Prescott is a city in Arizona that is best known for its hiking trails. The city has over 400 miles of trails that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding area. This makes hiking in Prescott a great option for both beginners and experienced hikers alike. There are a variety of trails that offer different levels of difficulty, so there is something for everyone.
I had the opportunity to hike some of the best trails in this city last year, and I wanted to share my experience with you. Therefore, I have put together a list of the 7 Best Hiking Trails in Prescott so that you can experience the best that the city has to offer.
1. Thumb Butte Trail
Thumb Butte is one of the best-known landmarks in Prescott and can be seen from almost anywhere in town. The best views, however, are from the top, and the best way to get there is by hiking the Thumb Butte Trail.
This is a moderate hike that is just under 3 miles round trip and gains about 680 feet in elevation. The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow as it switchbacks up the side of the butte. It took me about an hour and a half to reach the top, but I stopped quite a bit to take photos.
The views from the top are definitely worth the effort, and on a clear day, you can see for miles in every direction. If you’re up for a longer hike, there are several trails that connect to Thumb Butte Trail and can add on several miles.
I would recommend doing this hike in a counter-clockwise direction. This way, you’ll have a gradual ascent with better views. And steep descent back to the trailhead. So, even if you’re not in the best shape, this hike is still doable, and you’ll be rewarded with amazing views!
Start this hike early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the heat of the day. Prescott can get quite hot in the summer, and there is very little shade on this trail. You’ll find a restroom and picnic tables at the trailhead.
2. Watson Lake Trail
I’m always up for a good lake loop hike, and this one was definitely one of the best hikes in Prescott I’ve been on. The Watson Lake Trail is a 4.8-mile loop that takes you around Watson Lake, which is one of my favorite places in Prescott. The lake is absolutely beautiful, and it’s a great place to relax after a hike.
The Watson Lake Trail is rated as hard, and it’s definitely on the easier end of the spectrum. It starts from a boat ramp and immediately ascends into large multi-colored granite rocks that line the shores of the lake. It’s a really pretty hike and one that I would recommend to anyone looking for a moderate Prescott hike. However, there are some rocky sections, so be sure to wear hiking boots or shoes with good tread.
I did not complete the full loop as I wanted to save some energy for my next trail. But if you’re up for it, I think it would be a great hike as this is one of the top-rated hiking trails in Prescott.
3. Granite Mountain Hike
If you’re looking for a Prescott hike that will really test your limits, the Granite Mountain Hike is definitely worth checking out. This is a 7.9-mile out-and-back hike located in the Granite Basin Recreation Area. And although it’s a bit longer hike, it’s definitely one of the most scenic.
The Granite Mountain Hike takes you to the top of Granite Mountain, which is among the highest point in Prescott. And along the way, you’ll be treated to some incredible views of the surrounding area.
The first part of the hike is pretty easy, as it follows a fairly level path at the base of the mountain. But after that, the last two-thirds of the trail gets a bit more challenging as it climbs up the side of the mountain. There are a few switchbacks, but nothing too difficult. And as you get higher, the views just keep getting better and better.
Of course, the best part of the hike is the summit. At 7,600 feet, you’ll be treated to some incredible 360-degree views of Prescott. Just be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks, as there is no water available on the trail. And if you’re hiking in the summer, start early to avoid the heat.
Although this hike is challenging, it’s definitely one of the best hiking trails in Prescott. So if you’re up for a challenge, don’t forget to add the Granite Mountain Hike to your list!
4. Peavine Trail
My plans for a leisurely weekend bike ride on the Peavine Trail were quickly dashed when I realized the area had been taken over by snow. But since I was already there, I decided to go for a hike instead. And I’m glad I did because this turned out to be one of the best hikes in Prescott I’ve been on.
The Peavine Trail is a 12-mile loop that takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery Prescott has to offer. The trail winds its way through large trees, fantastic rocks, and desert scenery. There are a few places where the trail gets a little steep, but overall it’s a pretty easy hike.
But don’t let the distance scare you off, because the best part about this hike is that you can turn around at any point and still have a great time. I hiked for about two hours before I had to turn back, but I easily could’ve spent another few hours on the trail.
So if you’re looking for a Prescott hike that has a little bit of everything, the Peavine Trail is worth checking out. And although I didn’t get to bike this time, I’m definitely going to come back and try the trail when the snow is gone!
5. Glassford Hill Trail
I’m not going to lie, I was a little hesitant about hiking the Glassford Hill Trail. I had heard that it was extremely popular, and I was worried that it would be too crowded. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this hike. And it deserves a spot on this list of the best hiking trails in Prescott.
The Glassford Hill Trail is a 4.5-mile out-and-back trail in the Prescott Valley. And although it is popular, I didn’t find it too crowded. I think this is because the trail is pretty big, so there’s plenty of room for everyone.
The Glassford Hill Trail is rated as moderate, but it has some challenging sections. The trail is relatively flat from the gate to the base of the hill. After that, it’s a pretty steady climb to the top with a few switchbacks. And once you get to the top of Glassford Hill, you’ll be treated to some incredible views of Prescott Valley. There’s also a picnic table at the top, so it’s a great place to take a break and enjoy the views.
Just be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen as there is no shade on this hike.
6. Salida Gulch Trail
The Salida Gulch Trail is one of the best Prescott hikes for those who want to get away from the crowds. This is a much less crowded trail and a great option if you want to work out.
The Salida Gulch Trail is a 4.5-mile loop in the Prescott National Forest. This is a moderate trail but with some sections that may be challenging.
The best part of the Salida Gulch Trail is that it takes you away from the city and into some of Prescott’s most beautiful scenery. The trail winds its way through the forest, a couple of stream beds, and there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the views. I also saw a lot of wildlife on this hike, including deer, rabbits, and birds.
It took me about three hours to complete the Salida Gulch Trail, and I definitely worked up a sweat. But it was an incredibly enjoyable hike and one that I would definitely recommend to others. Plus, it’s a great option if you’re looking for something a little more challenging than some of the other hiking trails in Prescott on this list.
Note that this trail is open to mountain bikers and horseback riders, so you may encounter some traffic on the trail. And if you come mountain biking here, remember that this is a more challenging hike than some other bike trails in Prescott. So if you’re looking for an easy ride, you might want to try something else. But if you’re up for a challenge, the Salida Gulch Trail is definitely worth checking out.
7. Willow Lake Loop Trail
Willow Lake is another one of the best hikes in Prescott, and it’s also one of the most popular trails in the area. This is because it combines a couple of other great trails that Prescott has to offer, forming a fantastic 5.7-mile hike.
This trail is rated as moderate, and I would say that’s accurate. It’s not too difficult, but there are some parts that are a bit more challenging than others. The best part of this hike is that it takes you through some really beautiful scenery along the shores of Willow Lake and granite rocks.
If you’re not willing to complete the entire loop, I would suggest taking the Willow Lake trail that leads to one side of the lake. Here you’ll get some great views of the lake and the surrounding area. The best thing is that this trail is mostly flat, making it great for families with young children.
You’ll often see kayakers and canoeists on the lake, and there are even some areas where you can go for a swim. Just be sure to bring plenty of water with you as there is no water available on the trail.
Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or an easy stroll, Prescott has a hiking trail for you. And these are just a few of the best hiking trails in Prescott. So get out there and explore. And if you’re looking for more hiking inspiration, check out my other hiking blog post.