Embry-Riddle Jan Alfano Trail – Great for Newbies

by Blake Herzog

The Embry-Riddle Jan Alfano Trail is a relatively flat route that zigs and zags through the scrubland south and east of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) and is considered an excellent training ground for mountain bikers and anyone else starting to explore the endless opportunities of Greater Prescott’s outdoor adventures.

Kids of all ages can tear through this stretch on the way to the Legacy and Brownlow trails of Pioneer Park or over to Willow Lake Park. Both ends of it tunnel under Pioneer Parkway and Willow Creek Road to give anxiety-free access to those who aren’t as comfortable on the busier streets of the area.

Traversing this little slice of chaparral gives you panoramic views of Granite Mountain to the west, Thumb Butte to the south and Mingus Mountain to the east, along with much smaller ridges for added contrast and breathtaking views.

This isn’t really a nature trail, as it veers past parking lots and auto dealerships, but you will get some nice views of the ERAU campus on the east end and the Pioneer Park ballfields and Willow Creek Dog Park on the west.

The elevation change on this single track trail is minimal but basically starts higher in the west and runs downhill as you head toward the basin where Willow Lake is located, with plenty of small hills and swerves to keep everybody interested.

You’ll be passing mostly through shrubbery that hugs the side of the trail, with a fair number of oak trees and a stray pine here and there. Overall there isn’t a whole lot of shade to be found along the route, so remember to bring extra water when coming out here in the summer.

This path maintained by the City of Prescott connects the Legacy Trail in Pioneer Park to the Willow Lake Trail in the park of the same name, much of it running through property owned by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Part of the Prescott Circle Trail, it was rerouted and extended in 2015 to allow for construction of a new ERAU dorm and to create a route geared to beginning mountain bikers. The western portion within Pioneer Park is named after the woman recognized as the founder of Yavapai County’s trail system.

It can be reached from downtown Prescott by traveling north on Montezuma Street, following it around as it becomes Whipple Street, then turning right (north) onto Willow Creek Road. To reach Pioneer Park turn left when you reach Commerce Drive, then turn right in front of Kayla’s Hands Playground and drive to the parking lot at the end of the road. To reach Willow Creek Park, stay on Willow Creek and turn right into the parking lot for the park and dog park. Parking fees: None Uses: Hiking, mountain biking Distance: 2.35 miles Level of difficulty: Easy Elevation: 5,162 feet to 5,276 feet

Parking fees: None
Uses: Hiking, mountain biking
Distance: 2.35 miles
Level of difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5,162 feet to 5,276 feet