register help
This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Granite Mountain Trail #261, AZ

1k 171 4
Guide 171 Triplogs  4 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Prescott > Prescott W
3.9 of 5 by 55
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 8.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,636 feet
Elevation Gain 1,513 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,721 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 16.86
Interest Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
12  2019-08-05
Little Granite Mountain Loop
9  2019-05-04 Nightstalker
6  2019-03-24 Daytripper
35  2018-09-17
Little Granite Mountain Loop
8  2018-05-12 Nightstalker
12  2018-04-14 whycoyote
2  2017-12-16 arizona_water
7  2017-11-11 Nightstalker
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 9
Author Sande J
author avatar Guides 3
Routes 0
Photos 23
Trips 13 map ( 70 miles )
Age 58 Female Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   May, Jun, Sep, Oct → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:14am - 6:34pm
Official Route
11 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Big Boulder Bash!
by Sande J

Likely In-Season!
Mileage reflects data collected via GPS. The description below is going by old FS stats.

If you enjoy a real rock concert, then this is a hike for you. As part of the Prescott National Forest, Granite Mountain Wilderness (appropriately named) is a picturesque area containing a little bit of everything that great Arizona hiking has to offer. The cooler temperatures and shady juniper forest make for a perfect combination of beating the heat. Heading out of Prescott on Iron Springs Rd, you will reach FR 374 at about the 3.5 mile mark, where you will make a right turn. This is a paved road for easy access to the Granite Basin day use area. After about 3 miles on FR 374, you will see an entrance area to the small lake on your right, then continue a short distance ahead for access at the Metate Trailhead. There is ample parking with plenty of shade, including a restroom, water and a self pay station for the fee. The trailhead is directly across the entrance drive to the parking lot, and it is clearly marked with a large information board. Take trail #261, Granite Mountain Trail ( not to be confused with the Little Granite Mountain Trail which is a loop connection you will see later ) and you will get the best direct hike to Vista Point Overlook which is 3.45 miles. Just follow the #261 signs all the way up and you will be fine.

The hike begins as a shady wonderland with immediate views of the vertical rock ledges of the Granite summit to your right. This wilderness is a protected area for the nesting of Peregrine Falcons which were almost extinct just a few years ago. This is a popular area for rock climbers and repellers, but I didn't see any the day I was there, as the protective order keeps the cliffs closed through July 15th out of respect for the falcons. Fine by me... that means no crowds on the trail! Shortly after the initial view you will come to the trail register, sign in ,and forge ahead. The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. The dirt is smooth and solid and graced with pine needles which makes the trek quite enjoyable.

Shortly after you exit the shady section, elevation begins in the form of well graded and gradually ascending switchbacks. It is nice seeing all types of desert vegetation living together in harmony. Large boulders serve as guardians to the picture perfect landscape scenery that only nature can create. I saw a few boulders that are bigger than some of the new tract homes in Phoenix. At the 1.6 mile mark, you will come to a wooden gate at Blair Saddle. Here trail # 261 intersects with the other connecting trails in the system. Here you will take a right turn to stay on #261. It is clearly marked by a sign. The switchbacks continue for close to a mile and the next major stop will be Granite Mountain Saddle. Here you can do one of two things, continue on the #261 to the Vista Point Overlook, or (not included in the distance above) take a quick jaunt down then up the trail to your left to get a great N/NE view of the Verde Valley , Sedona, and the San Francisco peaks. After you soak in the beauty of those views, backtrack to #261 and forge ahead .8 miles to the Vista Point which is on the S/SW side of the peak.

The trek on the way to the point offers more shady pines and some magnificent level rock slabs carpeting the ground. Coming from the valley in the summer, it is awesome, like someone turned the air conditioning on outside.

Once you reach the overlook, it will actually put you near the vertical ledges that you saw on the first part of the hike. The wind gusts pick up considerably towards the overlook , so proceed with caution if your climbing urges need to be fulfilled. One big gust could knock you off stance pretty easily if you are not paying attention. From this viewpoint, you can see the lake which looks like a puddle from 7,186 ft. There are lots of extremely large boulders, rocks and huge stone slabs in the area. It would be easy to spend an entire afternoon just climbing the rocks and exploring. For early June on a weekend , I was surprised to see only a few people on the trail. Have fun and enjoy the serenity and solitude at the top. You can return the way you came on #261. This hike is fairly challenging and the quest for the summit would be geared towards experienced hikers. As always, hike smart , be aware, and take plenty of water !

