For years I have avoided Granite Mountain. Looks pretty every day I see it, just on the other side of Prescott. Clearly lots of folks go there, some tell me at work what a great week-end they had camping and hiking in the area. Without a doubt a very popular spot for those who live here in the local area around Prescott, as well as, those visiting from else where. So I never ventured forth to check it out on my own. What a mistake!
Super Bowl Sunday, chores were done, I was getting fidgety, so I asked my youngest boy, Chris, if he wanted to go hiking. Off we went after a quick packing of our gear, quick look at a area from my loose leaf notebook full of write-ups from the Prescott National Forest to pick a hike, and down the road we went for our impromptu hike.
The trailhead was packed! And small to boot. But I managed to manuver my jeep into a small slice between vehicles with my front end slightly under a tree. Chris and I wasted no time throwing our gear on and hitting the trail. Easy to find and starting its journey up hill, it is clear as day a very popular trail. Signs of boot prints, bike tire prints, and occasional horse prints fill the trail as it meanders through brush with scattered pines, juniper and boulders.
I let Chris lead the way so he could set the pace and surprisingly it was a brisk one. He is on the junior high basketball team and when I told him of the benefits of hiking as a way of getting in shape, I think he took it seriously and me to task. So I just gave him his lead.
The trail levels a bit once on top, the trees a bit thicker mingling among some large rocks. Interestingly, I noted very little signs of the bark beatle, which was pleasant to see. Here and there were small patches of snow under shade, protected from the direct sunlight, reminding us of the small storm which recently pass. Another sad winter, the ninth I believe, with very little snowfall. But, at a gate we were taking a breather and when I looked to my right through the trees I witnessed an awesome sight. The snow cap San Francisco Peaks majestic in the clear air and the red rock country of Sedona! Beautiful.
Pass the gate the trail begins a downward trek. A short distance we come up on Clark Springs Trail #40, which would hook to the right and head on down to Granite Basin Lake. Nearby, three young men with trail maintenance implements laying by their sides were kicking back taking a break and enjoying the day. We said howdy and continue our trek downward, which got a little steeper and opened up into brush and boulder country, affording us a fantastic view to the north. I spotted Hyde Mountain and Juniper Mesa about 25 miles away as the crow flies.
We worked our way down and passed a couple of young ladies struggling back up. Neither had any gear, nor water, so I offered them a bottle water. They declined and continued to trudge on, youth at its finest, and Chris and I continued our travels down the trail.
The trail levels off for the rest of our hike. It was then I began to notice charred, burned skeletons of trees cast forth throughout the countryside from the Doce fire of 1990. A man-made caused fire, it had burned over 300 acres. And believe it or not! Enjoying the view and not paying attention to the trail I walked into a prickly pear overlapping the trail! I pulled back quickly but to no avail, a couple of spines found its mark in my skin. A minor annoyance Chris and I kept on walking until we stopped at the end of the hike and I could pull the stickers, two of 'em, out with tweezers.
At the Upper Pasture Trail #38, we stopped, kicked back, and took our break before turning around and heading back to the trailhead. Now, the confession, before the hike I did not study the write-up throughly, I just knew it stated the trail was 3.3 miles in lentgh and it hit another trail. I thought we hit the end of the trail! The pace was right, the timing was right. However, after reviewing the trail signs during the hike and write-up after the hike neither seems to match when it comes to mileage.
But I will say this, the area holds promise and I will return. Granted we ran into several folks and dogs, young and old, but I will return.