It’s possible that Acker Park is the most popular park in Prescott you’ve never been to.
It’s just a mile east of Courthouse Plaza but tucked between rambling neighborhoods that segue seamlessly into the 80 acres donated to the City by James S. Acker, who also inspired the December Acker Night fundraisers for music scholarships.
It’s been preserved as open space for people to take a leisurely hike and learn about the area’s vegetation and wildlife.
The educational opportunities are endless along the main loop trail, with signs identifying everything from oaks, ponderosas, pinyons and alligator junipers to banana yucca, cliffroses and skunkbush. Bluebird nesting boxes dot the southern end of the loop.
The loop’s main access is the trailhead where South Virginia Street dead ends at the northwest corner of the park. Users can cross the bridge over Granite Creek to reach the path, with the option of turning left onto the Hilltop Trail to reach the park’s highest point early in your journey or saving it for the end, by turning right on the Powerline Trail.
The Hilltop Trail weaves through lush shrubbery before approaching the top of the hill and a stunning vista of most of Prescott’s major peaks, including Thumb Butte, Granite Mountain, Badger Mountain, Williams Peak and even the San Francisco Peaks by Flagstaff on clear days.
Metal panoramic signs identify each peak, and you’ll also find a labyrinth laid out on top of the white granite at the summit.
Continuing south on the Ridge Trail, you’ll get familiar with Prescott’s eastern horizon and see many small signs bearing inspirational nature-related quotes from the likes of John Muir, John Burroughs and John Ruskin.
This is the best time of year to visit the park, as the trails gets muddy after winter rain and snow.