The Daily Courier Logo
Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
10:29 PM Sun, Nov. 18th

Granite Mountain<BR>Trails to overlook offer diverse vegetation, rock formations

Rock formations, junipers, and pine trees are premier features of the last section of the hike to the overlook.

About a half-mile from the vista overlook, the trail transitions to flatter terrain once again. There, the tall pines and junipers offer shade, while the higher elevation cools the mountain breeze.

Although the Forest Service rates the first portion of the trail as "moderate," it classifies the second half as "difficult."

The difficulty of the trail doesn't keep people from making the hike, however. "I've even seen people run it," Baxter said.

Along with hikers and horseback riders, the rock face of Granite Mountain also attracts many serious climbers. But during the winter and spring, the Forest Service closes down the mountain face to allow for undisturbed falcon nesting. The main hiking trails remain open during that time, Baxter said.

While the trail to the Granite Mountain Overlook attracts the most users, plenty of other trails are available in the area as well.

The Metate parking lot can serve as a starting point for a number of hikes, including the 3.2-mile Balancing Rock Trail and the 1.8-mile Clark Spring Trail. The Little Granite Mountain Trail, which hikers also can access from farther up Iron Springs Road, is accessible from the Metate parking area as well.

The Blair Pass area serves as a three-way junction for either the overlook trail, the Clark Springs Trail or the Little Granite Mountain Trail.

The 9,799-acre Granite Mountain Wilderness Area is just one of eight such areas that lie within the boundaries of the Prescott National Forest.

Other wilderness areas in the forest include: Apache Creek, Castle Creek, Cedar Bench, Juniper Mesa, Pine Mountain, Sycamore Canyon, and Woodchute.

But, says the Forest Service's Web site: "Granite Mountain is the most popular of all of the wildernesses because of its proximity to Prescott (only 20 minutes by paved road) and the unique experience it offers for hiking among huge granite boulders, rock formations, and the outstanding view of the surrounding area."

Access the Prescott National Forest's official Web site at www.fs.fed.us/r3/prescott/.

Contact Cindy Barks at cbarks@prescottaz.com.