Originally Published: March 25, 2010 10:16 p.m.
If Arizona's trails generally lack anything it's water, but that's not so much of a problem these days.
This is a great time to get out and enjoy ephemeral streams that are flowing all over the place out of the plentiful mountain snowpack as the days warm up.
Relatively deep pockets of snow still cover the mountains in the Prescott National Forest south and west of Prescott. Some of the forest roads have dried out, although we wouldn't recommend most of them for passenger cars just yet.
Some of the lower-elevation parts of the Prescott Forest just southeast of Prescott have lost most of their snow cover, such as Trail 444 between Lynx Ruin Road and Lynx Lake. From Walker Road, drive 0.4 miles down Lynx Ruin Road to the large parking area to reach the trailhead.
It's a relatively short hike to the backside of Lynx Lake dam, but well worth visiting because Lynx Creek is flowing nicely along the entire trail.
We also took a ride southwest of Prescott up Copper Basin Road to see how much snow remains in that part of the forest.
We counted seven intermittent streams running into Aspen Creek next to the 1.7-mile stretch of road between the end of the pavement and the trailhead parking area for trails 48 and 393. Aspen Creek was running across the road just deep enough to make passenger car drivers think twice about crossing.
The ponderosa pine up there smell so sweet right now that it must be a signal they are happy and saturated.
But hiking on the trails up there can be a bit hazardous. Without warning as you walk across patches of snow, you can suddenly drop through the snow crust down to your kneecap. The going can be slow.
So right now it's best to enjoy local streamside strolls within Prescott proper.
Granite Creek is running wide and sandy in Watson Woods after collecting runoff through town from all its tributaries. It's perfect for children to wade in right now if it's a warm enough day.
These woods are located just above Watson Lake, accessible via lake trails or the Peavine trailhead off Sundog Ranch Road.
The power of winter flooding still is quite evident in Watson Woods, with lots of downed trees and the disappearance of some manmade improvements such as a creek-side bench.
Trash washed downstream with everything else, so it would be a nice gesture to bring along at least one trash bag to help clean up the place. It's a great lesson for children, too.
Trash leftover from the winter flood events is a problem all over the city's trails, especially on the Greenways trails.
This downtown trail system lost bridges over Granite and Miller creek during winter floods. Well, they're not actually lost, but they're twisted up and downstream from where they used to be.
Without the bridges it's not quite as easy to continue onto one trail from another, because the water is high and strong enough in some places to knock a person down.
Someone who parks at Granite Creek Park, for example, is going to get pretty wet trying to continue upstream along Granite and Miller creeks.
Try parking in the large lot at Sheldon and Montezuma streets. The streams there are narrow enough to jump across.
We saw one person using the damaged Miller Creek bridge but it doesn't look safe.