Prescott’s most charming trail

Whenever I hike the Peavine Trail in Prescott, Arizona, two questions come to mind: How can so many amazing features be packed into 5.5 miles? And why aren’t more people using it?

As my hometown trail, the Peavine has been on my radar for a long time. I’ve hiked it in every season, and I’ve checked out all of the “white-dot trails” that lead off of the main trail into the spectacular Granite Dells.

Certainly, the trail has grown in popularity through the years. It is a staple for locals out for a stroll and an increasing draw for tourists. Still, on a recent Sunday afternoon – under partly cloudy skies, with temps in the high 60s – I saw no more than a dozen other hikers and bikers as I slowly ambled along an eight-mile round trip.

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I have to say – this trail has something for everyone: A lively history as one of Arizona’s first rail routes; a smooth, wide surface with a gentle grade; a great location just a few miles from downtown Prescott; and stunning views of not just the orange-hued granite formations of the Dells, but also of the blue waters of Watson Lake.

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I especially enjoy the variety of vegetation of the high-desert landscape.

Cacti here …

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Pine trees there …

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And grassy wildflowers all along the way.

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Oh, I can’t forget the mossy riparian areas in the sometimes-dry creeks – a benefit of an especially wet winter.

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Even though the Peavine is a treat, it is in the rugged network of trails that branches off the main trail that I tend to find the real treasures. Nicknamed the “white-dot trails” because of the trusty paint spots that point the way, the trails lace through the sea of granite that makes up the iconic Dells.

There are countless routes – all well marked with signs and colorful maps.

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You can’t go wrong with any of the choices, but on this day I chose the Secret Cove Trail as a relatively quick way to get lake access. Down a ravine, over a shelf of granite, and there it was – the tranquil water of Watson Lake’s Secret Cove.

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The water of the cove was still as glass, but as I rounded a bend on the trail I heard the delightful sound of rushing water. I soon found the source at a small, dilapidated dam – overflowing with water.

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It was a rare sight, I knew, and a wonderful way to cap off my Sunday afternoon hike.

The Peavine Trail is a rails-to-trails route located in Prescott, Arizona. The main trailhead is located off Sundog Ranch Road. To get there from downtown Prescott, head east on Gurley Street for three miles. Take Highway 89 north for three miles to Prescott Lakes Parkway, and turn east (right). Take the first left off of Prescott Lakes Parkway onto Sundog Ranch Road. The Peavine Trailhead is on the left. There is a $3 parking fee.

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