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Monday, October 27, 2014

SOUTH THUMB BUTTE TRAILS


SOUTH THUMB BUTTE TRAILS
Prescott
Thumb Butte Bypass Trail follows Miller Creek

Soaring to 6514', the sky dominating profile of Thumb Butte is Prescott’s most iconic natural landmark. Its convenient location in the middle of a park just west of downtown's historic Whiskey Row attracts scores of visitors, many of whom use the main Trail #33 as their first exposure to Prescott area hiking. Although it's a good choice for novice hikers or those unfamiliar with the area's terrain, a slew of connecting routes add length and difficulty to satisfy the predilections of most trekkers.
The heaviest traveled of the seven routes in the park's south end, Trail #33 is engineered with climb-calming switchbacks, safety rails and rest stops that make short work of the 2.1-mile loop around the granite formation.  When hiking clockwise from the trailhead, the path is paved up to the loop's highpoint on a saddle below vertical rock slabs forming the butte's summit. Here, a spur trail that's closed from February 1st to July 15th each year to protect peregrine falcon nesting sites, leads to optional rock scrambling routes.  The trail turns to dirt for the return leg, passing a makeshift memorial to the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who perished in the 2013 Yarnell Hill wildfire.    Maps available at the trailhead show the lay of the land and numerous ways to explore deeper into Prescott National Forest including easy connectivity with the Prescott Circle Trail that makes a 50-mile circuit around the city.
Thumb Butte

LENGTH: 8.3 miles total for 7 trails
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION:  5705’ – 6314’ (Trail #33)
HOURS: seasonal 7 a.m. to 5, 7 or 8 p.m.
FEE: $5 day use fee (exact change required)

GETTING THERE:
From the courthouse in downtown Prescott (Gurley St. and Montezuma), travel 3.4 miles west on Gurley Street (turns into Thumb Butte Road) to the Thumb Butte Recreation Area.
INFO & MAPS: Prescott National Forest