Wednesday, April 23, 2014


The event popularly known as the "Seven Summits of Phoenix" is back for 2014.
Holbert Trail at South Mountain Park
 This year's challenge is scheduled for Saturday, November 14, 2014.
Registration for the Seven, Five or Four Summit hikes as well as all-access non-competitive events will open on Saturday, August 2, 2014. Also, you can sign up for sponsorships or to volunteer by clicking the link below.  See you on the top!

Registration begins August 2:

Monday, April 21, 2014


AZT near Sandy's Canyon

During the month of May, Arizona Trail thru-hiker Sirena Dufault will be trekking north over the Mogollon Rim and through Flagstaff on her way to the Utah border. She'll be stopping along the way for meet-and-greet events and day hikes with supporters. Here's just a sampling of upcoming AZT Trek events for you to connect with outdoor enthusiasts, learn about the trail and speak with Sirena to understand how this program will benefit the 817-mile Arizona National Scenic Trail. Sirena’s objective is to raise $20,000 for the maintenance, promotion and protection of the AZT. So far, the fundraising effort is at 25% of goal. All events are free, however, donations are appreciated, and if you cannot get to an event, you can donate online by clicking the link below. If you're reading this blog, you must be a hiker---so, please step up and help support Arizona's premier trail. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014:  Llama Dayhike from the Pine Trailhead

Thursday, May 15, 2014: Sandy’s Canyon to Flagstaff

Saturday, May 17, 2014: Schultz Pass Road to Snowbowl Road


Sunday, April 20, 2014


Black Canyon City

A sign at the park entry urges visitors to close the gate to “keep the cows out”. Here, in a valley between I17 and the Bradshaw Mountains, there may well be marauding bovines, however, Black Canyon Heritage Park is all about sheep, fish and preservation of a rare streamside ecosystem.
Spawned by a generous donation of land, community activism and the help of numerous grants including one from the National Park Service Rivers Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, this 25-acre park opened in November 2012.  Thus far, 23.5 acres of riparian desert along the Agua Fria River have been restored with constructed streams, lush vegetation and ponds stocked with native fish. Two barrier free loop trails wander among cattail coves, willow-cottonwood forests and a pine-shaded picnic area with interpretive signs detailing the area’s sheep herding heritage. Located just over a mile north of a major trailhead for the Black Canyon National Recreational Trail, this pretty little place makes for an interesting side trip or post hike lunch spot.

LENGTH: 0.8 mile
RATING: easy, barrier free
ELEVATION: 1915’ – 1945’
FEES: none, however donations can be made online
Red-winged blackbird
GETTING THERE: 33955 S. Old Black Canyon Highway, Black Canyon City.
From Phoenix, go north on I17 to exit 242 for Rock Springs/Black Canyon City. Go west (left) to Old Black Canyon Hwy. (Frontage road), turn right (toward BCC) and continue 1.2 miles to the park on the right just north of Schoolhouse Road.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Midgley Bridge trailhead temporarily closed

Midgley Bridge spans Oak Creek

If you're planning a hike on Sedona's Wilson Canyon/South Wilson Mountain trails in the next couple of weeks, you won't be able to use the "Midgley Bridgely" trailhead on AZ89A near milepost 376.  That's because it's being temporarily closed for improvements that will include (finally) an accessible toilet. (Yup, I can hear you cheering). A fenced enclosure will prohibit public access during construction.  North Wilson trail can still be accessed at the Encinoso picnic area farther up the road near milepost 379.
For more information, contact the Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, at 928-203-2900.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fisher Fire closes some Flagstaff trails

UPDATE: April 14 9:00 a.m.: Fire is 75% contained and mop up operations are beginning. The forest service will not be issuing further updates, so you may need to call the ranger for closure info.
Hikers---please avoid the trails around Flagstaff's Fisher Point (Sandy's Canyon, Fay Canyon, Skunk Canyon The Pit, Arizona Trail) until further notice
Fisher Point
NEWS RELEASE                 
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
U.S. Forest Service
Coconino National Forest <>                                <> <>

For Immediate Release
April 13, 2014
Public Affairs Contact:
Heather Noel, (Acting) Public Affairs Officer, 928-527-3490

Fisher Fire – 8:00 a.m. update

Flagstaff, Ariz. – The Fisher Fire, reported at 3:00 p.m. on April 11th, is located near Fisher Point in Walnut Canyon approx. five miles southeast of Flagstaff in the vicinity of the Fisher Fire from last year.

