Dont Forget to Hit the Cave
May 2016 Note: There is now an official designated trail. The following was written before the trail was complete.
On your way to Prescott, driving on Highway 69 through Prescott Valley, you pass a grassy hill with a car dealershp; a hotel and condos carved into the lower southwest flanks. The hill, just looks like a little hill, no prominence, just boring. On contrary, it is big and massive. During snow season, its south face melts quickly, its north face stays white, almost an exact line. The hill does not even look very high. On the contrary, its elevation gain is actually almost as high as Squaw Peak in Phoenix.
Glassford Hill (GH), elevation 6178' was once an active volcano between 10 and 14 million years ago. Today, it stands as an extinct volcano. GH separates Prescott & Prescott Valley and overlooks the width and breadth of Prescott Valley. Like the SF peaks...GH is a "ring" or horseshoe shaped, sitting on its side head facing west, tips facing east. Inside the hill is what we are calling the "nub" or inner peak (6104'). The north ridgeline outer ring starts from the east (5989' USGS summit) and curves SW to the GH summit; then loops around to the southeast onto its south ridgelne curving SE (6125' USGS summit).
Archeological evidence of early man goes back as far as 800 A.D. Ancient Indian villages were settled around Glassford Hill in 1400. The U.S. Cavalry established Fort Whipple 5 miles away. Colonel William A. Glassford traveled the area in the 1880s and helped build a system of 7 heliograph stations to monitor the movements of Apache Indians, U.S. military troops and civilians. GH was a part of that early communications system, using signal mirrors to communicate with other army units in the war against the Apaches.
FEB 2016: The Town of Prescott Valley is in process of carving out road like switchbacks to the saddle between the south ridgeline summit and the GH summit south ridgeline. It reminds me of the paved road to the summit of North Mountain in Phoenix. This area will soon be a city run "preserve" with roads and biking trails. The road terminates at the south ridgeline summit. We noted a series of survey flag stakes for the future "GH Trail". Researching current activity, I was only able to find a town council approval of the proposed development of making GH a city preserve park (August 2015). However, graders and back hoes were diligently working on the switchbacks so the Town is going full throttle on development for the future city "preserve" and trail.
Until then, as it is today, there is a smallish parking area in front of the bridge with a locked gate (to vehicles) but permissible for pedestrian access. This bridge is located west of the intersection of Antelope Lane and North Castle Drive in Prescott Valley, AZ. West of the bridge there is a road that is under construction.
THE HIKE: Follow this road about 0.53 miles to a fenced off water tank. For the non-off road or not off-trail hiker, you can take the road that is under construction which terminates on the summit of the south ridgeline). West past the fenced water tank, make a bee-line straight line towards the drainage. The ascent after the drainage is 0.94 miles from the TH. If you look up for a sole green tree thats your line up to the nub. Word from many locals is GH is a snake haven. The grassy topography is probably not an ideal hike for spring, summer or fall if your afraid of rattlesnakes. The inner climb is not much of a bushwhack, open and spacy chaparral and sturdy volcanic rock. Pass the lone green tree, bank slight left and onto a rock climb boulder hoppers playground. A HAZ guest register is situated on the nub summit.
Not quite there, from the nub, you continue west down then up to the GH summit. The official high point (6178') is on a rock pile with a "monument sign" posted on it, located within a fenced compound or cell/radio towers and lots of solar panels. There is no public access. West of the fenced compound offers some amazing views of Prescott, Willow Lake, Watson Lake, Granite Mountain, The Dells, and Thumb Butte. To the south: Sun Devil Peak, Walker, Spruce Mountain & Mount Union summit towers, and Mount Tritle.
OPTIONAL CAVE ROUTE:
If you look up due south 0.89 miles from TH, you can see the cave opening as you approach the nub ascent. Getting to the cave from the GH summit, loop around to the South ridgeline. There is a road leading to its summit that is under construction. The cave will be on the north side of the south ridgeline about 1/2 mile SE. Cave GPS: 34.58926, -112.37404 Cave elevation is 5917'
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.
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.