Nearby peaks, rock formations are just a trail away

2011-06-26T00:00:00Z 2014-09-12T13:43:19Z Nearby peaks, rock formations are just a trail awayDoug Kreutz Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 26, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Part of the appeal of Prescott is the beauty of the surrounding terrain - and several trails will take you into the heart of the scenic splendor.

Some paths meander into shady pine forests.

Others lead hikers to craggy cliffs, tranquil lakes and vista-rich summits.

Check out hiking guidebooks and a website for the Prescott National Forest - www.fs.fed.us/r3/prescott - to learn about trails ranging from short, flat and easy to long, steep and challenging.

Today, to get you started, we'll describe two trails that serve up pleasing scenery in exchange for moderate effort.

THUMB BUTTE LOOP

This popular two-mile loop trail climbs to a ridge just below the top of Thumb Butte - a landmark giving a stony thumbs-up salute west of downtown Prescott.

Climbing from a trailhead at 5,700 feet to a high point of 6,300 feet, the route takes hikers to a vista point with views of the Prescott area and distant peaks.

Go: From downtown Prescott, drive west on Gurley Street, which becomes Thumb Butte Road, about three miles to the Thumb Butte Picnic Area. The trailhead, where you'll pay a $2 fee, is across the road from a parking area.

PEAVINE TRAIL

A mostly flat trail that follows a former railroad bed, the Prescott Peavine Trail extends a little more than five miles. It takes hikers, cyclists and equestrians past Watson Lake northeast of Prescott.

Travelers on the trail also get great views of the Granite Dells - steep, shapely rock formations that pose vertical challenges for rock climbers.

Go: Take Arizona 89 northeast of Prescott to Prescott Lakes Parkway. Turn east onto the parkway, travel about 0.3 of a mile and turn left onto a short connecting road leading to the trailhead ($2 fee).

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at dkreutz@azstarnet.com or at 573-4192.

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