The fire remains at 175 acres and is 50% contained.  Today, crews will grid and mop up as topography and fuel conditions allow.  Terrain is steep with rolling rocks and snags.  No growth was reported on the fire and all lines held.  No structures are threatened.

Today, temperatures today could reach 71 degrees with winds becoming westerly and increasing in strength with possible 45 mph gusts this afternoon; the relative humidity is forecast between 10-15%.   The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for today in effect from noon to 8:00 p.m. MST due to strong winds and a low relative humidity.

The public should remain aware of area closures around the vicinity of the fire which include some of the trail system.  Reducing the risk to firefighters and the public is our first priority in every fire management activity.

Local, state, tribal, and Federal agencies support one another with wildfire response, including engagement in collaborative planning and the decision-making processes that take into account all lands and recognize the interdependence and statutory responsibilities among jurisdictions.

DATE OF DETECTION:  April 11, 2014
CAUSE:  Confirmed human-caused, specific cause undetermined; investigation ongoing.
CURRENT SIZE:  175 acres
LOCATION:  Fisher Point area, Flagstaff
AGENCY:  USDA Forest Service
RESOURCES:  7 Hotshot Crews, 3 Type Two Crews, 2 dozers, 5 water tenders, 1 lead plane, 1 Air Attack, 1Type 1 and 1 Type 3 helicopter, 10 engines, and numerous fire personnel.





Heather M. Noel
Public Affairs Officer (Acting)
U.S. Forest Service, Coconino National Forest
1824 S. Thompson St., Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Office (928) 527-3490  Cell (406) 370-7370 <>


Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

Willow Springs Canyon

Popular with hikers, bikers and anglers alike, the trails around Willow Springs Lake provide both access to the water and miles of pine-shaded solitude on the Mogollon Rim. For many outdoor enthusiasts, a trip around 7.6-mile Bike Loop #534 serves as an inaugural exposure to the area.  This trek begins on that trail, but then drops into the canyon behind the dam at the north end of the lake. From the Horse Trap trailhead, hike 0.2 mile to the first signed junction, head right and continue to a fork.  Here, the bike trail veers right while an old road heads left toward the lake.  We went left and   hiked to the dam on the fisherman trails along the water's edge, however, the bike trail will get you there as well in about the same distance. Once at the dam, make an easy scramble down into Willow Springs Canyon and trek north following the creek.  The way is clear and easy for 1.5 miles, winding through alpine meadows and protected wildlife habitat.  Be sure to keep an eye out for the osprey nests teetering on the tops of dead pines.  The canyon narrows gradually, transforming the hike from a sunny stroll to a bushwhack through a quagmire of deadfall and boulder-choked channels. Determined hikers who are prepared for a challenging journey can continue upstream to where the stream meets Chevelon Canyon 3.5-miles north of the dam. Otherwise, for an easy trek, just turn back when the going gets messy.
Easy hiking for about 1.5 miles

LENGTH: 7.6 miles (easy) 10.70 miles (to Chevelon Canyon)
RATING: easy or difficult
ELEVATION: 7635’ – 7300’ (7040’)
From the AZ87/260 junction in Payson, go 31 miles east on AZ260 to the Horse Trap trailhead on the right between mileposts 284 and 285.

