Highlands Center

Highlands Center

The Highlands Center for Natural History and the Prescott National Forest co-sponsored the second annual “Take a Hike!” A hiking stick and specially designed medallion with an impression of Thumb Butte are being offered to those who complete eight of twelve hikes by November 28th.  Six of my eight hikes were new to me.  I had previously hiked the four-mile Garden Grove loop on Thumb Butte, the only trail identified as strenuous from my selections, but saw it anew by walking counterclockwise.  The three-mile moderate Cold Springs Trail, located about 1.5 miles after the blacktop ends on Copper Basin Road, was less enjoyable than most of the other hikes because of high winds on our visit.  There was no wind when I hiked on the Aspen Creek Trail, located directly across from Cold Springs.  Shortly after leaving the dirt road, a fawn and three deer crossed the trail and blended into the hillside.  Oak leaves added color to this moderate 4.4 mile hike and smoke from a prescribed burn in the Prescott National Forest added interest.

Smith Ravine Trailhead

Smith Ravine Trailhead

The first part of the 2.6 mile moderate Smith Ravine Trail, off Walker Road, winds through a burn area.  We hiked beyond the identified end point in order to take in the views of fall colors and an expansive valley.  The 1.4 mile Gold Pan Trail, also located on Walker Road, was considered easy, but the elevation increases were noticeable after hiking the Smith Ravine Trail earlier in the day.  We rewarded ourselves on this beautiful blue sky day with prime rib sandwiches and spaetzle with onions and pepper jack cheese at the Lynx Lake Cafe!  The 3.5 mile Hokaygon Willow Trail, located southeast of Granite Mountain off Katahn Drive, was a more exposed trail than our others.  We spotted scat, possibly from javelina, on the trail in four separate locations.  I completed my eight hikes by walking the easy one mile Lynx Ruin Trail again and discovering the unique geologic features on the moderate 1.5 mile Highland Trail.  Lynx Creek, one of the most productive gold streams in Arizona, even had water.  Now I have a walking stick!

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