by Blake Herzog
Prescott’s Pioneer Park is a beehive of outdoor sports with a roller hockey rink, pickleball courts and multiuse fields for baseball, softball, soccer and football, plus the Kuebler Sports Complex.
But more than anything it’s a place to walk or ride.
The City has managed to fold 20 miles of trails into the park, a maze of singletrack and doubletrack paths through scrublands in the shadow of Granite Mountain, Thumb Butte and more majestic peaks to the west.
These can be combined into a seemingly infinite number of loops and throughways, many of them color-coded for easy navigation. You can find maps of these suggested loops at www.prescott-az.gov/recreation-area/pioneer-park-trails.
The trails zigzag through grasses and past trees to provide a variety of environments and travel through different types of terrain, from broad, flat surfaces to hairpin twists along ridges, taking you to more forks than you thought possible in a relatively small area. It may sound like it would be easy to get lost here, but the absence of large-scale tree cover makes it relatively easy to spot landmarks and orient yourself in the right direction.
Also known as the Brownlow trail system, the Pioneer Park trails lie mostly west of Commerce Drive and south of Pioneer Parkway, though two tunnels under the parkway give access to sweeping paths without as many intersections for what some may find to be a cleaner experience.
The park has much to offer mountain bikers, hikers, horses and their riders throughout the year, with bright sun warming the winter landscape, green grass and wildflowers taking over in the spring and wide-open horizons coming to the fore in summer.
Since some parts of the trails lack shade, it’s a good idea to bring extra water and protection from the sun here in warmer weather.
Pioneer Park offers an easy-to-reach trail network where no two trips have to be the same, where every visit can be a new adventure as you string together different segments to create a unique experience. It’s time for you to try it out if you haven’t!
The trails in this 280-acre park are well-connected to the rest of the City of Prescott’s Mile High Trail System, connected on each end to trails we’ve already written about — the EmbryRiddle/Jan Alfano to the east and Longview on the west.
To reach Pioneer Park from downtown Prescott, take Gurley Street east until reaching AZ Route 89. Turn left (north) onto 89 and continue about 3.7 miles to Willow Lake Road, turning left (west). After about 2 miles turn right onto Willow Creek Road, then take the first left onto Sandretto Drive. Then take the first right onto Tower Road and continue to Commerce Drive. After about a third of a mile, the Brownlow Trail parking lot will be on your left, next to the pickleball courts.
Parking fees: None
Uses: Hiking, mountain biking, equestrian
Distance: 20 miles total, with numerous
ways to customize your trek within
Level of difficulty: Easy to moderate
Elevation: 5,220 feet to 5,580 feet