West Spruce extension is complete, connecting several trails throughout the mountains southwest of Prescott

By Amanda Lane, Owner of The Hike Shack

Last summer, I wrote about a trail extension in the works for the West Spruce Trail #264. It has finally connected to several other trails, making exploring the mountains southwest of town easier.

The old West Spruce Trail terminated near the Thumb Butte Loop Road cattle guard. Now, thanks to the completion of the extension, the 264 trail crosses the road and heads east.

The trail is mellow with little to no incline or decline as it wraps around the hillside, exposing more amazing views to the north. The trail winds around the hillsides for about a mile until you run into an intersection where hikers have four options from which to choose. The Sierra Pieta overlook is a mile to the south. Potts Creek is 1.5 miles in the other direction; old Forest Road 9401J will take you to the circle trail intersection on 327, and now you can go straight across and head another 2 miles towards Copper Basin Road and Forest Road 9402D, which will take you to the Mt. Francis Trails.

I participated in some of the progress of these new trails, and it was fun to see them all come together. There is minimal parking on Thumb Butte Road, where the trail crosses over. Still, on the Copper Basin side, the trail starts just behind a large, dispersed camping site area on the right side of the road, and there is even more space on the left side of Copper Basin, where the old forest service road FR9402D is located.

The trail on the Copper Basin side still needs to be marked, but it is just a short drive past Springs Camp Rd. It was easy to find the trail on the hill just beyond the camping spots; it wraps around them before it heads up the mountain and west. There were still polka dot trail markers in the trees and pink flags marking the trail that had recently been worked on. This side of the trail has a little more climbing and goes around some of the boulder piles just up from the Willow Springs Camp.

No services are on either side of the extension, so please pack it in and out. And remember your water, too. The shade of the Gamble Oaks and the elevation of this trail will make it a great summer adventure!

Stop by The Hike Shack at 104 N. Montezuma Street in Prescott, call 928.443.8565, or visit www.thehikeshack.com.