One of the best things about riding in Prescott is the location and variety of easily accessible trails from downtown. Within four miles in almost any direction you will find a trail head. Turley, Whitespar, Thumb Butte and Ranch just to name a few. While all these interconnect in some way via the Circle Trail, there is a place for the more technically inclined not as easily found but more than worth figuring out.
Interlaced around Willow and Watson Lakes is the granite rock playground known as “The Dells.” It’s a maze of boulders marked with mapped signs and white dots sprayed on the rocks.
Chris Hosking and the Over the Hill gang have done an amazing job creating paths and routes that are hard to even imagine. Massive boulders have been moved, ravines bridged and stairs placed in surprising and impossible locations. All of this work brings users closer to the magic of the area.
Riders who wish to explore the Dells have the most fun with a veteran guide leading the way. Endless loops and options can get confusing as well as frustrating. Most trails have optional more advanced lines and drops to play on that can be easy to miss all together. It makes sense to learn from more experienced riders instead of just fumbling around the hard way.
One of the easiest areas to explore might be the Constellation Trail system. Parking at Phippen, follow the trail that passes through a tunnel below Highway 89.
Almost immediately you will see a memorial and history of the C-121G Super Constellation airplane that crashed on this site during a training mission on February 28th, 1959. Scattered about are parts found during the building of the trails.
It’s good advice to bring a City of Prescott trail map with you. If you forget, most trail junctions will have a small diagram showing you where you currently are and where you might want to ride to next. My suggestion is to start heading south on the Rock Wall trail.
Be prepared as obstacles will start to come quickly. Those with a more technical appetite will begin to smile, others not used to such features may become frustrated with their progress. When in doubt, walk it out. There is no rush to master this area the first time… the boulders are very patient and happy to wait for your skills to progress. Instead, begin to look for lines that make sense. Ride what you feel confident with and start to learn how to read the rocks.
At the top of Rock Wall you will have several choices and a bench offering a wonderful view while you contemplate them all. No trail is directional, but some are definitely easier in one direction over the other. This is a closed trail system and while it’s somewhat easy to get jumbled or disorientated you can’t really get lost. Allow yourself to figure it out and enjoy the confusion.
The Dells really are an incredibly unique place to ride, hone your skills and push your boundaries. Plus it’s really fun to see all the hikers’ faces when you pedal through the impossible.
Steve Reynolds is a columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Instagram at @Prescottopia. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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