Trails

Central Arizona's mild climate, stunning scenery, and world-class trails beckon residents and visitors alike to enjoy the great outdoors year-round. With motorized, non-motorized, and wilderness trails, Prescott National Forest provides outstanding opportunities for hikers, mountain bikers, horse riders, and OHV enthusiasts of all skill levels. 

Special events, such as mountain bike races and OHV events, occur on the Forest's trails. Public input and volunteer participation help shape the world-class trails system on Prescott National Forest today.  

Some of the trails you'll visit on the forest are multiple-use, meaning that hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders annd ATVers may all share the same trail. A basic etiquette rule is Wheels Yield to Heels. Keep this in mind when approaching other trail users. Bicyclists or ATVers yield to all other users while hikers, walkers, yield to horseback riders. Please visit our Trail Etiquette: Sharing the Trail webpage for more information on respectful and responsible trails use.

Trail etiquette sign: cyclists yield to horses and hikers, and hikers yield to horses.

Report Trail Conditions: Help us manage trails for your safety and enjoyment by reporting your experience to the Prescott Trails Safety Coalition.

 

Wet Soil Hazards: Visitors Asked to Help Prevent Damage to Roads and Trails after Wet Weather

Travel of any kind, motorized of non-motorized, can cause damage to roads and trails during and after heavy rain and snow events. Please refrain from using trails if your mode of travel leaves deep marks or ruts.  This Wet Soils Hazard Map (3 MB PDF) shows which parts of the Forest are most and least susceptible to damage.

  

Non-motorized Trails

Prescott National Forest offers excellent opportunities for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians with nearly 800 miles of scenic trails--450 of which are open to cyclists--and contains portions of the Prescott Circle Trail, a 50-mile loop around the City of Prescott.  Use of electronic bicycles (e-bikes) is not allowed on non-motorized trails on the Forest.

Wilderness 

If a backcountry experience is your pleasure, there are eight Wilderness Areas totaling more than 104,000 acres located entirely or partially within the Prescott National Forest.  Within wilderness, travel is limited to foot or horseback, no mechanized equipment or vehicles are allowed.

 

Motorized Trails 

Prescott National Forest has nearly 400 miles of trails designed for motorized travel.  Two day-use sites, Hayfield Draw and Alto Pit, offer open areas to ride and there are challenging trails for everyone from beginners to expert riders.  Alto Pit OHV Campground is located within an open ride area surrounded by trails designed for off-road enthusiasts.  Of the 1300 miles of road on the forest, over 1200 miles are open to off-highway vehicles.

Electronic Bicycles (E-bikes)

For information about e-bikes on the Forest, please see Use of Electronic Bicycles (E-bikes) on Prescott National Forest

Travel Management Rule and Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

The Travel Management Rule (TMR) was implemented on Prescott NF in 2009.  TMR is a federal rule that requires all national forests and grasslands to designate a system of roads, trails, and areas for motorized use, and to prohibit all motor vehicle use off the designated system.  Travel Management balances the public's enjoyment of motorized travel while caring for the land and its natural resources. 

  • Free Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) that indicate what roads, trails, and areas are open to motor vehicle travel are available at each district office and online.  It is your resoponsibility to ensure you are driving on an open road or trail or within and open area, and the free MVUM will provide you with this information.  Follow the link above to download a copy.

 

Volunteering

Volunteers are the backbone of the Forest's Trails program, and there are numerous ways for you to get involved if you're interested in helping take care of Prescott National Forest's outstanding trails system.  For more information contact Jason Williams by email at: jason.a.williams@usda.gov, or by phone at: 928-777-2216.

  • The Over the Hill Gang volunteers from 7:50am to Noon on Thursdays.  They meet at the Bradshaw Ranger Station at 344 S. Cortez Street (actually around the corner on Aubrey St. near the gate into the back parking lot).
  • Verde Valley Trail Volunteers meet Wednesdays at 8:00am at the Verde Ranger Station, 300 East Highway 260 in Camp Verde, and work until 12:00 noon.  
  • Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance sponsors races, group rides, and several trail work days throughout the year.  PMBA also takes care of Ranch Trail #62 through the Prescott National Forest Adopt-a-Trail program.
  • Prescott National Forest Adopt-a-Trail Program: Both organizations and individuals can adopt trails.  With approximately 850 miles of trails to maintain, Prescott National Forest continues to seek volunteers who are interested in adopting their favorite trail(s).  For more information please visit the Prescott National Forest Adopt-a-Trail webpage where you’ll find detailed instructions for how to go about adopting your own trail!
  • Certified Volunteer Trail Crew Leaders:  On May 21, 2016, the Forest held a well-attended and successful first annual Volunteer Crew Leader Training.  In addition to attending this training, Volunteer Trail Crew Leaders are observed organizing and leading their own volunteer work day before gaining certification.  This exciting development in the Trails program has significantly increased the Forest's capacity for trail maintenance.  For information on the next training, contact Jason Williams by phone at: 928-777-2220.

 

Backpacking

The Forest's eight Wilderness Areas are ideal places to backpack.  Please visit our Backpacking webpages and contact us if you can't find the information you need to plan your backpacking trip.

 

Horse Riding & Camping

While most trails on the Forest are open to equestrians, some are more suited to a peaceful ride than others.  The Forest's eight Wilderness Areas are ideal places to ride horses as mechanized equipment is not allowed in Wilderness so there are no OHVs or cyclists that may spook horses on these trails.  Horse camping opportunities are plentiful on the Forest.  Groom Creek Horse Camp is a specialized campground for equestrians only that is available by reservation, and horse riders frequent the trails in the area.  Trailhead #307 is located across the road from Groom Creek Horse Camp and offers day-use parking for equestrians to access area trails including the Groom Creek Loop Trail.  In Granite Basin Recreation Area, Cayuse Equestrian Trailhead  has plenty of room for trailers to park and turn around, and adjacent trails are popular with horse riders.

 

Easy/Accessible Trails

Most developed recreation sites on the Forest are fully- or partially-paved and accessible to people who use wheelchairs. 

Accessible trails include:

Easy trails: A complete list of "easy" trails would be difficult to compile.  The beginning of of even some challenging trails is easy for a stretch.  If you're looking for a trail to hike with small children or people with limited mobility, it is a good idea to visit the trail's webpage and see if the description gives clues to its difficulty level.  Our most popular trails include this information.  If you have questions about more remote trails, that may have limited information on the website, please contact us.  Easy trails that are not listed with the accessible trails above, include:  

 

Loop Hikes/Rides

Prescott National Forest has numerous interconnected trails across the forest.  The Prescott Circle Trail crosses multiple jurisdictional boundaries as it circumnavigates the City of Prescott.  Descriptions on individual trails' webpages note which trails interconnect. If you have questions about loop trails and can't find the information on the website, please contact us.  

 

 





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/prescott/recreation/?cid=FSEPRD512937