the network of trails that constitute Prescott’s National Forest, the 7.9 mile
Granite Mountain trail is a great option to hike. Driving past the Prescott
Walmart and Starbucks, this trailhead is located roughly 20 minutes from
campus. I personally enjoy this hike for the peace and quiet it provides, with
minimal foot traffic, especially in the scorching heat of the summer season. The
breathtaking views you are rewarded with at the top of the mountain aren’t too
Contrary to my previous hike at Thumb Butte, Granite Mountain is quite a long and more rigorous trek; so much so, that I was sweating at the bottom of the hike and chilled by the heavy wind at the highest climax of the path. I prefer Granite Mountain over Thumb Butte simply because Granite Mountain offers more opportunities to climb and explore when reaching the top of the trail, unlike Thumb Butte that is blocked off with signs and fences.
With an elevation of 1,656 ft. and scarce shade, the Granite Mountain trail can be either a relaxing morning hike or the next test in expanding your hiking endurance, depending on your skill level. No matter your abilities, I highly recommend trying out the Granite Mountain trail. Make sure to pack lots of water!
Arriving in Prescott, many college students experience a slower, traditional small-town vibe. Yet, when Christmas or patriotic holidays roll around, Prescott awakens. It is a festive Hallmark town, colored with cheer and décor. This 4th of July was no different. Drawing people from all over Arizona, Prescott was bustling with numerous events, like the World’s Oldest Rodeo, the 4th of July Parade, Northern Arizona’s Annual Tattoo Fest, and, of course, a fireworks show.
To kick off the weekend, Prescott hosted the World’s Oldest Rodeo. Surprisingly, this was a culture shock like no other, a country culture shock if you will. I was not prepared, cowboy hat and boot-less. In awe, I watched as cowboy after cowboy competed in various horse-riding and animal lassoing events. Many times, I had to Google the competition I was watching, for I had never seen such a thing. But, like the large crowd of country folk in attendance, I was entertained and thoroughly enjoyed my time.
The annual 4th of July Parade processed down the streets of the downtown Courthouse Square, ultimately testing my parallel parking skills. Hundreds of Prescott locals showed up to support our veterans, lining the streets with red, white, and blue. The streets were overflowing with retro cars, local law enforcement, motorcycles, and tons of floats, from our own Golden Eagles Flight team’s float to a Democratic float, sporting a huge cutout poster of President Biden. If this puts into context how busy it was, I had to risk getting kicked by a flipping cheerleader just to cross the street for a coffee.
Unbeknownst to most, the Northern Arizona Annual Tattoo Fest was taking place at the Prescott Resort and Casino. Although daunting at first glance, the fest was a creative chaos; the air filled with the nonstop buzz of the needle as people were getting tattooed left and right. After spending many hours browsing the line of booths, I left the resort reflecting on all the life stories that were shared and souvenirs I collected. It was a welcoming environment, and I’m appreciative of this glimpse into the tattoo world.
To complete the weekend, the fireworks show went off over Watson Lake. While the fireworks were grand and explosive, the fair-like activities prior were more enjoyable in my opinion. Since the pandemic, I have forgotten how the simple activity of picnicking with friends could be so fun. And, the grand finale of firework burst after firework burst made the trek back to the car in the dark worth it.
Overall, Prescott’s support and applaudable effort in celebrating this holiday weekend was a pleasure to partake in. Growing up in a city, I do miss the hustle and bustle of typical metropolitan life. Seeing the town rise to the challenge made me appreciate the community we are a part of, here, in Prescott, Arizona.
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
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.