Grapevine Canyon is a Prescott National Forest Botanical Protected Area. It lies on the eastern flank of lava capped Big Bug Mesa on the edge of the Bradshaw Mountains. This mostly pleasant out-n-back hike takes you up to Grapevine Springs. On this trip there was still some light snow cover on the south canyon slopes. The creek was flowing at maybe one gallon per second. Which is just enough to keep things interesting.
Unlike the barren drive in through the rolling hills this is grade "A" creek/forest/mountain country. It's a good mixed forest with several pine species. The creek flow was intermittent for the first few minutes, apparently going underground. After the first bend it resurfaced and was flowing for the entire length of the hike.
The lower canyon has a few patches of uncommonly large stands of Alders. A few small cascades keep the creek gurgling throughout the hike. I noted several animal tracks through the snow/mud and to my delight not one human foot print. Around 1.1 miles in the trail abruptly leaves the peaceful creek setting to bona fide Arizona blood sucking chaparral. Actually the trail is well cut but even in February you feel the sun pounding down. After a short steep climb the trail levels out and soon enters an oak forest.
Soon you pass through a research experimental plot. Here you are asked to respect the area and not disturb anything. (I guess outside the fenced area, it's fair game to raise hell.) Past the research plot the trail crosses the creek to the left, then high banks it over to the springs. The ground is very soft in places, especially around the multiple springs lining the left slope. Try and stay on the hand-laid-rock trail.
The topographical map plots several springs in the area. On location it looks like the side of the mountain is gently dispersing water from a large swath.
The trail continues(apparently connects to FR103A). I'd seen enough and headed back. I'm unsure if the springs flow year 'round. There are remnants of an at least 4 inch diameter pipe that must have funneled water 30-40 years ago. Most pipes I've seen in other parts of Arizona are in the 1 inch diameter category.
Forest Prescott National Forest Pass
Only trailheads with six "amenities" have fees. Amenities are picnic tables, trash, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.
To hike From I-17 take SR69 towards Prescott. Turn left onto Grapevine Rd 3.15 miles past Central Avenue of the town of Mayor. Grapevine Road is marked but it's a tiny street sign. There's no indication when turning left. Grapevine turns into FS87A follow it to a green gate, then about a half mile beyond until the road peters out. The hike starts when you can't drive anymore.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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