Mother Nature must be confused and think it is summer time. Our temperatures have been a bit on the warm side lately, so back up north we went in search of cooler weather and a new adventure. Dad found Thumb Butte, and we didn’t have to go far and ended up in Prescott.
We took I-17 north to exit 262 or 69 west toward Prescott. If you go, you’ll stay on 69 through the Prescott Valley, which has tons of lights. We encourage you to hit the road early to beat traffic not only on I-17 but on the 69 through town. When you reach the actual town of Prescott, you will turn right onto Gurley. Get through town and look for Thumb Butte Road and go left. It can take a while to get through town, so allow a good 1 ½ hours from North Phoenix -more if you are south.
Follow Thumb Butte Road to the parking lot. You will need to pay $5 per vehicle or display a park pass. If you adventure like us, the park pass is well worth the money! Anyway, the trailhead parking lot has human restrooms and a great view of Thumb Butte. The actual trail, though, is across the street. There are steps from the parking lot.
Take a moment before you begin hiking to take in the view of Thumb Butte, which is rugged basalt. As you look up, it appears to be a very long way to the top, but the trail is only 1.75 miles up. You have two choices: 1) Clockwise or a left that takes you up a steep, paved walkway or 2) Counter clockwise or to the right that is a dirt hiking path. The entire loop is 2.5 miles either way. The paved way is shorter but harder to the top while the dirt way is longer but not as strenuous.
Since we hadn’t been here before, we went counter clockwise per recommendations we saw online. We headed to the right and followed the dirt hiking trail. Once on it, you keep going to the left and stay on trail #33. It’s a rocky but relatively steady hike up. You might feel the elevation of over 6,000 feet. Be sure to drink extra water even if you aren’t hot. The morning temps up here are heavenly, but you still need to hydrate.
Be prepared for amazing views of the Bradshaw Mountains, Sierra Prieta (means dark) Mountains, Granite Mountain, Mingus Mountain, and, on clear days, the San Francisco Peaks. Unfortunately, about mid-way through our hike, a fire broke out. There went some of our views, and we could smell the smoke.
Still, we could see Prescott, especially when we got to the top. Now, the end of the trail isn’t all the way to the tippy-top, but unless you bring rock-climbing rope, you won’t get there. Getting to the top is not dog friendly, either. We were content sitting on the ledge for a break before we headed down.
We read this is a very popular hike, but it wasn’t too busy. I think starting early helped. Anyway, route #33 is a loop, so you continue on once down from the rock pile. The return is paved all the way down. Mom used her hiking pole as it was pretty steep. It does have hand railings if you need them.
As I mentioned, the paved section is shorter, so we were down in no time. It took us about one hour to hike up and only 30 minutes to get back to the car. Since it was still morning, mom and dad decided to stop for a late breakfast. On Gurley right before you get back to downtown is a restaurant called The Apple Pan. We parked, and I stayed in the car. They do have an outside area where I could join my folks, but it had zero shade. I was good with my doggy bed and a cool breeze.
The Apple Pan is a cozy restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch. Mom and dad got a table right away, but it can fill up quickly. They have lots of apple recipes and tons of other great options for breakfast or lunch. Mom had apple crepes, and dad did an apple egg scramble. Me, I got to eat some of the best bacon I have ever had. It was thick and tasty!
We highly recommend it. Service was fast and friendly, and prices were reasonable. What a way to end our adventure! Our drive down went smoothly, and we were grateful. We definitely will go back, but we all agreed that we would take on the harder, steeper part first for the challenge. Gotta live large my friends.
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, executive recruiter, business consultant, coach, fitness expert, and author of nine published books. More importantly, she’s the best doggy mom ever!
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Get outside! You never know what you’ll discover, and our paths just might cross. Happy tails!