Away up high in the Sierry Petes
Note: Description is for the east half, stats are for the full trail segment. Co-Author for the west half is open.
The West Spruce Trail #264 follows the crest of the northern Sierra Prieta mountains west of Prescott. It is made up of two unconnected segments: the west half and the east half. This description is of the east half. Views, cool forest country and 7160 foot West Spruce Mountain are the attractions on this peaceful trail. West Spruce Mountain is actually named for its stand of douglas fir trees, which early settlers in this region misidentified as spruce. The Sierra Prieta peaks, of which West Spruce Mountain is a part, were made famous in the poem "Sierry Petes (or Tying The Knots In The Devil's Tail)", by Prescott cowboy Gail Gardner.
Beginning at the trailhead just north of the Sierra Prieta overlook, start heading up the trail on the east side of the ridge as it parallels county road 65. The trail soon reaches the top of the ridge, passing a gigantic old alligator juniper along the way. Arriving at a saddle below a brush covered outcropping of weathered granite, wonderful views of Copper Basin, Skull Valley, and distant mountain ranges open up to the west. Other points along the trail feature great views of Granite Mountain, Thumb Butte, and the San Francisco Peaks.
At about the 0.66 mile mark, the first of several side trails to the east appear; this one goes to fire damaged William's Peak. Keep left and follow the ridgeline when encountering these side trails to stay on the West Spruce Trail. Beyond this unmarked junction, the trail continues through the ponderosa and gambel oak forest, and begins a steady descent to its lowest point, in a 6600 foot saddle. The West Spruce Trail contours along the 6600 foot level for awhile, before starting to climb again around mile 2. At this point you will encounter the first of an increasing number of douglas fir trees, on a shady uphill stretch. At the top of this little hill, 7000 foot Porter Mountain comes into view ahead. The trail now traverses the top of a steep brushy ridge, where the occasional interspersed douglas firs seem out of place.
The trail crosses two more small saddles before making a 300 foot climb to the top of a unnamed, flat topped mountain, slightly southwest of Porter Mountain. Once on top, the West Spruce Trail passes the junction with trail #300 and crosses over the top of a gully before contouring along the eastern slope of West Spruce Mountain itself. For those wanting to reach the summit of West Spruce Mountain, it is a short off trail hike up the slope on your left.
The east half of the West Spruce Trail soon comes to an end at forest road 47B. Should you wish to continue on, the west half of the West Spruce Trail is reportedly a 1.4 mile hike to the west down forest road 47B.
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.