By Blake Herzog
The quest by local governments to buy land on and around Glassford Hill to form the core of a regional park is expected to reach its first milestone this fall with an auction on the Yavapai County Courthouse steps.
The Town of Prescott Valley, City of Prescott and Yavapai County are pooling $3.2 million with $3.5 million from the Arizona state budget to purchase 3,500 acres of Arizona State Land Department-held land located in the two municipalities, including the hill and stretching west to the Prescott Peavine Trail, Prescott Valley Deputy Town Manager Ryan Judy said.
The process to preserve this land began in 1998 and led to an intergovernmental agreement between the entities signed in May 2022.
The vision for Glassford Dells Regional Park is to protect the land from housing development and build trails for hiking, mountain biking and equestrian use, as well as other types of recreation and habitat for local wildlife. The land to be auctioned this fall includes two-thirds of the land targeted for preservation, with Prescott Valley buying 1,380 acres and Prescott buying 960 acres.
Save the Dells and other local groups also support development of the park, which is expected to take several years before many of the trails and other attractions are in place.
Prescott Valley has created a steering committee of 15 residents with twice-monthly public meetings to help guide development of Glassford Hill and its surroundings. This likely will include at least one trail exclusively for downhill mountain bikers and one for hikers and other users. These will be in addition to the existing Glassford Hill Summit Trail but narrower single-track trails that will leave a smaller footprint.
The Town could pursue developing a downhill mountain biking park on Glassford Hill. An “adventure area” with a zipline and other activities, bicycle pump track, amphitheater, archery range and picnic sites are among the other amenities being considered. The City of Prescott is planning new trails west of the hill that will link it to the Iron King, Peavine and Storm trails.
When combined with adjacent open space including Watson Lake and Willow Lake parks and parcels expected to be donated by Seaver Living Trust and Arizona Eco Development, the regional park will cover most of the Granite Dells and Glassford Hill as a tract of open space in the heart of the Greater Prescott area.
Local government and business advocates see it as a potential economic driver attracting eco-tourism and reducing their reliance on housing growth for revenue.