Entering the quagmire

Nesting osprey
INFO: Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

Friday, April 4, 2014

Field Trip app in the news

Screen shot of a hike

Okay, so I'm gonna brag a little bit here.  Unbeknownst to me the Google app "Field Trip" that features my Arizona Hiking content was on national TV this morning. The Today show tech guy Willie Geist demonstrated the product calling it his "favorite app" and also "a life-changer".  View the clip below and download the FREE app by clicking on the icon on my home page.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead to Colossal Cave Mountain Park

Cienega Creek is a reliable water source

Also known as the "three bridges" section, Passage 8 of state-traversing Arizona Trail winds through a swath of desert south of Tucson.  Although it's one of the shortest and easiest of the 43 passages that comprise the 817-mile trail, this 14.8-mile trek is special because it's home to the first stands of saguaro cactuses encountered when hiking the trail from south-to-north. The hike begins at the Gabe Zimmerman trailhead with a contemplative stroll around memorials to the victims of the January 2011 Tucson shooting that wounded Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. From here, the route descends into Davidson Canyon and the fringes of Cienega Creek Natural Preserve where perennial waters and shady cottonwoods make for a popular camping and water stocking spot. (Note: if you want to leave the trail and explore around the creek, permits are required. See link below.) Beyond the creek, the trail roams under and around three railroad trestle bridges then heads north into Colossal Cave Mountain Park.  The privately operated park offers camping, water and tours of subterranean limestone caverns and is a good turnaround point for a day hike. The passage continues on to Hope Camp at the border of Saguaro National Park where you can continue north to Utah or hike three miles west to the nearest car shuttle location at the Loma Alta trailhead.

One of the "three bridges"

LENGTH: 4.7 miles to Colossal Cave
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 3098' - 3650'

Arizona Trail heading into the Rincon Mountains
Gabe Zimmerman trailhead

GETTING THERE: Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead:
From Phoenix, go south on I10, take exit 281 in Tucson, go 3 miles southeast, then north on the frontage road (Marsh Station Road) to the trailhead on the right.

INFO & MAPS: Arizona Trail Association
Colossal Cave Mountain Park: 520-647-7275


Monday, March 31, 2014

Where's Sirena? Part 2

Hikers join Sirena on AZT Passage 8
ARIZONA TRAIL TREK: March 14-May 31, 2014
Sirena greets hikers at an event in Vail on March 29th

During the month of April, Arizona Trail thru-hiker Sirena Dufault will be trekking north through the Santa Catalina Mountains and into the Superstition Wilderness to raise awareness and funds to maintain and promote the state-traversing Arizona Trail. She'll be stopping along the way for meet-and-greet events and day hikes with supporters. Here's just a sampling of upcoming AZT Trek events for you to connect with outdoor enthusiasts, learn about the trail and speak with Sirena to understand how this 817-mile trek will benefit the Arizona National Scenic Trail.

KEARNY: Fri. April 11: fun and, food and  fundraising at Union Hall:

SUPERIOR: Wed. April 16: Picketpost trailhead day hike.  Registation required, sign up here:

SCOTTSDALE: Sat. Apr. 26: more fun, food and fundraising at Juan Jaime's Tacos & Tequila

Teaching moment on Arizona Trail Passage 8 

Visit the Indiegogo page today and make a pledge of support for the Arizona Trail:

Trail reports from Sirena:

FOLLOW on Twitter:

Thursday, March 27, 2014


McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Granite boulders on Jane Rau Trail

Thank you, Jane Rau. We are all enjoying the results of your passion for land conservation.  As one of the original mavericks behind the McDowell Sonoran Land Conservancy, Ms. Rau's steady determination to preserve the pristine Sonoran Desert around Scottsdale spans decades and continues to this day. Shepherding this ambitious dream into reality was no walk in the park, but Jane and battalions of volunteers like her, persevered so that we hikers can, well, take a walk in the park. A barrier-free tribute trail to this tenacious mover-and-shaker loops through a delightful wash area in the Brown's Ranch parcel of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Wide, flat and adorned with interpretive signs and Palo Verde shaded benches, the trail was dedicated on March 22, 2014 making it the Valley's newest destination for effortless walks with strollers, wheelchairs, antsy kids and hiking enthusiasts of all ages and ability levels.

