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Monday, September 10, 2018


Curious rock formations on the Easter Island Trail.
The best trails are those that respect the terrain through which they cut, following the land’s natural contours to unwind like humble spectators rather than intruders. The newest additions to the Prescott Mile-High Trail System do just that in a seemingly impenetrable labyrinth of stone.
The Boulder Creek Trail adds a splash of green.
Early in 2018, the City of Prescott purchased a 160-acre parcel east of Watson Lake to preserve the geologically-unique space while allowing for recreational use. Shortly after the land was acquired, work on the Storm Trails system got underway and the first routes officially opened on March 31, 2018.
Use the Peavine Trail to access the Storm Trails
Situated deep in the striking beauty of the Granite Dells, the loopy network spins off from the Prescott Peavine National Recreation Trail 1.5-miles north of the trailhead on Sundog Ranch Road.  
The Storm Trails explore Prescott's Granite Dells area.
The maze of short, interconnected paths meander among billion-year-old granite crags, secluded grasslands, washes and shady corridors of scrub oak. The first of several gateways to the system is located across from a vista point overlooking Watson Lake.  From here, the 0.67-mile Easter Island Trail wastes no time delivering the goods. The low-profile path dives right into a heart-of-rocks, artfully sidestepping obstacles on its way to a knoll above the lake with breathtaking views of Granite Mountain, Glassford Hill and a bizarre landscape of Precambrian stone pillars. Within the first half-mile, how the trail got its name becomes apparent. Perched atop a jumbled mound of weathered granite, two majestic monoliths that resemble the famous ancient sculptures found on Rapa Nui-- the volcanic Pacific reef also known as Easter Island—stand out above a basin of boulders. The nature-sculpted pair of human-esque forms---one with a bulging eye and the other wearing a mischievous smirk-- balance on a crest, silent and focused as if commanding an army of rock goblins.  Beyond the stony sentinels, the trail crosses Boulder Creek and evolves into an insanely entertaining web of stone-age-themed mini loops. 
Woolly Morning glories bloom near Watson Lake.
With names like Pebbles, Bam Bam, Dino Canyon and Bedrock City, the swooping footpaths that propel hikers through nooks, bends and narrow stone corridors are a perfect homage to their 1960s-era Flintstone’s cartoon namesakes. Immerse yourself in the playful theme and it’s almost like hiking in a page right out of history through the courtesy of Fred’s your two feet. (Props to the Hanna-Barbera jingle).
Follow the white paint dots to navigate slick rock sections.
Close up of the Easter Island sculptures look-alikes.
New Storm Trails are located east of Watson Lake.
There are no dull moments in this ticklish intersection of imposing natural wonders and amusing names.
A section smothered in high-desert vegetation.
Every turn reveals a fresh view or an interesting feature.  Even the stuff underfoot changes at the pace of a manic animated flick. 
The trails pass thru many stoney corridors. 
The mix of soft dirt single track, sandy washes and tricky slick rock passages where white paint dots guide the way make for a mildly challenging, ever tantalizing hike.  Even though the bizarre pillars and fractured joints of the Granite Dells are the main attractions, the system’s Boulder Creek Trail adds a splash of blue with a cottonwood-lined waterway, cascades and reflecting pools that soften the high-desert terrain. 
Secluded pockets of water add color to the high-desert trails.
The trails spin off the Peavine Trail 1.5 miles of the TH.
Scenic knoll with views of Watson Lake and Granite Mtn.
As satisfying as the Storm Trails are right now, they’re not finished yet. The planned 6-mile system is on track to be completed by the end of this year. Who knows; maybe Wilma and Fred will get trails too.
A grasshopper alights on a Sacred Datura flower.
LENGTH: 6 miles (not including the 1.5-mile one-way access hike on the Peavine Trail)
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION:  5150 – 5300 feet
1626 Sundog Ranch Road, Prescott.
From State Route 69 in Prescott, go 1.7 miles north on Prescott Lakes Parkway to Sundog Ranch Road, turn right and continue 0.2-mile to the Peavine Trail/Watson Woods Riparian Preserve parking area. There’s a $3 per vehicle daily parking fee.

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