5 fantastic fall hikes

Crisp leaves of gold and yellow have begun their annual fall, but there are still plenty of places in Prescott to catch the colors of autumn.

While the Prescott area is known largely for its stately ponderosa pines, pockets of leafy trees can be found along hikes all over town. And with temperatures hovering in the high 70s, could there be a better time to hit the trails than sunny October?

Granite Creek: Flume Trail

Difficulty: Moderate – short, but with some steep, rocky climbs

Length: Multiple loops are available, but the easiest path follows Granite Creek to the Watson Lake Dam, about two miles roundtrip.

How to get there: Park at the Flume Trailhead on Granite Dells Road, about a half-mile east of Highway 89.

What’s great about it: Because it follows the creek, the trail features lush greenery (now turning yellow and red), with the Granite Dells as a backdrop.

Granite, Miller creeks: Greenways

Difficulty: Easy

Length: About 1.5 miles of Greenways exist along Granite and Miller creeks — branching out from the Granite Creek Park area. One of the lesser known sections begins at Mile High Middle School and heads through downtown toward Granite Creek Park.

How to get there: Access points exist throughout downtown, including Mile High Middle School, Goodwin Street, Gurley Street, and Granite Creek Park. Parking is available along city streets or at the park.

What’s great about it: Not only do the Greenway Trails offer a peek at changing fall colors, but they also pass by a number of eateries with adjacent outdoor patios, including El Gato Azul and the Dinner Bell Café.

Copper Basin Road: Aspen Creek

Difficulty: Easy

Length: More a road than a trail, access to the Prescott’s most prominent stand of aspens is available on Copper Basin Road, or by walking or four-wheeling up the adjacent Forest Service roads, including 9402D.

How to get there: Take Copper Basin Road about 5 1/2 miles from the White Spar Road intersection.

What’s great about it: In the fall, the aspens sport shimmering golden leaves, offering a striking contrast to the trees’ white-bark trunks.

‘P’ Mountain: Badger Trail

Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous

Length: 3.5 miles of new trail, for a roundtrip or loop of about seven miles.

How to get there: The Turley Trailhead, with access via Gurley Street, Robinson Drive, Butterfield Road, and Wells Fargo Road. The gated trailhead is located at the end of a drive off Wells Fargo.

What’s great about it: Plenty of sweeping views of Prescott and its promontories, with splashes of fall colors. Volunteers and city recreation staff are currently working to finish 3.5 miles of new trail off the existing Badger Trail, which will become part of the Prescott Circle Trail. Although accessible now, the new section will officially open by Thanksgiving.

Willow Lake: Cottonwood Peninsula

Difficulty: Easy

Length: The peninsula is located along the 5.7-mile Willow Lake Loop, but can be reached within less than a mile from the trailhead behind the Willow Creek Dog Park.

How to get there: Park in the area behind the Willow Creek Dog Park, which is located at 3181 Willow Creek Road. Take the Willow Lake Loop Trail to the left and then turn right at the sign for the Cottonwood Peninsula Trail.

What’s great about it: A grove of giant old cottonwood trees lies at the end of the peninsula fronting Willow Lake, attracting a variety of bird life, and featuring leaves just starting to turn gold.

Story and photos by Cindy Barks. Follow her on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2034.