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Monday, May 18, 2015


Chris Hosking uses a mini track hoe to work the trail

If you want to build an excellent hiking trail-- just follow the deer. So says Joe Baynes, Recreation Services Director for the City of Prescott. Baynes, along with the city's Trails and Natural Parklands Coordinator Chris Hosking and battalions of volunteers including the eclectic mix of workers known as the Over the Hill Gang have just completed an epic project that began on the heels of the herds and ended with a community unifying, 54-mile loop trail around the city. May 14, 2015 marked the "golden spike" moment for the
Prescott Circle Trail (PCT) which began as a concept of the Yavapai Trails Association back in the early 1990s and has developed gradually by linking existing national forest trails, roads and new construction. After more than two decades of planning, negotiating with land management agencies and countless hours of sweaty toil, the final gap below Badger "P" Mountain was bridged and will be ready for non-motorized use by the end of June. On a recent preview hike, Baynes and Hosking pointed out key considerations in the trail building process. As wildlife has a knack for finding efficient passages through rough terrain, about 80% of the PCT follows these established trackways. After performing archeological and environment impact studies, the route design was driven by the needs of trail users. The path must be wide enough for horses, scenic and varied for hikers while incorporating line-of-sight considerations to make for safe mountain biking. The trail purposefully integrates long switchbacks, climb-mitigating flat sections, distinctive landforms, vista lookouts and impressive vegetation specimens as part of the master plan to achieve an average 8% grade and maximum visual appeal. Multiple trailheads and connectivity with camp grounds and local business will make hiking the trail convenient for everybody.
Once the design was set, brush crews moved in to flag and clear vegetation. Next, a mini dozer plowed the basic course followed by a mini track hoe that cut the slope. Hand crews will then rake, shape, trim, construct drainages and install signage. Finally, the boots, tires and hooves of the nearly one million visitors that step out on City of Prescott trails each year will perform the finishing pack down. Although the PCT is officially complete, it will continue to evolve. Regular maintenance, rerouting, adding adjacent loops and establishing new trailheads will keep volunteers busy enhancing the trail's symbiotic relationship with open spaces and the surrounding communities.
New segment of trail beneath Badger "P" Mountain

LENGTH: 54.45 miles
ELEVATION: 5140' - 6690' (5,500' cumulative elevation gain)
City of Prescott
Yavapai Trails Association

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