After the adventure, turn left out of the parking lot (it is one way) and you can drive around the loop road back down to the lake area for a little R & R or a picnic...sorry guys, but there is no swimming allowed! Enjoy this beautiful area ,especially the CLEAN AIR.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2001-06-28 Sande J
  • book
    area related
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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.

Most recent of 32 deeper Triplog Reviews
Granite Mountain Trail #261
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Splendid hike. I chose to do this in a CCW direction. It was a tad warm at the SW corner of the loop, a 500 foot ascent to a saddle before dropping down and returning to the trailhead. That ascent required a break on an otherwise easy and enjoyable hike. The trails are in excellent condition.

Since I can't seem to do the big hikes anymore, I'm staying in Prescott for two more days so I can get a couple more "little" hikes in. I also wanted some monsoon action; I have not been disappointed. We had a deluge of rain with a nice show of lightning.

Fun day.
Granite Mountain Trail #261
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Great hike with my lovely wife today. Unfortunately, the road was closed about 1.7 miles from the trailhead. I am going to guess this is due to the Govt shut down but really not sure as there were no signs. Regardless, we had a bit of a road hike before even starting the trail but it was still a beautiful section of forest and we really enjoyed the peace & quiet.
Granite Mountain Trail #261
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
This was a Three Bears hike. Not too hot, not too cold. Not too much up, not too much down. Not too windy, ... you get the picture. This beautiful Saturday in mid April and we only saw seven other people on the trail. Two weren't even going to the top, they were just headed to a crag near Lizard Head for some rock climbing.

There were a couple, and I mean just a couple.
Granite Mountain Trail #261
rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
Prescott for the weekend:
I was curious about Granite Lake (Reservoir) and we wanted to hike something that felt like a summit, but only had time for something under three hours. So we decided to go to the saddle on Granite Mountain.
This was my first time here, and it reminded me a little bit of the hualapai mountains and maybe some Mt. Lemmon.
The trail is in great condition, but I could see where precipitation could wash out certain sections. The burn area was pretty obvious. I'm sure the fire was a little scary for people who lived in the area.
Granite Mountain Trail #261
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
I led a group of five (counting me) on an out-and-back hike of Granite Mountain Trail #261 on Friday.

Parking at the Metate Trailhead required a $5 pass which can be purchased at the trailhead. I think that there are also options for annual passes, but have not investigated this option.

The trail is well maintained and easy to follow. I did get off track once due to leaving the trail in order to get some photos and then inadvertently resuming on another trail. When we returned to the main trail, we noticed that a number of rocks have been placed across the path leading to the errant trail. Had I not left the trail to take photos, I wouldn't have gotten off track.

The trail was occasionally wet at the lower elevations. We saw small mounds of melting snow in shady spots at the higher elevations.

My mileage and elevation are slightly more than that listed in the hike description due to wandering around on the rocks while the others ate lunch. I think that the distance and elevation provided in the description is accurate.

I tried and failed to make it to the actual summit - I probably still had another 30 feet or so to go. I didn't spend much time investigated the various options for getting to the top since the rest of my group didn't appear to have much interest in summitting. I did get to a point where I think I could have gotten to the top, but I wasn't confident of my ability to easily reverse the moves on the downclimb.

We saw some wildflowers, but they're not yet as abundant as what we're now seeing in the (greater Phoenix) valley.

Verbena (and others too... see photos.)
Granite Mountain Trail #261
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
The criteria for this weekend's hike was 1) it needed to be within 2 hours of Phoenix, 2) it had to be in a new area I haven't hiked before, 3) it had to be easy going. This hike fit the bill.

I left Phoenix around 9:30 am. Just outside of Anthem I was pulling my hair out when an accident had I-17 backed up for a few miles, delaying my arrival to the TH by about 30 minutes. Oh yeah, that's why I hate I-17...

