For a true western experience that combines rugged high-desert terrain with refreshments in an authentic historic train-depot setting, Prescott, Arizona offers a classic duo: A strenuous hike in the Granite Mountain Wilderness Area, capped off with a fitting reward at the nearby Iron Springs Cafe.
Located west of the city, the wilderness area features a network of trails that zigzag through the granite boulders that make up the foothills of the massive Granite Mountain, Prescott’s largest and most prominent promontory.
And located conveniently along the way is the historic Hillside Depot building, which was moved to the spot decades ago, and now serves as the charming Iron Springs Cafe.
Among the most popular of the wilderness area’s routes is the Little Granite Mountain Trail, which begins from a trailhead located about eight miles from downtown Prescott along Iron Springs Road.
The trek is rugged and the climb is steep, but the payoffs are rich. Alligator junipers, agave cacti, and massive rock formations crowd the first mile or so of the trail.