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Monday, February 27, 2012

Prescott bird-watching hike

Ducks take flight in Watson Woods
Birds flock to pools along Granite Creek 
A sign at the trailhead proclaims that Watson Woods has been designated an “important bird habitat” by the Audubon society.  This is an understatement.  Once a 1000-acre-plus stream side bosque of cottonwood, walnut and other moisture-loving plants along lower Granite Creek, the area was nearly lost to the ravages of modern development.  However, thanks to the efforts of the City of Prescott and Prescott Creeks (local watershed stewards) the woodlands are being restored.  Today, the preserve is a 126-acre bird-and-wildlife haven.  Even though it's located just yards off busy highway 69, the lush waterway boasts a bevy of natural wonders for your viewing pleasure.  A scenic interpretive trail guides hikers among restored wetlands, canopies of gigantic centuries-old trees, ponds and marshes.  Signs both at the trailhead and along the route describe the sights and chronicle on-going restoration efforts.
In addition to a sturdy pair of shoes for the dirt walkways, bring along a pair of binoculars (birds galore) and a hearty appetite for knowledge---you won't be disappointed. Also, for those who want to extend their hike, the preserve trail connects with adjacent Watson Lake Park, Lower Granite Creek trail system and the Prescott Peavine National Recreational Trail.

LENGTH: 0.5 mile one way
RATING: easy, educational
DOGS: this is a sensitive riparian habitat, dogs MUST be on leash and all droppings packed out
HOURS: 7 A.M. - 10 P.M.
FEE: $2 parking fee
FACILITIES: port-o-potties (real restrooms planned for June 2012), picnic tables, maps
DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 112 miles one way
Red-winged blackbird 

1626 Sundog Ranch Road in Prescott. From Phoenix, travel north on I17 to Cordes Junction  exit 262 for Prescott  AZ 69.  Turn west and go 32 miles on AZ 69  to Prescott.  Just outside of downtown, pass Walker Road and begin looking for Prescott Lakes Parkway---located across from the Prescott Gateway Mall where there's a huge Cadillac dealership. Turn right (north) on Prescott Lakes Pkwy and continue 1.7 miles to Sundog Ranch Road, turn right and go 0.2 mile  to Peavine Trail/Watson Woods Riparian Preserve parking area. HIKE: Follow the paved Peavine entrance trail for about 100 meters, pass the picnic ramada and turn left once you reach the cindered potion of the trail. The Preserve walk-in gate and kiosk are west of the large walnut tree.
City of Prescott
Site is managed by: Prescott Creeks, 928-445-5669


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