by Kelly Tolbert, Recreation Coordinator, City of Prescott
As early as late this year, outdoor recreation enthusiasts will have yet another thrilling option within the City of Prescott’s trail portfolio, also known as the Mile High Trail System. A recent purchase of 160 acres within what is called Storm Ranch North was made possible through the open space/streets sales tax money set aside by the city council in 2016 from part of a 1 percent sales tax approved by voters in 2000 for open space and streets.
Trails and Natural Parklands Coordinator Chris Hosking began trail construction along with the volunteer Over the Hill Gang in mid-February on what will become a 6.25-mile system of trails traversing Boulder Creek, a seasonal creek and about 0.8 mile section paralleling the existing Peavine Trail.
The new trails will vary in technicality, aiming to provide something for everyone. Some will offer gradual climbs, and others will be highly technical offering exciting features for mountain bikers. Huge granite boulders sprinkled with sparkling white quartz and set among breathtaking views, these trails are destined to delight.
Consistent with many of the city’s trails, the new Storm Ranch trails will provide opportunities for greater connectivity to neighboring communities. Proximity of this parcel to Arizona state land will allow for greater connectivity to include a series of trails, starting with Peavine and eventually summiting Glassford Hill.
Construction of these new trails will primarily fall on the Over the Hill Gang, a dedicated group of volunteers who meet every Monday for general projects and a smaller group that meets on Fridays for more specialized work. Their work comes after the trail is designed and carefully planned by Hosking, who is constantly keeping one step ahead of this workforce.
Each trail construction project comes with unique challenges and Storm Ranch is no exception. Anyone who frequents the Peavine knows that the Ranch cows are savvy enough to find their way around fencing and make their way either onto the trail or into the bed of Watson Lake.
Connectivity is not the only asset to this new trail system, as the Granite Dells in general, are crucial to the city’s tourism and economic development. Historically, the Granite Dells have provided various recreation opportunities ranging from rock climbing to swimming. After over a year of negotiations with Storm Ranch North land owners Ed and Virginia Seaver, Eleanor Huddleston and James Harvey, the results will ensure preservation of the pristine granite boulders.With terrain much like the Constellation Trail area, located just north of the Granite Dells, this recent purchase is twice the acreage, but only one-third of the entire Storm Ranch North, which totals 490 acres.
Trails users are reminded to be mindful of the rugged terrain and exposed conditions. As always, bring plenty of water and sunscreen and wear proper attire. It is always a good idea to bring a snack.
While the formal opening of the new Storm Ranch trails will not likely occur until the end of the year, keep in mind this area is still under construction and may not have adequate signage posted. All trail users are welcome, but this area is not recommended for inexperienced horses.
For more information on the Mile High Trail System, the Over the Hill Gang, or other aspects of the recreation services department please visit prescott-az.gov.