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Sun, May 26

Blog: Iron King Trail is a favorite destination in Prescott Valley

Newlyweds Bill and Sally Thompson bike the Iron King Trail in Prescott Valley on June 4, 2010. Photo by Cheryl Hartz

Newlyweds Bill and Sally Thompson bike the Iron King Trail in Prescott Valley on June 4, 2010. Photo by Cheryl Hartz

I'm a regular visitor to Iron King Trail, a 4-mile Rails to Trails project in Prescott Valley. I've walked, jogged and biked the path, usually with my dog and sometimes all the way to the 4-plus-mile Peavine Trail in Prescott's Granite Dells. Lots of folks bike the whole connecting system for a good workout.

The Iron King follows an old railroad bed from Glassford Hill Road into the Dells. Traveling from Prescott Valley, the trail seems level but has a slight incline, so coming back, you can coast almost the whole way on a bike.

Builders set three antique railroad crew carts at one-mile intervals as rest benches. The covered carts once carried railway workers up and down the line.

The trail itself is wide and covered with "trail mix" - much like decomposed granite - so it's fairly smooth. The scenery transitions from high desert vegetation to towering rock formations and forest as you move past extinct volcano Glassford Hill into the Dells. Keep going and you'll see Watson Lake.

I've seen a plethora of wildlife along the way: pronghorn antelope, coyotes, javelina, jackrabbits, cottontails, hawks, lizards, rattlesnakes, California King snakes and even a burrowing owl once, perched on a bridge's metal post. The bridges are constructed from actual flatbed rail cars.

People claim to have seen mountain lions, and signs warn of possible danger.

You have to carry your own water. Portable restrooms are at trailheads only. Pets must be leashed and plastic waste bags and waste bins are available at several sites along the trail.

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