The Aspen Creek and Moby Loop Offer Beautiful Foliage and Amazing Views
By Amanda Lane, Owner, Hike Shack
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).
On a recent warm, fall day, my niece and I set out to find the Moby and see if we could make a loop using the East Copper Spring Trail (Trail 260) and Aspen Creek Trail (Trail 48) to connect it. Although this connection is not on the map, it was easy to find and made about a 5.5-mile loop.
We headed down the East Copper Spring/260 Trail and found our turn for the Moby/737 about a quarter mile down. The Moby Trail is a small single track that skirts the southern side of the mountain, but the Aspen Creek Trail/48 runs parallel to it lower down the mountain. The Moby trail forked another quarter mile down. The intersection is unmarked, but we decided to take a right to see if we could connect to the Aspen Creek Trail/48.
Sure enough, we could! The connector trail is well used and will probably end up marked by the forest service. We turned left and took our time moseying down the Aspen Creek Trail. The altitude and shade made for a nice cool hike on a warm fall day. The oaks where changing color, the views where magnificent, and the old Junipers were incredible!
During a good monsoon season the creeks here will probably flow in each bend. We followed the trail for more than two miles before we found ourselves at the intersection of the Wolverton Trail. From here, we stayed on the Aspen Creek Trail/48.
We went left and watched for our turn down the Moby/737. The trail is an old logging road and was easy to find. This road does fork several times before you get back on the single track. The trail was not easy to spot; watch for the two rock cairns on the right side of the road. The Moby Trail wrapped us back around the south side of the mountain exposing amazing view of the Bradshaws.
This was a moderately difficult loop and we both decided it was one worth slowing down for. There was a lot to see in either direction and if you are going too fast, you will surely miss all this trail has to offer.
How to get there: take Copper Basin Road up into the hills. You will find Mt. Francis Road and a large parking area on your left about 2.5 miles after the road turns to dirt. There are no facilities anywhere near this area and the road gets rough beyond this turn. Parking at the intersection is your best bet if you do not have a higher clearance vehicle.
Stop by The Hike Shack at 104 N. Montezuma Street in Prescott or call 928.443.8565 or visit www.thehikeshack.com.