Sierra Prieta escalator
Overview: The East Copper Trail #260 is located on the southern slopes of the Sierra Prieta, southwest of Prescott. This trail begins at Highway 89 and quickly ascends to the western shoulder of Mount Francis, near the summit of Copper Basin Road. In addition to the East Copper Trail, there is the option of connecting with the Aspen Creek Trail #48, and of climbing 7110 foot Mount Francis for an even better view of the greater Prescott area.
Hike: From milepost 300.7 on Highway 89, walk downhill on Forest Road 53 for a tenth of a mile to the bottom of Copper Creek. A large sign for East Copper Trail greets you here, next to some large ponderosa pines. Turn right (east) onto the East Copper Trail, which begins climbing steeply up the east slope of the canyon along a multiple-use trail bed (hiker/horse/ohv). One quarter of a mile in, at a small saddle, the pines give way to chaparral brush and occasional alligator junipers.
For the next couple of miles the East Copper Trail makes a steady (and at times steep) climb up a series of connecting ridges, passing a couple of old mine tunnels along the way. Be sure to turn around and enjoy the impressive view of the northern Bradshaw peaks and the rugged Hassayampa River country. A couple of potential wrong turns are averted with well placed "260" trail signs.
Two miles in and having gained some 1100 feet, East Copper leaves the ridges behind to head for the pine filled basin in the distance. Passing a signed junction with Aspen Creek Trail #48, the East Copper Trail drops into the forested bottom of what one might call "East Copper Canyon". The trail continues its now gentler ascent through gambel oak and ponderosa pine in a pleasant, high mountain valley. East Copper Spring itself is passed as the trail climbs out of the valley towards its high point in a saddle on the west side of Mount Francis. Shortly beyond the high point saddle, East Copper Trail comes to an end at a locked gate along the Mount Francis Road. Consider a half mile side hike to the top of Mount Francis. It's worth the view.
Water Sources: East Copper Spring may have water.
Camping: The East Copper Spring area is likely the best spot along the entire trail for backpacking opportunities.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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.