seabaugh and Kelly Williams say they’ve seen Arizona, they mean it: the duo spent 45 days this past fall hiking the entire Arizona National Scenic Trail—all its 800 miles and 110,000 feet of elevation gain.
Stretching the length of the state, from Utah to the Mexican border, the trail, also known as the Arizona Trail, showcases Arizona’s diverse landscape. And, Kelly, said, “It’s all spectacular.”
Just before the two-mile mark, look for the trailhead sign on the left. Headwaters Trail is 3.27 miles of single track that will take you back to the Peavine. It is a very flowy trail that winds though the grass and it is a great place to get some miles in. Eventually the trail curves back toward the new subdivision. The trail continues through the area on a dirt single track in a wash. The fences for homes keep them silent and almost hidden. Follow the well-marked signs and stay on the dirt single track until you arrive back at the Peavine. Now you are about a mile from the parking area. This approximately seven-mile round trip is kind of a long journey, but because it doesn’t involve climbing any mountains, it is easy to accomplish.
On a beautiful Sunday morning, I found myself struggling to leave my warm comfy bed and cup of coffee. Some days it is just hard to keep your chin up. I finally convinced myself not to waste the day and go for a hike to clear my head. I found myself heading to the Ranch Trailhead parking area just down Walker Road about a ¼ mile. I heard it had recently received some much-needed love.
When I was a kid I loved the choose your own adventure books. I would read them over and over until I had chosen every option possible. Spence Springs is a lot like those books. You can pick a starting point and create countless adventures.
One adventure I have enjoyed most recently is Vista, Noodle, Sidekick, Tatanka, Tunnel Vision, to the BLM. Spence Springs is now very well marked and at every turn there is not only a trail map but even a QR code so you can download the map and track yourself with your phone. Service in this area is quite good so even if you do manage to lose yourself it will not be hard to find you.
The original Peavine Trail in Prescott is always a drier option, but it’s a little crowded these days. I heard Chino Valley had a new section of the Peavine rail trail ready to explore so I headed north on Highway 89. The trail materials on some of these old railroad beds make the trails a much less muddy option, and this is no exception: the Chino Valley section of the Peavine provided an almost completely secluded and mud-less hike just 10 minutes from Prescott.
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.