Abundant blooming plants on the trail

Interpretive signs embellish the trail 

LENGTH: 0.5-mile loop
RATING: easy, barrier free
ELEVATION: 2710' - 2747'
HOURS: dawn to dusk daily
RULES: no bikes or horses, leashed dogs are allowed
Brown's Ranch Trailhead: 30301 N. Alma School Pkwy, Scottsdale.
From Loop 101 in Scottsdale, take the Pima/Princess exit 36. Go 6.5 miles north on Pima to Dynamite, turn right and continue 2.7 miles to Alma School.  Turn left and go 1 mile to the trailhead. There’s restrooms, water and maps at the trailhead.  There are no fees, but voluntary donations can be made online:
INFO & MAPS: McDowell Sonoran Conservancy
City of Scottsdale:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


 Final Wag & Walk dog adoption hike of the season is April 5, 2014
Volunteers with Wag & Walk dogs

The heat is on and that means the dogs of Maricopa County Animal Care & Control's Mesa shelter have one more opportunity to impress you with their cuteness, leash manners and walking skills on Usery Mountain Park's Merkle Trail for the final adoption hike of the season. Participants are encourged to "test drive" the adoptable dogs and see how well they get along with other canines on this family-friendly trek. This is a special opportunity for those looking to adopt because the dogs are often more relaxed and exhibit their true pup personalities outside of the shelter environment. All Wag & Walk dogs are spayed or neutered, vaccinated and ready to go home on the spot! So, come on out with a spare leash and an open heart for one (or more) of these deserving canine companions. Hikes will resume in November.

LENGTH: 1-mile loop (Merkle Trail)
RATING: easy, barrier-free
FEE: $6 park entry fee per vehicle
FACILITIES: picnic tables, restrooms, water,
3939 N. Usery Pass Rd., Mesa AZ 85207
From Phoenx, travel east on US60 to the Ellsworth Road exit.  Go north on Ellsworth to the park entrance.
DATE/TIME: Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 9 a.m. at the Merkle trailhead (area 6 parking).
INFO: Maricopa County Parks & Recreation, 480-984-0032

Monday, March 24, 2014


Wildflower high season at McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Brown's Mountain Trail

Standing on the summit of Brown's Mountain, a heart-pumping realization of just how close the desert preserve lapping at its base came to being washed away in a tidal surge of golf properties strikes the senses.   The suburban sprawl tsunami was averted through the persistence and hard work of the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, hundreds of volunteers and the City of Scottsdale, leaving us with an unspoiled parcel of Sonoran Desert to enjoy in perpetuity.  So, you better darn well get out there and hike! If the spectacular scenery and easy-to-navigate trails are not enough  motivation for you, the months of March and April bring wildflower high season. Even in drier years like 2013-14, strawberry hedgehog cactus, chia, lupines, poppies, buckwheat, chicory, scorpion weed, globemallow and rock gilia add splashes of vivid color to the subtle earth tones of the desert floor.
Mexican gold poppies

The familiar flat-topped silhouette of Brown's Mountain anchors the western end of the parcel. One option to get to the high point is to hike Brown's Ranch Road to Brown's Mountain Trail and take the summit spur trail to the top.
Although this path is narrow, rocky and steep, the climb's ROI is a birds-eye view of the entire trail system and surrounding mountain ranges.  Descend and continue on Brown's Mountain Trail to Upper Ranch Trail and follow its flower-fringed course back to the trailhead.

Brown's Mountain Summit Spur
LENGTH: 4.3 miles
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION:  2710' - 3253'
HOURS: sunrise to sunset daily

Brown's Ranch Trailhead: 30301 N. Alma School Pkwy, Scottsdale.
From Loop 101 in Scottsdale, take the Pima/Princess exit 36. Go 6.5 miles north on Pima to Dynamite, turn right and continue 2.7 miles to Alma School.  Turn left and go 1 mile to the trailhead. There’s restrooms, water and maps at the trailhead.  No fees.
Brown's Mountain
INFO & MAPS: McDowell Sonoran Conservancy
City of Scottsdale:

