Prescott and Prescott Valley are surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, complete with granite mountains. We tackled three hikes while here; Granite Mountain Trail #261, Granite Mountain Hotshots Trail and Woodchute Trail.
Granite Mountain Trail #261
Showing us their new hometown, Hans and Lisa invited us to join them and friends Howard and Ann for this hike which ends near the mountain’s 7,626′ summit. The trail dipped in and out of a wash and passed a pile of massive granite boulders that give the place its name. These folks were moving along faster than we usually do, so we completed the 8.2-mile hike with a 1,654′ elevation gain in record time (for us).
Granite Mountain Hotshots Trail
This memorial trail honors the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who were trapped and perished in 2013 while fighting fast-moving flames. It was a fairly strenuous climb up Weaver Mountain Ridge before descending into the box canyon where the tragedy occurred:
Wildflowers helped lighten the mood, as we continued to learn the history of wildland firefighting and stories detailing the infamous Yarnell Hill fire:
Having previously seen the movie “Only the Brave” that featured The Granite Mountain Hotshots, we were reminded of what a tremendous job these folks do day in and day out with little recognition:
We continued less than a mile down a steep trail, approximately the same route the crew took for a better firefighting position but then ended up trapped by the fire. They were unable to see through the smoke or escape from the incredibly fast-moving flames.
The memorial consists of 19 gabions, one for each Hotshot, united by chains, representing their eternal bond. We took our time to pay respects and reflected on their fate and the life they gave to save others. It was a poignant and disquieting visit
Our final hike in the area was on one of Arizona’s 73 broad mountaintop peaks. It’s named for a wood chute that was constructed to supply lumber to the town of Jerome during its mining heyday. We almost ditched this hike because of cold wind and sleet that morning, but we’re glad we persisted because the weather improved and it turned out to be a wonderful adventure!
As we meandered along, the trees opened up and we started seeing views of Verde Valley, the red rocks of Sedona and the Mogollon Rim to the northeast. We also saw Chino Valley and Granite Mountain that we had hiked days before. Soon we were looking down on State Route 89A, the winding road that leads to and through Jerome:
I leave you with a brewing storm at the Mogollon Rim – time to head home from this hike!