Hiking in Prescott

Prescott, AZ

In our last couple of blogs we were hiking around and kayaking on Watson Lake in the rocks of Granite Dells.  Across Rte. 89, which runs right through Granite Dells, there is another similar man-made body of water called Willow Lake.  You can’t hike all the way around the lake right now due to the high water level that covers the  trail on the east end.  So we drove around the lake to the northwest side to pick up a series of trails through the rocks.

High water into the trees looking to the southwest

Like nearby Watson Lake, the south side trail of Willow Lake is flat, while a series of trails on the north side go through the rocks of Granite Dells.  We hiked on the trail that stayed near the shoreline so we could enjoy the great views of the lake.

After a couple of miles we dropped into a gorge just below Willow Dam, which creates the lake behind it.

After passing by the dam we began climbing up the rocks on the other side of the gorge.

As we climbed higher into the rocks, we could see that there are two parts to the Willow Dam.


The next day we drove just a couple of miles up Rte. 89 to visit the Granite Gardens Trail.  This is a short hike, less than two miles, that weaves through some interesting areas of Granite Dells.  The first interesting feature was a long set of stairs taking us up a rocky canyon.

A veteran hiker rests along the trail


Claret Cup Hedgehog Cacti must love the altitude here, as they grow in abundance.

Another interesting section of this hike goes through a narrow slot which required removal of our packs.

The trail then dips under some boulders in an area known as the Grotto.


The Granite Garden Trail is a great one if you want to do some interesting rock climbing without hiking for a long distance.  In under two miles you get some great up and down hiking through very different rock formations…an adult playground.

On our last day in Prescott we headed to the historic downtown to check out the area around the courthouse.   Prescott is the county seat of Yavapai County so it has a courthouse of significant size.  As with many small towns,  the court house is the center of the town with many shops and restaurants surrounding it.

Our visit was on a beautiful Saturday afternoon and the streets around the courthouse were filled with Harleys.

We really enjoyed our stay in the Prescott area.  The town is now on our lists of possible locations to settle down when the time comes and it warrants a return visit in the near future.  But now it’s time to head on down the road to our next adventure.  Next up is a stay in Cottonwood for some hiking in the Sedona area nearby.

More on that later . . .

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33 Responses to Hiking in Prescott

  1. debbiemc14 says:

    Just beautiful! We have friends that live not far from there. I see some hiking and kayaking in a couple of weeks. Thanks for the nice write-ups.

  2. I knew you would love Prescott! There are so many interesting areas where homes are built right into the rocks, it would be a great place to live. I just wish it were a little bit wetter there. Can’t wait to see what you get up to on your next stop.

    I’m pretty sure the cottonwoods with the cormorant rookery at Willow Lake were in the water on your visit.

    • placestheygo says:

      Lisa, we did those beautiful houses that were built in among the boulders from our lunch spot high over everything:) Nice place! As were driving around the lake I commented that I thought the rookery was out there in those trees surrounded by water!!

  3. pmbweaver says:

    I love those hikes over the granite rocks. Those things are huge! The one picture of John going up the rock reminds me of when we climbed Enchanted Rock in Texas Hill Country. Straight up…nothing to hold on to. A bit exciting.

    Love the blue of the water and the rock peeping out the top.

    We had the best time in Prescott. We had lunch at The Palace with our friends, Duane and Louise. The funny thing is…we are having lunch with them again today…hehe. This time we are meeting in Angleton, TX. No idea what that town is all about.

    • placestheygo says:

      The granite rocks were so unique and ever turn brought new patterns and designs within the rocks. I was disappointed that the photos weren’t better. We did go by the Palace but that town square area was just mobbed so we headed one street over to have lunch away from the masses.

  4. Janna says:

    I like Prescott, the cowboy not so much but then he doesn’t like any “big” city! One not so great factor about Prescott is the almost 10% sales tax.

    • placestheygo says:

      We wouldn’t want the cowboy to be over come with this “big” city! Haha! This is what attracted us to the town, lots of stores but it didn’t appear to be a city. I guess we didn’t realize the sales tax thing!

  5. Gay says:

    What awesome hikes…we haven’t visited Prescott, but it is definitely on the list now! The Granite Dells are calling my name! I can’t wait for Joe to be released from the doctor so our travels can get back to “go wherever we want to go”. Lots of plans were cancelled for this year! Anyway, you are now headed to Sedona and then I am guessing Moab…two of the most beautiful places on earth!

