Originally Published: November 23, 2017 9:50 p.m.
Turkey. Most who will be reading this today have likely had more than their fill by now. Refrigerators now stuffed full of tinfoil wrapped leftovers waiting to be consumed over the next few days. For many this time of year brings together family and maybe if lucky enough even an extra day off.
Black Friday is probably the biggest day of frantic mass consumerism across the nation. It will start with crowds gathering outside storefronts before the sun even considers rising. But what if instead of all that you rolled your bike out to find a completely different kind of turkey?
I have come across groups of wild turkey at various times throughout my Prescott pedaling adventures. Once or twice in clusters easily exceeding twenty. They gobble, waddle, complain and scatter around only to vanish swiftly into the underbrush. Even though observation is generally fleeting, it’s still remarkable to see them. But where to look is the trick and there will be more than just a small amount of luck required as well.
One of the spots I come across them the most frequently is the upper part of Smith Ravine trail leaving Spruce Mountain road. This trailhead requires a long climb to reach but a majority of the trail has a very rewarding downward bias. Countless times have I swept through a corner only to shock a group of them, causing a boisterous scattering into the surrounding woods. Perhaps the little bit of extra speed generated from gravity gives one the advantage of surprise. The upper part of T366 leading down from Prietta is also another spot turkeys tend to gather. Generally I see smaller groups here but often can hear them gobbling off to the sides never to be actually seen… at least not while concentrating on the next rock garden or series of swooping corners.
An added benefit on this trail is the expansive views down to town as well as Granite Mountain in the distance. Enough fall color can still be found and the rustle of the fallen leaves always brings back childhood memories.
The final area to look is around the Bean Peaks close to Ponderosa Park. The trails and roads are less clearly marked here so it’s easy to get confused. That said, Wolf Creek Road makes for a pretty clear boundary and can be used as a back up to navigate if needed.
I encourage those that are willing to really explore this area. It does not get many visitors so besides turkeys you can spot all sorts of wildlife as well as some really nice creeks with water holes scattered along the way. Even if you forget the stores entirely in hopes of spotting a turkey or two and come up empty I can guarantee the experience of the search will be more than worth it.
After all, finding a new trail or section of the PNF is bound to be more rewarding than getting the best deal on the newest I-Toaster must have super gadget.
Steve Reynolds is a columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Instagram at @Prescottopia. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.