Coming in to the TH off of 89A, I instantly knew which mountain on the horizon was the one. This is a pretty cool looking mountain!

I arrived at the TH around noon to 70 degree temps. :)

The first couple of miles of this trail is a gradual uphill walk to the saddle between Granite Mountain and Little Granite Mountain. There is still a lot of good looking flowers on this section of the hike, which was surprising for me, I thought the show would have been long over by now.

The views after the saddle as you actually climb Granite Mountain are stellar. It was a clear day so much of the surrounding area was visible. There was a couple of spots on the mountain where water was running or trickling.

At the end of the trail, I started the scramble to the top of the peak which quickly turned into something that was a little more vertical than I had bargained for. I'm not comfortable doing solo climbs which are beyond your basic rock scrambles, yet. I turned around, a little irritated that the top of the rocks was maybe 20 - 30 ft above me, but I'd rather have a partner to finish this one up. Maybe there is an easier route to the top that I missed?

I will definitely be back to finish that climb, and bag Granite Peak 7626.
Granite Mountain Trail #261
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Granite Mountain Circumference
Old man doc eagle and I set out in the rain on #308. The area got hit pretty good by waves of storms just prior to our arrival. This impromptu loop hike was not what I expected. Rice paper silhouettes of Granite Mountain captivated our attention. That serene sight through the rain was rudely interrupted by the music of nature echoing in the distance. Dry creeks flowing like rivers may be the best therapy on earth. The bickering and back n forth jokes gave way. Our pace went from pastel to deep contrast. "Hey check this out", then we raced to the next ravine.

The party was over by #671 when the sun started dissolving the clouds. Still a nice hike on trails I doubt many hikers experience. We found a semi shortcut near Shroder Tank but Bruce isn't a Ricky fan and complained about the missing c.

We turned the corner on #41 just before noon to bring the loop home. 20 minutes later we stopped for lunch. Bruce had a special Oreo sampler session arranged. We flavor profiled Mint Oreos vs Thin Mint Oreos. I taught him how we use our tongues to observe the oreo, but also, once you swallow the oreo, the mint aroma changes because you're receiving it retro-nasally.

The trail petered out at Red Hill Tank. After hopscotching through chaparral we found upper Tonto Wash traveled much easier. Bruce either had an adrenaline kick or oreo flash backs and was off to the races!

Granite Mountain was spectacular approaching Blair Saddle. I love the forest from the saddle down to Mint Wash. It was a first for me along Mint Wash Trail #345. This trail is a winner, especially after heavy morning rain storms! The upper NE third where it gets away from the creek is just okay but made for a nice loop.

substantial in areas
Granite Mountain Trail #261
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Granite Mountain Circumference
Needing to get a hike in after I was sidelined last week for the first time with an injury, Joe planned a Crown King hike as our destination. Mother Nature had other plans. We reached a place on the road to Crown King, just North of Bumble Bee, where we didn't feel safe crossing the flow across the Road. This is just south a bit where Castle Creek goes Under the Road. :next: ... QiMo.

We headed to Prescott

Using the power of the HAZ engine, we turned to Route Manager to develop a route to hike around Granite Mountain on the fly. It was completed and loaded into Route Scout on 2 mobile devices, before we arrived at the Williamson Valley Trailhead

We did a CCW loop of Granite Mountain, starting on the Tin Trough Springs Trail #308 in a light rain and 58 degree. Tin Trough Springs #308 was actually running strong in spots. This is a bit of a roller coaster trail with good views to Granite Mountain and Baby Granite Mountain.

Just past Baby Granite Mountain, you turn on to and old 2 track that's North Granite Mountain #671.

Next it's on Cedar Springs #41. This is two track to Red Hill Tank, after that we found no trail until we got close to Cedar Spring. The best bet here, is to just follow the wash. The travel is much easier. This trail does not get a lot of traffic, but was easy to follow from Cedar Spring to White Rock Spring Trail #39.

This trail is a steady climb to Blair Saddle and Granite Mountain #261. It's here we saw our first hikers and runners of the day.. Not having the time or the energy, we bypassed the climb and continued to Granite Basin Lake. It's a small but picturesque lake.