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Adobe Jack Trail

Since its completion in 2012, this cluster of new trails near downtown Sedona has become quite the hot spot for urban treks. But don't be put off by its proximity to shopping and restaurants---there's quality hiking here.   Seven fresh cut trails-- Crusty, Grand Central, Coyote, Powerline Plunge, Javelina, Ant Hill Loop and Adobe Jack, add seven miles of exploratory routes that blend with the existing Soldier Pass-Thunder Mountain systems. Packed with gasp-worthy Red Rock Country views, these interlaced paths were designed for long-term sustainability and easy access to Sedona's complex geology and high desert flora.  The connectivity of these routes is a wonder---you can plan long day hikes and backpacking trips by linking with Brins Mesa trails to get to the Boynton Canyon and upper Oak Creek Canyon areas. Or, if a casual walk in tennies followed by post-trek noshing and retail therapy is your idea of an excellent adventure, then, this trailhead is your ideal launch pad.
Crusty Trail

LENGTH: 7 miles of new trails
RATING: easy-moderate
ELEVATION: 4250’-4410’

Plenty of shade on Grand Central Trail

From the SR179/89A roundabout in Sedona, go 0.8 mile west (left, toward Cottonwood) on 89A to the trailhead on the right.
FEE: A Red Rock Pass is required
INFO: Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-203-2900

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Where's Sirena?

Sirena Dufault is in the Tucson area this week

From March 14 to May 31, 2014, Sirena Dufault will hike the entire 817-mile Arizona Trail  beginning at the Mexico/USA border. She's doing this to promote and raise funds to support the Arizona Trail Association---the nonprofit organization responsible for building, maintaining and protecting the trail.  During the last days in March, Sirena will be treking  through the beautiful mountains and grasslands of the Patagonia-Tucson area.  Here's a sample of events and hikes YOU can participate in:

MARCH 20: Patagonia, Plaza de Patagonia, 5-8 PM
MARCH 21: Hike with Sirena, Walker Basin to Kentucky Camp
registration required:
MARCH 23: Hike with Sirena, Kentucky Camp to Oak Tree Canyon
registration required:
MARCH 28: Tucson, Sky Bar, 7-10pm
MARCH 29:  Hike with Sirena, Gabe Zimmerman TH to Colossal Cave
registration required:

Sunday, March 16, 2014


Cottonwoods line one of the six ponds

Dedicated on September 27, 2013, this lush effluent management area located halfway between Sedona and Cottonwood is a prime destination for wildlife viewing hikes. Six ponds filled with cleaned and disinfected wastewater are landscaped with native plants to attract myriad waterfowl, songbirds and thirsty critters. A mile long trail circles the 27-acre site, which features several viewing beaches and cattail-choked coves. The Northern Arizona Audubon Society conducts frequent bird watching field trips to this spot, but if you’re visiting solo, you’ll see the most species if you go early or late in the day, move slowly and look for movement at the water’s edge.
Photo opportunities abound

LENGTH: 1.1-mile perimeter trails
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 3773' - 3978'
HOURS: dawn -dusk daily
FACILITIES: shaded picnic tables, restrooms
DOGS: are allowed but must be on leash, kept out of the water and picked up after.
GETTING THERE: 19655 SR89A, Sedona.
From the SR179/89A roundabout in Sedona, go 8 miles west (left, toward Cottonwood) on 89A to the Wastewater Treatment Plant near milepost 366.  Turn right, then make an immediate left
Fowl flotilla
and continue 0.3 mile to the trailhead.

INFO: City of Sedona, Dept. of Parks & Recreation:
Northern Arizona Audubon Society:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Epic, interactive ARIZONA TRAIL TREK kicks off this Friday

Love YOUR Arizona National Scenic Trail by supporting Arizona Trail Trek 2014

Sirena Dufault hikes the Arizona Trail. Photo courtesy Sirena Dufault

Ever dreamed about what it would be like to hike the entire 800-mile Arizona Trail from Mexico to Utah? Here's your chance to see how it's done and sample the thrills with an expert. From March 14 to May 31, 2014, Sirena Dufault will hike the whole route beginning at the Mexico/USA border. She's doing this to promote and raise funds to support the Arizona Trail Association---the nonprofit organization responsible for building, maintaining and protecting the trail. During the trek, there will be many opportunities for YOU to join Sirena for hikes, backpacking trips and party events in communities near the trail.  Events will feature food, entertainment and items for sale including logo merchandise and copies of the brand new book, Your Complete Guide to the Arizona National Scenic Trail. As a tasty extra incentive, Arizona Trail Ale, brewed by That Brewery in Pine, Arizona will be served at the gatherings. One event to try: Tucson area party, camping and day hike from Gabe Zimmerman trailhead to Colossal Cave Park on Saturday, March 29. You must register in advance at:

