by Blake Herzog
Our area is renowned for trails that climb up and down mountains, cross the high desert, overlook inviting lakes and show the way to isolated meadows and canyons.
But don’t write off the more urban stretches that often are just as lush and inviting as the more rural ones.
The Granite Creek Trail segment of the Greenways Trails System follows the banks of Granite Creek between A.C. Williams Granite Creek Park down to Mile High Middle School (formerly Prescott High School).
Another branch extends from the park westward along Miller Creek to the Prescott Rodeo Grounds, longtime home of the World’s Oldest Rodeo®. The gravel paths throughout its 2.5-mile length are shaded with cottonwoods, elms and other towering trees that offer an escape from the bustling streets.
There are eight official entry points onto the trail system from the surrounding streets, so it’s easily reachable by anyone using it for transportation or recreation. It’s a lovely way to witness the natural and human history of central Prescott.
Plaques and murals along the route fill passers-by in on many of the details as the seasonal beauty and the size of the creek shifts from month to month. Footbridges allow users to follow the trail between creek banks, and an old railway bridge stands at the entrance to Granite Creek Park.
This is an easy trail with an elevation gain of about 60 feet when you walk north to south along Granite Creek. It’s a great place for kids, grownups and grandparents to walk or bike together, but you can also get a decent workout in by doing sprints on foot or wheels, taking advantage of the shade provided all along the greenbelt.
Don’t let all the shade trees lull you into complacency about bringing water with you, especially in the summer, but these trails are a beautiful year-round destination for everyone.
The trail system connects most of the jewels of downtown Prescott, running a block and a half west of Whiskey Row and Courthouse Plaza on the Granite Creek portion and just steps away from Sharlot Hall Museum. Shopping and dining destinations line the path until you reach A.C. Williams Granite Creek Park’s 21 acres of open space with a splash pad (open Memorial Day through Labor Day), playground, picnic areas, half-mile trail and bicycle pump track. Another branch extends west from the park along Miller Creek to the Prescott Rodeo Grounds, home to the World’s Oldest Rodeo®, Yavapai County Fair and other events. The trail’s path through downtown makes it easily accessible along Granite Creek, with multiple trailheads. The Miller Creek leg has just one trail head between the park and the rodeo grounds but can be reached from parking lots along Miller Valley Road and Sheldon Street.
Parking fees: None
Uses: Hiking, biking, horseback riding
Distance: 2.5 miles (one-way)
Level of difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5,300 feet to 5,366 feet