A Peek at Forest Off-Roading

Prescott National Forest is a hub for so many outdoor activities — hiking, biking, camping, fishing, horse-riding, boating, canoeing, birding and other nature viewing and so many more activities that put you into intimate contact with the beauty of the Bradshaw Mountains, Verde Valley and Chino Valley plateau. 

The many great trails available for off-roading vehicles can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of all these invigorating pastimes, but it’s another fantastic way to reach the more undeveloped areas where the beauty is more rugged and the wildlife more abundant.  

There are stellar OHV opportunities in each of the Prescott National Forest’s three districts, and there are great ways to reach hikes, trail runs or biking havens you haven’t tried before! Maps and details on these three trails, which showcase the diversity of our area, are available at www.alltrails.com or the Alltrails smartphone app.

Mingus Mountain — Accessible from Highway 89A at Forest Route 104 southeast of Jerome, this 15-mile path (one way) slithers around the southern base of Mingus Mountain, uses routes 104, 413 and 493 over rocky sections, past historic mines including the Silver King, and to sweeping Verde Valley views. 

Alto Pit — This trail starts by the Alto Pit OHV Day Use Area just northwest of Prescott off Iron Springs Road; its 400 acres are set in two former gravel pits just below Granite Mountain. It has open pits and trails, and this 22-mile trail takes full advantage of its setting, threading east and west along the base of the mountain through forests punctuated by massive, gravity-defying boulders. 

Castle Creek Road to Cleator — This trail’s name is a straightforward description of the 10-mile route. On the south edge of the forest, the road is accessible from Crown King Road via I-17’s Bumble Bee exit (No. 248). The creek it follows for much of its path is actually Black Canyon Creek, and when running it can create just enough mud to be an issue. It ends at the near-ghost town of Cleator and its famous “yacht club,” all of which is for sale for $1.25 million. 

Photo: Blushing Cactus Photography