No doubt, the town of Prescott is known for its numerous outdoor activities and hiking opportunities.
With such a well-known presence that ERAU even named dorms after it (T1 and T2), Thumb Butte is an ideal trail. Located in the Prescott National Forest, Thumb Butte Trail #33 is a moderate hike for people of all hiking backgrounds.
Hearing such appraisal in town, I too ventured out to the Thumb Butte. Once at the trailhead, I was instantly forced to make a decision that would greatly affect my hiking experience. Choosing to hike up the left or right route first, since it is a loop, would either be a more difficult steep climb or a nice gradual incline, respectively. Of course, representing the rebellious youth, I chose to start off with the difficult left side.
Honestly, the upwards half of the 2.5-mile loop was the ultimate thigh killer, paralleling the soreness one gets after leg day. The 700 ft elevation gain, fit into one mile of switchbacks, was no simple walk in the forest, pun intended. It was quite the struggle.
However, it was worth a quick sweat and soreness. The views on the climb up and opportunities to keep climbing higher were superb and greatly appreciated. Being a well-maintained concrete path, it was nice to see a chance to continue up an unbeaten path.
If you are considering hiking “Thumb Butt”, as I humorously call it, ensure you check the forecast prior. Living near the mountain, I have done this hike a couple times a month over the years and have made the mistake of hiking in wet and snowy climates; so, don’t follow my lead unless you enjoy involuntary sliding and sloshy shoes. Overall, as proven by my consistent return to the mountain, I recommend this trail for a day when you have the desire to hike but may not have the time to take on a longer adventure.
Glad you like the hike up Thumb Butte. The then local Yavapai Apache called it the “Crouching Lion”, which fits from some angles. Dr. Chen and I have been doing it for 20 years now. Our Yorkie Papri loves the opportunity to follow up interesting smells. All the best. Dr. J, Prof Emeritus