Sirena will be using social media to share on-trail experiences and post updates.  Follow her via an online satellite tracking system on the Arizona Trail Facebook page or Twitter @AZTRAIL#AZTtrek
So whether your Arizona Trail bucket list includes a thru-hike of your own or simply vicarious thrills, come on out, sample the trail and get to know and love our state's most epic trek.


Sunday, March 9, 2014



View from the Anaconda Trail

Blending old favorites with a couple of newly adopted trails, this circuit in the Cockscomb cluster of routes in Sedona is a low-traffic gem.  Located near several of Red Rock Country’s most popular hikes (Boynton Canyon, Bear Mountain, Fay Canyon) these trails offer refreshing serenity under fragrant cover of high desert scrub woodlands. The trek begins on the old Arizona Cypress trail with a traipse through thickets of sage-colored juniper, the eponymous shaggy-barked evergreens and elegant white-trunk sycamores along Dry Creek. A trailhead map shows numerous ways to create loop hikes in the area. I selected the new Snake and Anaconda trails using Girdner trail for the return leg. Anaconda, with its zigzagging mix of easy dips and climbs was an especially enjoyable route with many scenic views and a sprinkling of wildflowers to boot. Choose this trek if you’re looking peace and quiet.

Cockscomb rock formation

LENGTH: 4.2-mile loop
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 4400’ – 4678’

Trailhead map

From the AZ179/89A roundabout in Sedona, go 3.2 miles west on 89A to Dry Creek Road. Turn right (north) and continue 2.7 miles to an unmarked dirt road (FR9589) on the left.  This is roughly 0.1 mile before the Long Canyon Road junction.  Go 0.2 mile on this narrow but sedan-friendly road to a large parking circle. Trail access is just before the circle and at the “closed area” sign at the south end of the lot.
INFO: Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino National Forest, 928-203-2900
FEE: a Red Rock Pass is required. $5 daily fee.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Crack down on illegal parking and stopping at Camelback Mountain trailhead

Camelback Mountain, Phoenix
Hike South Mountain trails instead

Just like the old adage ---"stuff expands or contracts to fill the space allocated for it"---the newly upgraded Echo Canyon trailhead parking lot at Camelback Mountain is once again bursting at the seams. Even with double the parking, traffic congestion continues to be a problem.  The extra spots fill up quickly and hikers have been ignoring posted regulations and illegally stopping and/or parking along McDonald Drive to wait for an open space. Well, according to a press release issued today, the party is over, folks. You can now expect to be towed and/or ticketed because the City of Phoenix in conjunction with the Town of Paradise Valley is stepping up enforcement effective immediately. Remember, if the parking lot is full, you must leave the area and return later---no idling or parking along the street. Additional suggestions to avoid traffic backups are available on the Echo Canyon/Camelback Mountain webpage at:
As a side note, I avoid this trail.  It's too crowded, has zero wilderness appeal and adds to my stress levels. Nope---city trails in the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve and South Mountain Park deliver a much nicer hiking experience. 

