Many an Arizona town have branded a nearby hill as its own by painting its first initial on its side. Prescott’s own “P” sits about 2 miles east of downtown on a peak officially known as Badger Mountain just below the KYCA radio tower, where it’s stood sentry over the city for decades.
Both landmark letters and transmission towers are put in places where they can be easily seen from a large area, so it makes sense that a trail on P Mountain would offer beautiful views of the surrounding Sierra Prieta and Bradshaw ranges and out to Prescott Valley and beyond.
It’s also an important connector within the area’s network of trails, the final link constructed for the 56-mile Prescott Circle Trail, made up of segments of City of Prescott and Prescott National Forest.
The City-maintained Badger Mountain Trail starts on the south side of State Highway 69, across from the end of the Sundog Trail in the rugged chaparral between Prescott Gateway Mall and the Frontier Village shopping center.
Zigzagging southeast along the side of the foothills, it meets its only adjacent parking lot in just over 4 miles, when the Turley-Badger connector trail comes in from the west from a dirt lot hidden behind a subdivision.
This is how most hikers enter the trail, turning to the right toward the “P” for more elevation gain, varied vegetation and the dramatic views. It’s also popular with mountain bikers, who use it as a less-difficult alternative to the nearby Boy Scout and Turley trails.
This segment continues the jagged path of switchbacks around the mountain.
It starts out with stunningly clear views of Granite Mountain and Thumb Butte, as well as the Granite Dells. Go just a little farther and you’ll be able to see Prescott Valley with the San Francisco Peaks (outside Flagstaff) on the far horizon. Then, about a mile past the trailhead you’ll see the landscape change to transitional oak and pine vegetation, offering more shade and variety to your uphill path.
Your viewsheds turn into a slideshow of valleys, ravines and piney peaks as you continue toward the City’s border with the national forest. It’s not much farther to the top of the mountain, near the “P” and the radio towers, and the best views of all.
From there it’s about a mile downward to where the trail ends at Ranch Trail No. 62, where you can continue toward the Lynx Lake Recreation Area if you wish.
Badger Mountain Trail
To reach the parking lot near the midpoint of the trail, head east from downtown on Gurley Street and turn right onto Overland Road, which is just before the Highway 69/89 interchange. Continue on Overland until you reach the stop sign at Butterfield Road. Turn left and go to the junction of Wagonwheel and Wells Fargo roads. Bear right and continue on Wells Fargo for one-fifth of a mile until the signed turnoff for the Turley Trail. The narrow dirt road reaches the parking lot after a short distance.
- Parking fees: None
- Uses: Hiking, mountain biking
- Distance: 6.77 miles
- Level of difficulty: Moderate
- Elevation: 5,510 feet to 6,308 feet