Woods and views
This hike is a pleasant loop hike of 6.7 miles, half in shaded forest and half in open scrub with great views to the west. The hike utilizes the Clark Spring Trail #40, Little Granite Mountain Trail #37 and Granite Mountain Trail #261 trails in the Granite Basin Recreation Area to circumnavigate Little Granite Mountain in Prescott. The latter two trails have been described on Hike Arizona, but not the Clark Springs Trail.
Clark Spring Trail #40 now has more switchbacks, adds 0.3 mi to the loop.
We began this hike at the Metate Trailhead in the Granite Basin Recreation Area. Begin on the Granite Mountain Trail #261 across the street from the parking area by the trailhead driveway (N34 36.936 W112 33.078). Follow this for 0.2 miles to the junction with the Balancing Rock Trail #349 (N34 37.048 W112 33.094). Turn left here and follow for 0.15 miles to the intersection with the Clark Springs Trail (#40) (N34 36.964 W112 33.201). Turn right here. The trail begins on a dirt road but quickly turns left off the road at N34 36.974 W112 33.217.
The trail begins a steady climb of 850 feet with few switchbacks to the saddle between Little Granite Mountain and Two Rock Mountain. This is through shaded forest with mature pine and oak trees. The trail passes Clark Spring at about 1.2 miles from the beginning of trail #40, but we missed it on our hike as we weren't looking for it. The Clark Springs Trail ends at its intersection with the Little Granite Mountain Trail (#37) (N34 36.028 W112 34.472). You pass through a gate at this intersection. Turn right on the Little Granite Mountain trail (#37) and climb the last 100 feet to the highest point on the hike. Beginning here and for the next mile there are great views to the west. Over this distance you are going downhill, a pleasant break from the uphill on the prior trail. We found this trail somewhat eroded as there appears to have been heavy rains in the area prior to our hike (Sep '09). This area was mostly scrub.
At 1.6 miles on trail #37 you reach the junction with Upper Pasture Trail #38 (N34 36.984 W112 34.920) to the left and White Rock Spring Trail #39 to the right. Go right towards White Rock Spring Trail #39. Approximately 2.8 miles from the Clark Spring Trail #40 there is heavy wooden gate. Go through the gate and turn right on the Granite Mountain Trail #261 to return to the trailhead. Its about 1.7 miles back to your car from here through shaded forest with only minor ups and downs. When you reach the intersection with trail #349, you retrace your steps from the beginning of the hike to return to the trailhead.
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.