    Enjoy your time…take lots of pictures of those wonderful red rocks to share with us…happy trails!

    • placestheygo says:

      Oh, yes, Gay, those rocks are most definitely calling your name!! You and Joe will love the hikes we did:) Hope you are soon back to wandering where ever you please:) Friday we are heading to Bluff, UT a favorite hiking area and then finally back to Portal and Moab on the 13th. I am so excited to be returning finally!! We have joining us so it will be fun to show them around.

  6. Mary says:

    I’ll have to check out that hike when we go again. Prescott is a great place, and I have thought it would be nice to settle there. Hubby doesn’t agree though, so we are still searching.

  7. We know several people who moved to Prescott after retirement and just love it. It does have a Trader Joe’s and Sprouts, but the problem we see is that it’s too hot in summer and too cold in winter. We did enjoy the hiking around there, though.

    • placestheygo says:

      Temperatures sure do mess up a good retirement place. Prescott gets in the high 80’s in the summer but with lower humidity it won’t be as bad as the east and the winters do get some light snow but with average temps in the 50’s it doesn’t stay around long. Tough to find the perfect place with mountains and hiking and consistent perfect temps:) We are still looking:)

  8. Love, Love, Love the rocks!!

  9. Suzanne says:

    I am so surprised to see that water level! I hiked the entire circumference when I was there last September, and the water was a long way down from the trail! I am sorry I missed that Granite Garden Trail. My kinda playground!

    • placestheygo says:

      Friends were also in Prescott in the fall and didn’t have any trouble hiking around. I guess this is typical for the spring but the people in the RV Park office did say they had gotten a lot of rain in the last few weeks. The lakes were beyond full for us:)

  10. Beautiful! We have never been to Prescott and heard good things about it. Its interesting that you said you might want to settle there. One of the state we considered retiring is AZ and Prescott was on the list. Given your good report we will check it out.
    Love those granite rocks and that kind of hike when you squeeze in yourself to get through.

    • placestheygo says:

      Yes, you must add Prescott to your list. There is so much hiking of all levels. The city has completed 48 miles of the 52 hiking miles that are planned. And there are so many neat places within a days drive. Very nice town:)

  11. Not sure about that picture of John disappearing into the Grotto. Hope he got out ok.
    We liked Prescott too. Good choice! And I remember hearing on the news how to pronounce it. It’s Preskit like biscuit!

  12. LuAnn says:

    Those trails look amazing! I can’t believe we have never hiked in Prescott but it is definitely on the list now. Thanks for the great post! 🙂

  13. Sherry says:

    I went to one of the nicest Environmental Spirituality Conferences I’ve ever been to in Prescott and have had a fondness for it every since. Great to see the terrific hiking in the area. I especially love the Granite Gardens trail with the neat squeezes and beautiful claret cups. Favorite picture though is the one of you on the bridge at Willow Lake. What rivers were dammed for these two lakes? I think I may be THE only person who has never been to Sedona so I’m really looking forward to your hiking there.

    • placestheygo says:

      The lakes are actually formed from two creeks. John thinks it is Willow Creek and Granite Creek. The lakes get much smaller as the summer progresses. We hit them during the high season. The City Trail map shows the lake areas when full and at the usual height. You really must visit Sedona but not the week before Easter!!! It is crazy!

  14. Erin says:

    Picturesque and fun … you picked some great trails to hike in Prescott.

  15. Ingrid says:

    Our diesel mechanic is located in Dewey. We just returned from a day trip to Prescott and Watson Lake today after dropping off the F250 for work. We too have talked about Prescott as a place to settle ever since my brother ALMOST moved there. He settled on Grand Junction CO instead. Both places are in consideration 🙂

  16. jimandbarb says:

    Looks like a great place to hike! The trails and lakes are beautiful, love the narrow passages.

  17. Laurel says:

    Wow, you must have really loved Prescott if it made your list of possible places to settle (in the very distant future, right?). It’s been about 20 years since I was there, but I remember really liking it and wanting to return. The Granite Garden trail definitely looks like a fun adult playground!

  18. Jodee Gravel says:

    Amazing, and wonderful, to see any place in the Southwest with “extra” water! Love the veteran hiker – because nothing says tough trail like a park bench on the side 🙂

  19. rommel says:

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous photos. Arizona never disappoint to astound me whenever I read blogs about it.

  20. Pam Leonard says:

    That’s a lot of rocks to walk across out there! Cool place.

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