Day two of our Prescott stay and we started this hike after a morning at the Heritage Park Zoo and a lunch at "Franks-a-lot" a gourmet hotdog eatery in Prescott Valley, another eating experience we have been trying to make time for. We both had the Reuben Dog and boy that would have been worth the drive up to Prescott Valley all by itself. I also gave in to my gluttonous side, something I do frequently and ordered the Slaw Dog with a side of slaw. I love my cabbage but I never completely think this predilection through. Luckily for Wendi, it didn't seem to have any effect on this hike.
We finally got to the Watershed Th at about 12:45. We talked to a guy just finishing the Watershed. He said it was a pretty good day of hiking, fell only twice! Once we were ready, we headed across the street to the 396 TH, something to do cautiously, crossing the Senator Hghwy here is on a blind curve and the cars are moving at a pretty good clip.
Once on the trail it is quickly apparent by the tire treads and lack of footprints that cyclists love this trail. Wendi, noticed a sign on the way out, reminding bikers to use caution and advised that there had been a few collisions on the trail. Today, being a weekday we may have gotten off easy. We saw maybe 10 or so cyclists, and just two other hikers.
The trail just barely gets started when it offers a side trail to the lake. We opted for this just get a peek. There were a few people fishing from the shore and two from a boat. I noticed a faint trail that looked like it might reconnect to the 396 and after a flight deteriorating earthen/timber stairs and a moderate ascent it did just that.
I can see why the cyclists like this trail. Even for hikers, with minimal trip hazards and moderated elevation changes this trail is a chance to unplug the mind, find your zen, and let your hiking feet get footloose. Given the late start we were going to have we were only planning on going 3 miles deep to Bannon Creek and then turning back, but we made such good time we decide to go for the whole thing. There are few more elevation changes but the whole hike is a breeze, especially in the shade of this beautiful forest.
I am not sure if it is just me but the earth's dirt in Prescott seems almost rock hard. Last summer I really did a number on my knee just a few miles from here, though I refused to take the bench last season, I probably should have. I thought I had healed up, but here in Prescott once again though it may have just been mental, I could feel it's effects on my knee. As long as I corrected my gait quickly enough it disappeared fast enough.
As stated in the description Bannon Creek is a beautiful little spot. The fact that the only two hikers we saw were the ones we met at Banning Creek played a small part in our deciding to do the whole hike, hoping that perhaps we would have the area to ourselves on the way back. The couple were locals and they expressed concern about the next days pending storm. We wished them the best through the storm. On the way back, we did indeed have the place to ourselves but we only took a few minutes to enjoy it.
All in all a really good capper to this small little vacation.