Local Mountain Bikers Have More Choices Than Ever

Greater Prescott’s rocky, variable terrain is tailor-made for mountain biking, with plenty of trails that put riders in “attack position” and gives them a chance to “shred” with maximum skill, to borrow a couple bits of MTB lingo.  

The spectacular scenery is of course a huge draw, but even better for many is the workout that comes with it. It’s a full-body workout that burns fat more efficiently, builds muscle in your legs, torso and everywhere else, and strengthens your heart, especially going through tough, gnarly terrain.

The City of Prescott maintains more than 100 miles of trails open to bikers, hikers and (in most cases) horseback riders, so it can sometimes be tough to know which ones you should try, given how many rides you’ve gone on and what kind of challenge you’re looking for next.  

Chris Hosking, trails/natural parklands coordinator for City of Prescott, says bikers at all levels of experience can find courses that will train and challenge them with a great workout for their legs and core alike. 

For beginners — plenty of “easy” trails ideal for young and less experienced riders, such as the ever-popular Peavine, which is wide, flat and has very generous lines of sight.

“And so that’s our easiest. And then we’ve got easy trails, you know, around Willow Lake, on the south shore of Willow Lake all the way to the zoo area,” Hosking adds, including the Willow Lake and Willow Shoreline trails, which form the Willow Lake Loop. A few sections of these are low-water trails, inaccessible when the level rises.

For intermediate  riders — Hosking recommends the Spence Basin area, near the intersection of Iron Springs and Spence Spring roads. The City recently opened access to this section of Prescott National Forest, working with the Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance. 

Hosking emphasizes there are assets for all types of users, but this area was designed with this group in mind: “Mountain bikers always want to have more flowy trails, with a good line of sight, you know, whereas hikers typically want to go straight to the view.” 

Advanced riders — The Granite Dells, not surprisingly, have the most advanced and technical trails, Hosking said, with slick rock surfaces and extremely narrow paths at some points. 

“We have about 25 miles of trail in the Dells, and only if you’re very experienced should you be ready to tackle that area,”   Hosking says. 

Inexperienced users should also reconsider if they’re thinking about the Missing Link, Little Italy or connected trails in Spence Basin, Spruce Mountain or the Turley and Boyscout trails in Prescott National Forest.

Photo: Sean Underhill