If your goal is to experience the best Prescott has to offer, you need to test out the trails. Whether you’re inexperienced or your hiking boots are well worn, you’ll love the trails on this list! Bicyclists prefer the Peavine Trail, and the Constellation Trails are great for kids. Thumb Butte has two routes (easy and moderate), which makes it a good choice for group hikes, while Lynx Lake has large pine trees and a view of the shimmering lake. If you’re looking for a challenge, Granite Mountain is a more difficult trail.
Whatever your hiking itch is, we’re here to scratch it. Read on to find out why Prescott is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.
1. Thumb Butte Trail (Prescott)
2.1 Miles | Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
This trail is one of the most popular and oft-used in Prescott because it’s so close to Downtown Prescott. Signs along the trail identify plants and trees, making your hike educational and invigorating. This trail is for hikers only, and dogs must be on leashes (please clean up after your pets). It’s $5 a day to take this trail (Wednesdays are free). The trail climbs steeply to a ridge below the crest of Thumb Butte. There are plenty of large Ponderosa Pines, and Groom Creek Vista offers breathtaking panoramic views of the entire Prescott area, including the Bradshaw Mountains, Sierra Prieta Mountains, Granite Mountain, Mingus Mountain, and much, much more.
The Thumb Butte Trail takes about an hour round trip, and it’s 2.1 miles with an elevation is 6,314 feet. This trail is easy to moderate, and it’s fairly-heavily used as it’s one of the more popular trails in the area.
2. Constellation Trails (Prescott)
2.74 Miles | Difficulty: Easy
There is a $3 parking fee to use this 2.74-mile series of trail loops, and elevation starts at 5,016 feet and climbs to 5,229 feet. The trail is suitable for mountain biking and hiking, and the surface varies from packed earth to slick rock. There are beautiful rock formations and large boulders along the trail, along with scrub oak passageways and wildflowers. Since this trail is fantastic for all skill levels, it’s a favorite for many types of hikers, including bird watchers. Dogs are allowed on the trail as long as they have leashes.
The rocks at Granite Dells are as history-rich as anything in the area. And here’s another Prescott history fact for you: an actor named Tom Mix filmed a movie about 300 western movies in the Granite Dells area around 1927. Can you name the movie?
3. Granite Mountain (Prescott)
6 Miles | Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
The Granite Mountain Trail is part of a 6-mile loop starting near Little Granite Mountain Trail #37 and Clark Spring Trail #40. It goes from the Granite Basin Recreation Area up to Blair Pass and into the heart of Granite Mountain Wilderness. It’s a great trail for nature lovers, since you could encounter javelina, deer, foxes, snakes and lizards, and all kinds of southwestern birds, including Peregrine falcons.
Granite Mountain Trail is for hikers and horseback riders only, and visitors are asked to be alert and stay on existing trails, since cross-country travel increases the risk of injury. This heavy-use trail is two hours (one way) and goes from 5,500 feet to over 7,000 feet. After all that hiking, you’re sure to be hungry, so why not visit one of the best restaurants Prescott has to offer?
4. Peavine Trail (Prescott)
6 Miles | Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
The Peavine Trail in Prescott is one of the few “Rails to Trails” projects in Arizona. The six-mile trail was originally built by the Santa Fe Railway in 1893 and connects to the Iron King Trail for an additional four miles along the railroad bed. Prescott Lanes Parkway charges a $3 fee, but you find free parking with trail access from a side road off Highway 89A or Prescott Valley’s Iron King Trailhead. There are fantastic views of Watson Lake, Granite Dells, and great chance encounters with local wildlife. The Peavine Trail is open for walking, hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
The trail begins at an elevation of 5,160 at its lowest and climbs to 5,220 at its highest. Surfaces are ballast, cinder, crushed stone, and dirt, with a mostly gentle grade except for a steep (8-12%) section at about 3.1 miles downhill when going northbound. Hikers using wheelchairs, mobility equipment, or strollers may need assistance or want to avoid the steep section entirely.
5. Glassford Summit Trail (Prescott Valley)
4.6 Miles | Difficulty: Moderate
Heavily-used Glassford Summit Trail in Prescott Valley is moderately difficult. The 4.6-mile rocky, back trail features a cave in addition to beautiful views of Prescott Valley, including open fields of wildflowers and Glassford Hill. Be careful of wildlife – some hikers warn that there are lots of snakes and spiders. Many hikers say it’s a good workout and a more difficult trail than it seems to be. Wear good shoes and expect a steep climb that can be pretty windy in certain spots.
6. Lynx Creek Trail (Prescott)
2.7 Miles | Difficulty: Easy
The lightly-used Lynx Creek Trail is 2.7 miles and is fantastic for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips, but there are other trails around Lynx Lake that are open to equestrians and bicyclists, if you’re interested. Enjoy incredible views of the beautiful pines and the shimmering Lynx Lake, and you’re sure to encounter some wildlife along the way. In fact, part of the trail is closed from December 1 to June 30 for nesting bald eagles, which shouldn’t be disturbed during that time. Some of other the animals you may encounter on the Lynx Creek Trail are osprey, javelina, deer, and great blue herons.
7. North Shore, Flume, and Watson Dam Loop (Prescott)
2 Miles | Difficulty: Moderate
This two-mile loop is at the famous Watson Lake Park and is easily accessible from Prescott Valley. The heavily-used trail is moderate difficulty and is primarily for hiking and walking. Dogs are permitted but only with a leash, and the trail is full-sun, so make sure to bring water and wear sun protection. This loop has a 259-foot elevation gain and has some of the most stunning views Prescott has to offer, including Watson Lake, those famous big boulders, and all surrounding greenery. Some areas are steep and may be difficult to traverse with a stroller. It’s $3 for parking at the North Shore, Flume, and Watson Dam Loop.
Ready to Try Prescott?
There are amazing places to hike all over the Prescott area, so you’re sure to find a trail you enjoy no matter your skill level. And if you want to enjoy a taste of the outdoors, you can visit any of our fantastic local campgrounds and make it a full-on nature excursion. We have primitive camping, RV glamping, and good ol’ fashioned tent camping, including spots right near the Prescott National Forest. There are countless reasons for why Prescott is such a Mecca for outdoor lovers.
We love out city and we don’t get tired of writing about it because there’s something new and interesting around every corner. Whether you’re looking for a great vacation spot to immerse yourself in the great outdoors, or if you’re looking to relocate to a business- and family-friendly place where you can plant new roots, Prescott should definitely be on your radar. Come, play, or stay, but Try Prescott for yourself.