by Blake Herzog
The Lower Granite Creek Discovery Trail is a short trail with a long name and list of reasons to explore it.
Whether you’re looking for something to do with your young kids, older friends or anyone in the mood for a scenic connection to the Peavine Trail, in just less than 1 mile it offers an accessible entry into the scenic wetlands around southern Watson Lake.
It begins at the southernmost parking lot in Watson Lake Park and follows the shore as the lake turns from boatable water into marshland, which attracts many migratory bird species during the winter. This part of the trek passes towering cottonwoods fronted by grassy meadows, with splendid vistas of fall foliage, graceful tree trunks and limbs in the cold and wildflowers from spring into summer.
This part of the trail doesn’t offer a complete escape from civilization because it’s down an embankment from traffic whizzing past on AZ-89, but if you can find it soothing, or at least tolerable, you’ll have a lovely time following the well-maintained gravel path as it takes you through tall grasses that seem to magically stop at its edge.
If you look over your shoulder you can see the rosy granite formations that dominate the rest of the lake’s shoreline as well as their reflections on its surface.
About half a mile down from the Watson Lake trailhead the trail swings to the east, crossing over the creek it’s named after on a red wooden bridge and into the northern edge of Watson Woods, the lush riparian preserve maintained by the Prescott Creeks organization.
You can take this opportunity to explore the paths that go deeper into the woods or continue straight ahead, where after crossing another bridge you will soon reach a brief, steeper climb up to the Peavine for an adventure into the Granite Dells and beyond.
LOWER GRANITE CREEK DISCOVERY TRAIL
The western trailhead branches off the southwestern edge of the parking lot at the south boat ramp at Watson Lake Park, where the Prescott Outdoors boat rental booths are set up during the summer season. It also can be reached from the Watson Lake Vista parking lot at the highway overlook off of AZ-89, just south of the Watson Lake Park Road roundabout. The eastern trailhead is on the Peavine Trail, about 1/3 of a mile north of the trailhead at the parking lot. Both can be reached from downtown Prescott by taking Gurley Street east to its intersection with AZ-89 and AZ-69. Turn left (north) onto AZ-89 and drive 2.3 miles to Prescott Lakes Parkway. To reach the Prescott Peavine trailhead, turn right onto the parkway, then left at Sundog Ranch Road. If you’re going to the Watson Lake Park entrance, continue driving another 2 miles to Watson Lake Park Road, turning right at the roundabout.
Parking fees: $3 (none at the Watson Lake Vista overlook)
Uses: Hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding
Distance: .08 miles
Level of difficulty: Easy
Elevation: Approx. 5,100 feet