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Easy hike in the pines
I heard from another hiker that the Prescott area was developing a new trail system west of the Granite Mountain/Granite Basin area. It is near a summer camp called Emmanuel Pines, so some people call it the Emmanuel Pines trail system. I ran into another man on the trail who said he knew the guy who was developing the system, and he wanted it named after a geographic feature rather than the camp, hence Spence Basin. I'm attaching a map of the trail system. It's being developed for mountain biking and hiking, and I met some of each out on the trail.
The morning was cool and fresh after the monsoon rains, and the scent of the Alligator Juniper, Ponderosa Pine, Pinon Pine, and scrub oak was wonderful. This is typical vegetation for the Prescott area at this elevation. This is a high chaparral desert, so these trees don't grow very tall, maybe twenty feet. The trails are well marked, and except for a couple of major trails that are part of the Prescott Circle Trail system (e.g., Javalina Trail #332), they are named rather than numbered, with cutesy names like Happy Ending, Tunnel, Water Meter, Noodle, and Vista. I chose a relatively short 4-mile loop for our bi-weekly hiker's group to check out the area. There are longer loops and longer through-hikes in the area as well. The terrain is rolling, with no major elevation changes.
I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the area. Several seasonal creeks are run through the area, dry even after the recent monsoons. The area looked like it would be teeming with deer, but we didn't see anything due to our group's size. The area is popular with mountain bikers, so you can expect to meet them on the trail.
All in all, the Spence Basin area will be a great addition to the other Prescott-area trails, something on the lighter side for a more casual hiker. Try it, and you will enjoy it.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.