I don’t think my mom understands what Labor Day means. While lots of folks were resting and relaxing, she picked out a long hike in Prescott for us to do. She heard good things about the Groom Creek Trail, so off went. Originally, we were going to stay up in Prescott and camp, but our neighborhood roads are being paved. This meant we couldn’t park the camper on the road to set up.
Anyway, Prescott is quite doable for a day trip, and this trail is extremely easy to get to. We took I-17 north to Hwy 69 toward Prescott and stayed on that until Mt. Vernon where we took a left. Mt. Vernon turns into the Senator Highway, and Groom Greek is on your left. Just look for Camp Wamatochick signs and turn left on Wamatochick. This is the trailhead parking lot. It’s free, has human restrooms and has overflow parking if needed. With traffic, it took us about two hours from North Phoenix.
FYI – apparently Camp Wamatochick is a kid’s camp where they get to participate in all sorts of fun activities. It isn’t a typical camp ground but more of a retreat center.
The trail is also called #307, and you will follow those signs as you hike. We read this was a high-traffic trail, but it wasn’t too busy, especially for a holiday weekend. This is a loop trail, but we weren’t up for the full 8.7 miles, especially with the heat. Unfortunately, Prescott wasn’t as cool as we hoped. Our goal would be the lookout, which is 3.5 miles up and 3.5 miles back. This meant we went toward the left.
The trail is rated moderate because it is a steady climb up. We immediately appreciated the shade of the forest as we climbed. The higher we got, we started to have some views of Prescott, the Bradshaw mountains, and all the way to Flagstaff. We assume a fire came through as we encountered areas with no shade at all, and these sections were hot. Our pace slowed way down with temps in the high 90s.
When in the shade, we noticed some really cool trees. Dad said they were Alligator Bark Juniper trees. I’ve actually seen an alligator up close, and I can attest that the bark does indeed look scaly! They are native to the Southwest and can live up to 500 years. The male plants produce ½-inch cones and the female plants produce ½-inch whitish blue berries containing two-to-six seeds. Be sure to check them out.
We met some folks coming down who said the top was “okay,” but if you wanted a real view, you would need to go to the fire outlook where you would get a 360-degree view. We were about a half mile from the top at this point, and we opted to pause, eat some lunch and assess how we were doing. One thing I love about my mom is she always has my back. She could tell I was not happy with the heat. Could we have pushed that extra half mile up and back – yes, but at what cost? So rather than endanger my well-being (and paws), we called it. We decided to head back down the 3.5 miles. Mom was low on water as well – a good reminder to always pack plenty of water for everyone.
We were able to pick up a little speed on the way down, but those burn sections were still wicked hot. By now, we were all feeling it. I was glad to see our car with air conditioning! I zonked out pretty quickly. As I age, I find I need more recovery time from big adventures. We put in 6.5 miles. If we had gone all the way up, it would be 7.5 miles. The entire loop is 8.7. The good news is you can pick whatever suits you for that day. We decided we would come back in the winter and attempt the full loop.
It isn’t a spectacularly scenic hike, but it is one mostly in the forest. It is challenging enough to give you a workout out but not too difficult, unless it is hot. If you give it a try and make it to the top, post a picture and let me know. Your pal and adventure buddy!
My mom, Lorraine Bossé-Smith is kind enough to help me share my Great Adventures, big and small. My mom is a motivational speaker, corporate trainer, business consultant, executive coach, behavioral-wellness expert, and author of nine published books. More importantly, she’s the best doggy mom ever!
and be sure to follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kumathedog/ and Instagram: kumaitothedog
Get outside! You never know what you’ll discover, and our paths just might cross. Happy tails!