March Through History on Old Military Trail

If you’re looking for an adventurous, uncrowded hike that will cover a lot of ground and is accessible to less-experienced hikers, consider this nearly 12-mile trail at the northern end of Prescott National Forest, nearer to Seligman than to Prescott.

The Old Military Trail follows the route of a supply road used by the Army during conflicts with the Hualapai tribe in the 1860s.

The trail begins near the Walnut Creek Center for Research and Education, a former ranger station now used for study by researchers and students from Prescott College and Northern Arizona University.

You will first encounter rolling hills covered with pinyon and juniper, providing you with a gentle but consistent workout.

After the first couple of miles, the route shifts to the east and begins to climb sharply until reaching a mountain pass, the highest point of the trail. This is where you may see evidence of the trail being widened to allow wagons to pass through the area.

This will be the most demanding stretch — the rest of the trail gradually eases downhill. Once it enters the Pine Creek drainage area you will start walking through denser ponderosa forest.

Eventually you will reach Forest Route 7, which can be used as a midway access point to enter or leave the trail if you’re only wanting to do half of it or turn back for a round trip of approximately 11 miles.

You’ll find woodsy canyons and wide-open meadows for the last 5 or so miles of the trail, providing some gorgeous scenery as you continue downhill until reaching the trail’s end at the two small reservoirs at Happy Camp Tank. You can have someone pick you up here or double back for even more adventure on this off-the-beaten-path path!