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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Prescott slickrock hiking

City of Prescott

Thank goodness for guys like Jerry.  He's one of the volunteers with the City of Prescott's parks & recreation department that help maintain the “white dot” trails in the granite dells-area parks.  Without those spray-painted little directional beacons, it would be impossible to stay on course. We ran into Jerry in the middle of his weekly trail inspection and he was kind enough to share some history and interesting facts  about the surrounding landscape  and also coached me through a slightly scary slickrock section---which was not as treacherous at it looked after all.
Hiking in Prescott's granite dells is like getting lost in a stone labyrinth hazed with an absorbing “one-with-the-rock” kind of feeling.  The network of paths on the north shore of Willow Lake coil through hulking quartz-studded granite buttes squeezing in-and-out on the paths in heaving accordian style. 
The rugged meandering loop trails move seamlessly from claustrophobically tight spaces to  airy exposed promintaries with unobstructed vistas. Don't be put off by the short hiking distance---the trails are a varied, complex mashup with high steps, cagey twists and surprises around every bend.

LENGTH: 3.3 miles (7 connected trails)
RATING: easy-moderate, sturdy shoes/boots with good traction required
ELEVATION:  5,080' – 5,180'
KID FRIENDLY: older kids
DOGS: must be on leash/pack out poo
FEE: $2 daily parking fee

From Phoenix, travel north on I17 to Cordes Junction  exit 262 for Prescott  AZ 69.  Turn west and follow AZ 69 32 miles 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  north (crossing AZ89) to Willow Lake Road.  Turn left (west) and go  to Willow Creek Road.  Turn right and continue to Heritage Park Road (Across from Embry-Riddle U and heading toward the zoo). Turn right and then make an immediate right onto Heritage Park Creek and follow the signs to the to the trailhead.
INFO & MAP: City of Prescott

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