Monday, March 3, 2014


City of Globe

Bull's Eye Loop Trail

In Arizona, where the sun shines almost every day, we really love our public recreational lands.  Nearly every town with a population over 50 has developed its own trail system. Even places like Globe--which boasts close access to Tonto National Forest and the Arizona Trail--have invested in the Grand Canyon State's obsession with the great outdoors.  The 6.7-mile,  six trail system of Round Mountain Park offers pleasant, family-friendly alternatives to the more remote and difficult (think: Sixshooter Canyon and Picketpost Mountain) routes in the "Copper
Pinal Mountains viewed from the Boulder Canyon Trail
Corridor" mining district. Originally designed by the University of Arizona Landscape Architecture program in the 1990s, the 386-acre site has been continually upgraded and expanded by the city, local businesses and volunteers. The well-signed trails wander among boulder-strewn canyons, shallow caves and fascinating geology including a curious hole in a wall of stone known as Bull's Eye Rock. An elaborate seating area at the park's highest point provides 360-degree vistas of the Pinal Mountains and the area's ore pits.
A full complement of amenities including restrooms, water, shaded picnic spots and benches placed at scenic stops along the trails make for a relaxing day of hiking.    
Bull's Eye Rock

LENGTH: 6.7 miles total
RATING: easy - moderate
ELEVATION: 3560' - 4201'

Mountain views on the West Trail

From the US60/AZ188 junction in Globe, continue 4.8 miles on US60 to South Street (Round Mountain Park Road).  Turn left and go 0.5 mile to the park. South Street is easy to miss--it's near the Quality Inn/Express Stop about a quarter mile before the US70 junction.


Saturday, March 1, 2014


Prescott Mile-High Trail System
Bridges over Granite Creek
So many wonderful works of nature are tucked within Prescott's Granite Dells area. And, thanks to the city's Mile-High Trail System, there's no shortage of ways to get to the good stuff. The Watson Dam-Flume Canyon cluster of trails stands out because of its diverse terrain. A network of loopy trails wander through riparian woodlands along Granite Creek and soaring slick rock crests overlooking Watson Lake. Map signs posted at every turn make navigation easy. A particularly beautiful segment makes a footbridge assisted traverse of a precipitous gorge that forges the way to the base of Watson Dam.  Here, cattail reeds and gangling willows living in shallow pools and running currents huddle in a lush, shady cove fortified by vertical granite.
Late winter on the Flume Trail

LENGTH: 2.4 miles total
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 5057' - 5642'
From Phoenix, travel north on I17 to the SR69 interchange at Cordes Junction.  Go 30 miles west on SR69 to Prescott Lakes Parkway, turn right and continue 2.1 miles to SR89. Turn right and follow SR89 1.7 miles to Granite Dells Road, turn right and go 0.2 mile to the trailhead
Watson Dam
on the right. No fees at this trailhead

INFO & MAP: City of Prescott

Monday, February 24, 2014


Prescott Mile-High Trail System
Granite Creek

If this new system of four trails were a dog, it would be a Jack Russell Terrier---compact, feisty and righteously entertaining. So, before taking a pass on it due to its short length, consider its attributes. The bite hike begins on the Stairway Loop with an ascent up 38 steps constructed in 2013 that lands hikers on an overlook above Granite Creek.  At the top of the stairs, views of Prescott's Granite Dells area are breathtaking. Here, an overview of what lays ahead nips at your heels. Next up: an exposed meander over slick rock guided by white dots painted on slabs of granite that resemble splayed reptile hide. The route winds up around Castle Rock then descends to meet the Rock Stacker and Grotto Trails. Both aptly named, these two paths combine for a terrier-grade, energetic swoop through a wilderness of stone with steep climbs, narrow passages and a rib-tickling squeeze through the claustrophobic darkness of the "grotto".  Like a speeding carnival ride, this trek is over too quickly, but will have you yelling, "let's do it again".
View of Stairway Loop from Rock Stacker Trail. Note the hikers, left center.

LENGTH: 1.15 miles total
RATING: moderate-difficult
ELEVATION: 5050' - 5150'
From Phoenix, travel north on I17 to the SR69 interchange at Cordes Junction.  Go 30 miles west on SR69 to Prescott Lakes Parkway, turn right and continue 2.1 miles to SR89. Turn right and follow SR89 2.2 miles to Granite Garden Drive (unsigned) located directly across from Granite Gate Senior Living Community between mileposts 317 and 318. Turn right onto this rough dirt road and go 0.2 mile to the trailhead on the right just before the creek. Those with low clearance vehicles may park in the turnoffs before the road gets too rough.

Entering the Grotto

INFO: City of Prescott