Area HikesLearn more about local hikes; brought to you by The Hike Shack
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.
The Highlands Center for Natural History has always been a source of outdoor education for everyone. It was created to help visitors become wise caretakers of the land, and to that end, it offers many educational opportunities—including two beautiful and unique trails accessible from The Center’s Kiwanis Amphitheater.
If you’re thinking of spending a night or more out in the wild, I have some suggestions for you. I highly recommend, especially if you are planning to take your kids, that you start in your own backyard. Once you have your tent, your sleeping bag, and pad, set them up and spend the night close to home. This simple “trial” can be a fun adventure and can teach you a lot in one quick night. When I look at backpacking from a beginner’s standpoint, it can be an overwhelming experience.
While I spent a lot of my childhood camping with my family in the Camp Wood area, I have never explored the Apache Creek Wilderness area. So, with the increased trail traffic around town these days, I decided this would be a perfect opportunity.
The Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial Hike has been on my to-do list for some time now. I finally checked it off recently, and highly recommend taking a day to make the trip down the hill to enjoy this amazing journey.