More trails to come with a little help from you, me, and all of our friends
By Amanda Lane, Owner, 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.
The trail was still marked with tiny pink flags that tell the trail workers where they are headed. I followed the flags down the freshly scraped dirt through the landscape. It reminded me that life is an adventure and there is so often a new path in front of you. I had no idea how far the trail would go or where it would lead. I only went about a mile before I found a pile of pink trail markers and learned that on that day, my destination was only the beginning of a trail that I would be coming back to very soon.
On my journey back to the truck I considered all the work that must go into creating a new trail. We are so lucky to have a tremendous number of trails in the basin area, with more planned. Right now, the PNF has 60 miles of trail and five new trailheads planned.
It is going to take some serious volunteer hours to get this trail finished. Jason mentioned that volunteer groups maintain 150 miles of trail every year. That is in addition to new trails and the City of Prescott trails. It takes a serious amount of time and effort to make these trails appear and keep them maintained.
This trail story has no end just yet, but rest assured it will. Trail works days happen several times each week. For more information about volunteering, email [email protected]. The Over the Hill Gang is working on this new trail Thursdays from 8 a.m. to noon. Prescott also has additional workdays several times a week. Call the parks and recreation department at 928.777.1122.
The Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance and Prescott Trail Riders as well as several other organizations in town also have trail workdays. Check your schedule, find a day that works for you, and bring a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, some eye protection, and some good shoes. The rest is usually supplied.
Just a quick note on the recent bear incident up on Spruce: Bears have always been up in that area and I have always felt lucky to have even seen them or other wild animals on my adventures. It is extremely rare that an incident occurs and results in an injury, much less a tragic death. It is a reminder, however, that wildlife is just that: Wild. We cannot predict what their reaction will be in any encounter. Be smart, be safe, and know what you can do to take precautions in case of an encounter. The worst thing you can do is sneak up on or startle wildlife. Remember they have great hearing, so making a little noise as you wander is a good way to let them know you are coming and give them time to move on. There are also bear bells, air horns, and bear spray you can carry in case of an encounter. Do not let the chance of an encounter discourage you from being outside because that is a tragedy as well. I currently live up on Spruce Mountain less than a half-mile from the event that took place in June. I still run, ride, and hike alone or with my dog the way I always have near my home. Statistically, I am more likely to be injured in my truck on the way into town; don’t let the fear of nature stop you from enjoying it.
Stop by The Hike Shack at 104 N. Montezuma Street in Prescott or call 928.443.8565 or visit www.thehikeshack.com.