Originally Published: May 16, 2018 6:02 a.m.
The views from Prescott Valley’s Glassford Hill Summit Trail are always breathtaking – showcasing virtually every surrounding promontory.
After last week’s Viewpoint Fire, though, the views take a more serious turn by offering perspective on the scope of the devastating wildfire.
The human-caused fire is still under investigation, but the results are crystal clear from Prescott Valley’s highest point.
As hikers approached the summit on Sunday, May 13, the miles of blackened earth came into startling view – along with the wildfire’s close proximity to the nearby subdivisions. A red line of flame-retardant slurry was still visible along the northwestern edge of the charred area.
VARIETY OF VIEWS
While the charred area near Viewpoint is currently front and center, the route offers plenty of other interesting and scenic features as well.
The trail sets out from a 25-space paved parking lot along East Antelope Lane, and begins with a gradual climb toward a water tank. As the trail rises, views of the cinder formation that caps the hill come into greater focus.
Length: 4.2 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Strenuous – short but steep
Prominent features: A close-up view of Prescott Valley’s 12-million-year-old volcano; sweeping vistas of Prescott Valley, Prescott, and the surrounding area.
Why it’s great right now: The cliffrose blooms along the trail are at their peak; the spring wind makes for a bracing stop at the 6,123-foot-high summit; the summit offers clear and unobstructed views of the scope of last week’s wildfire in the Viewpoint area.
Information from the Town of Prescott Valley notes that the hill once spouted lava as an active volcano.
The origins of the hill date back about 12 million years, when the violent volcano covered the area with basalt and ash, according to one of the informative signs along the way.
“Also visible are lava flows that were once rivers of fire. The center of Glassford Hill is a cinder cone intruded by three dikes of basalt that join the center,” the sign adds.
Evidence of the once-active volcano is everywhere on the hill’s summit - tufts of blond grass pushing out between the reddish-brown rocks.
The vast summit area is a prime spot for 360-degree views of the Prescott Valley and Prescott communities – all of which are framed by rustic metal signs formed to mimic the shapes of the surrounding mountains.
The route features a series of switchbacks, which get steeper near the top. In all, the trail rises about 940 feet to a summit elevation of 6,123 feet.
The Town of Prescott Valley classifies the Summit Trail as “more difficult.”
Bordering the 2.1 mile climb right now are prickly cliffrose shrubs bursting with white-and-yellow blooms, and a sea of tall desert grass waving in the wind.
The route also passes by archaeological evidence of ancient Indian villages around Glassford Hill, which the town says dates back to about 1400.
The trail opened to the public in the spring of 2016, and since then it has attracted a growing number of regular users, said Prescott Valley Parks and Recreation Coordinator Robert Kieren.
Although the town does not track numbers, Kieren estimates that the Summit Trail attracts several hundred users a week.
“Just like the Iron King Trail, people use it prior to work or after work,” he said.
The town’s Summit Trail is expected to be joined soon by a connecting trail from Prescott’s side that will link with the area’s popular rail-trails – Prescott’s Peavine Trail and Prescott Valley’s Iron King Trail.
The Glassford Hill trailhead is located at 6000 E. Antelope Lane, Prescott Valley, via Sunset, Prescott East Highway, and Highway 69.
More information on the trail is available on the Town of Prescott Valley’s website: https://www.pvaz.net/DocumentCenter/View/3050/Glassford-Hill-Summit-Trail.