Mint Wash Trail #345 was our last Trail for the day. The rains had the wash running real well. This is a pretty trail to hit if you are in the area.

We made the best out of a Plan B and were able to hit some new trails.
Granite Mountain Trail #261
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
I hiked trail #261 by myself a few weeks ago to the lookout. This time Bruce came along and we decided to go for the peak. We used @John9L's route but skipped the lookout. It was a warm and sunny day, but clouds came in from time to time and cooled things off a little. The initial section of the route after branching off #261 wasn't hard to follow. Pink ribbons in the tree branches were easy to spot as well as cairns. Then the trail starts going up. It was boulder hopping with a fair amount of underbrush to push through, and often what looked like the easy way to go was blocked by burnt tree branches. We went to the right of the route up the first steep pitch to the plateau below the peak then went back to the trail.

On the final steep section we somehow ended up to the left of the route and had a steeper climb than we could have, but once we figured out we weren't on the route we were committed. There were cairns even on our crappy route which convinced me that the whole peak has cairns randomly scattered all over it and not just on the easy trail. We came up directly from the South of the peak and followed an overgrown chute to the top coming up just to the West of the peak. It wasn't pretty, but we made it. There were bushes filled with gnats just below the top. To get to the top we had to brush against them and a cloud gnats would appear and cover my arms. At the top there was enough breeze to keep them away, so we sat for a while and enjoyed the view.

The way down was much easier. We went down the East side of the peak and followed the ridge line. We saw some cairns but there was lots of brush and burnt trees that made the climb down tough. When it looked like we were almost down to the plateau we found ourselves at an impassable drop off and had a fun time getting down the last few feet. After all that boulder hopping and bushwhacking it was a huge relief to get back to the actual trail again.

This was a challenging hike, but very rewarding.
Granite Mountain Trail #261
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
I liked the beginning of this trail in the cool pine forest. Then as it started heading up the hill I was worried about it getting hot, but near the top of the hill the wind started blowing strongly which made it almost too cold. I followed the trail around to the South side of the rock pinnacle above the granite wall, but the trail sort of petered out. I climbed up a few boulders until I got to just below the peak, but the rocks were pretty much vertical and I didn't see a path to the top from that side. I found a nice comfy rock to sit on and had a snack and some water, then I started exploring around to see if there was a way to the top. I didn't find anything going around the front side. Then I tried going around the back side, but there was no trail, and it didn't look all that easy. I gave up since I don't like to get too daring when hiking alone. It was a little disappointing getting within 30 or 40 feet of the top and giving up, but it was a good walk anyway.

Both ways I saw more lizards than anything. It seemed like every boulder along the trail had at least one or two lizards on it, and they were constantly darting across the trail right in front of me too. When I was nearly back to the trailhead I saw something colorful moving ahead of me. It turned out to be a mountain king snake! It was not happy to see me and quickly dove under a rock to the side of the trail, but I managed to snap a couple of pictures.

Definitely going to do this one again.

Lots of pinkish fragrant flowers that looked like snapdragons along trail.

Permit $$

Prescott Forest
Prescott National Forest Pass

Only trailheads with six "amenities" have fees. Amenities are picnic tables, trash, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Metate Trailhead
Take I-17 North to the St Rt 69 Prescott exit, turn left (north) When entering Prescott stay Left on SR89 which is Sheldon St. Follow Sheldon St. to the 'T' intersection at Montezuma St. and turn right. Montezuma turns into Whipple which turns into Iron Springs Rd. (St Rt 10). Continue on this road. At about the 3.5 mile mark turn right on FR 374( You will see the brown recreation sign marking the Granite Basin Day Use area including the Metate Trailhead.) Follow the road about 3 miles back to the trailhead parking area at the end of the loop road.

2011-09-16 Garry Milo There is no sign for FR374. There is a sign for Granite Basin Road. Once you turn on to it, the FR374 sign is a few hundred feet down the road.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 2 hours 18 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 3 hours 46 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 2 hours 1 min
3 pack - loud whistle
go prepared
help comment issue

end of page marker