Just one of the vistas along the Aspen Creek Trail. Photo by Cheryl Hartz
Aspen Creek is dry, and aspens are absent altogether, but that doesn't preclude a beautiful hike on the Prescott National Forest's Aspen Creek Trail No. 48. Allowing hikers, horseback riders and bicyclists, the trail stretches three miles (one-way) at an average elevation of nearly 6,700 feet through ponderosa pine, oak and manzanita.
A moderate hike, the trail winds around Mount Francis with plenty of ups and downs after an initial short, steep climb. It meets with Trails 9415 and 260.
Spectacular views of Spruce Mountain, the San Francisco Peaks, the Bradshaw Mountains and Mount Union, the highest point in Yavapai County, will awe trail users.
The area is prime wildlife habitat, and has become increasingly attractive to deer and even elk because several years ago parts were treated with herbicides to improve grass production.
Directions: From downtown Prescott, take Montezuma (White Spar) south 1.1 miles and turn right on Copper Basin Road. Continue for 4.7 miles to Forest Road 9401L, marked by a sign on a tree to the left. (The pavement ends after a little more than 3 miles, so you have about 1.5 miles of gravel road.) FR 9401L drops steeply to cross Aspen Creek then rises to a small parking area near the northern trailhead of Trail No. 48. Without a high clearance vehicle, it's best to park on the roadside.
Hints: Bring water. Pack out what you pack in. For more information, call the Prescott National Forest Bradshaw Ranger District at 928-443-8000.