Senator Highway is a gateway to some of the most verdant forests the Prescott area has to offer — Goldwater Lake, Groom Creek, several piney summer camps and tons of trees.
There are many trails here, and the Watershed Trail (No. 299) might provide the best workout you’ll find in its rolling pathway that climbs to the top of a ridge with a sweeping overlook to the surrounding topography.
The main trailhead conveniently is placed just off the highway only about a minute’s drive past Goldwater Lake Road. Right away you’ll be on a roller-coaster walk that climbs up a scrubby ridge dotted with pinyon and juniper, after half a mile reaching Deer Lick Spring and its concrete trough. The trough sometimes contains water for horses to drink.
Beyond this point the vegetation gets taller and denser, with Gambel oaks and ponderosas dominating the habitat and, between them, some glimpses of a panoramic view over the Bradshaw Mountains.
Another half a mile past the spring you’ll reach the Seven-Mile Gulch Trail (No. 9854), which links to the Ranch Trail (No. 62) and travels about 2.5 miles farther east to Walker Road and the Lynx Lake Recreation Area.
If you stick with the Watershed, after a rare level spot it takes a takes a sharp turn south from the junction and follows Spruce Ridge for almost 2 miles, weaving through more ups and downs past more ponderosas, which are home to many species of birds.
A powerline tower marks the spot where you’ll be climbing once again for the last half a mile until reaching Forest Road 52A (Spruce Mountain Road). From here, enjoy the panorama of Mounts Union and Tritle, Maverick Mountain and even the San Francisco Peaks.
Afterward, you can go back the way you came, follow the unpaved road west to Senator Highway or east toward the summit of Spruce Mountain.