Willow & Hokaygon Trails Friday, Nov 16 2018 

Hokaygon Trail Vista

Hokaygon Trail Vista

Yesterday we parked at the west end of Katahn Drive in northwest Prescott where we accessed Willow Trail #347, the first segment of the Prescott Circle Trail. We last hiked here in 2010. The trailhead is at an elevation of 5,490 feet. We hiked 1.5 miles up a steep, rocky hill southeast of Granite Mountain. We passed a John Deere model 17G excavator whose recent work with its dozer blade and backhoe had been evident to us. We returned on Hokaygon Trail #341, a 1.4-mile internal trail that crosses power lines before connecting with the Willow Trail 0.6 miles from the trailhead. We did not encounter anyone on the trail, although another car was parked near ours at the trailhead.

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Old Stone Corral Saturday, Nov 10 2018 

Old Stone Corral

Old Stone Corral

When I hiked General Crook Trail #64 back in October 2011, I got lost and didn’t see the most important landmark, the old stone corral. On yesterday’s hike we correctly followed the cairns set up by Boy Scouts marking this Arizona State Historical Trail for the 1976 Bicentennial. When we crossed a dry Ash Creek, the old stone corral was clearly visible. Our interest in this hike was motivated by a one-page article in the October 2018 Phoenix Magazine. General Crook established a wagon road from Fort Whipple to Fort Apache in the 1880s. It was used for 22 years to patrol the northern border of the Apache reservation. The old stone corral, a waystation for travelers, was known as Hecla, named after a nearby gold mine. A major flood in 1898 wiped out the fledging town amidst the cottonwoods. The area around the old stone corral is now an archaeological site shaded by massive cottonwoods.

Storm Ranch Trails Friday, Oct 26 2018 

Watson Lake & Granite Mountain

Watson Lake & Granite Mountain

We completed our eighth “Take a Hike!” in the newly constructed Storm Ranch Trails. In 2017, the City of Prescott purchased land from the owners of Storm Ranch. The Over-the-Hill Gang constructed an extensive trail system earlier this year. After hiking 1.9 miles on the popular Peavine Trail, we took the Boulder Creek Trail for 0.6 miles. The trailhead is at an elevation of 5,190 feet. We intersected the Easter Island trail and followed it for 0.7 miles, including a wonderful overlook of the backwaters of Watson Lake with Granite Mountain in the distance.  Earlier this year we explored both of these trails, but on this hike we walked the opposite direction on the Easter Island Trail. We returned to the parking lot 1.5 miles on the Peavine. There were numerous hikers and mountain bikers on the Peavine; we only passed on hiker within the Storm Ranch Trail complex. While the city purchased some of the Storm Ranch land, a developer wants to build homes within the Granite Dells area and construct several roads that will cross the Peavine Trail. In my opinion, it is too bad we can’t make all this land public.

Willow Lake Trail Wednesday, Oct 24 2018 

Willow Lake

Willow Lake

For our seventh “Take a Hike!” we drove to Willow Lake. When I missed taking the main road where one pays a $3 parking fee, we parked adjacent one of the ball fields and walked about 0.3 mile to the boat ramp parking area where the trailhead begins. In the five years since I last did this hike, I’ve slowed down a bit. The trailhead elevation is 5,160 feet and rises to 5,210 feet. It climbs up and down over boulders through the scenic Granite Dells around part of Willow Lake. I was surprised to encounter a coral snake on a barren slab of granite. After hiking more than 1.5 miles because of my meandering off the trail, my wife and I decided to split up. She didn’t want to renegotiate the ups and downs we had already traversed. She would continue hiking on the trails around Willow Lake to the East Bay Trail while I would return to fetch the car and drive it to the parking area near that trail. We did reconnect, but it helped that we had cell phone coverage. Only one more required hike. Let’s hope it involves less drama.

Spruce Mountain SE Trail Friday, Oct 19 2018 

Cole Cabin

Cole Cabin

For our sixth “Take a Hike!” we drove 8.1 miles on the Mount Vernon Highway to the junction with Forest Road 78. The last mile is a wide dirt road. The trailhead is at 6,440 feet and follows Forest Road 78 for 0.5 miles before intersecting with Groom Creek Loop Trail #307. Colonel Bob Groom (1824-1899) surveyed Prescott. We hiked another 0.4 mile and took the short detour to the Cole Cabin. On this Friday afternoon we enjoyed blue skies and moderate temperatures without encountering any other hikers or mountain bikers.

Honeybucket Trail Revisited Friday, Oct 19 2018 

Granite Mountain

Granite Mountain

Our fifth “Take a Hike!” trail, Honeybucket Trail #333, was one we explored last year when it opened. It requires traveling 1.6 miles on Thumb Butte Loop Road, a pot-holed dirt road. The trailhead is at 6,400 feet near a large juniper and the junction with Forest Road 51. Yesterday’s pleasant fall temperatures allowed us to descend to a low point of 6,100 feet with some nice views of Granite Mountain. We saw three deer and later a lone mountain biker passed us. At one point the trail passes a post for frisbee golf. What is it doing there? We returned via a forest road that connected with Thumb Butte Bypass Trail #326. Unlike the trails in Payson, this narrow trail is rockier. We need to complete three more hikes before December 9th to qualify for a medallion.

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