My cousin Steven and I hiked along the Granite Mountain Trail in Prescott National Forest on Sunday. We began our hike at the Metate Trailhead and hiked approximately 7.5 miles to a point on Granite Mountain with a lookout over Little Granite Mountain, the Sierra Prieta and Bradshaw mountains, Granite Basin Lake, Skull Valley, and Prescott, Arizona (Hiking Arizona by Bruce Grubbs, 2015 and Steven Chernek, personal communication). As we hiked the trail I was in awe at the huge boulders all around us. We started at an elevation around 5,500 feet and were around 7,000 feet at the lookout. The weather was a bit chilly in the morning but it warmed up to the lower 60s by midday and the view at the top was beautiful.
I enjoyed preparing for this hike by using the various maps that I have collected since moving to Arizona. Some of these maps include a Delorme for Arizona, the map in my Arizona hiking guide, my new National Forest Service map of Prescott National Forest, and a huge map that hangs on my wall titled, “Biotic Communities of the Southwest.” The biotic communities map is a supplemental map to a very useful book that I often use at work that goes by the same title and was written/edited by David E. Brown. Another awesome tool provided by the Arizona Game and Fish Department that I often use is Habimap. This mapping tool can highlight various topics including the numerous biotic communities found throughout Arizona. The habitat that we hiked through at Granite Mountain can be described as interior chaparral, Great Basin conifer woodland, and Petran montane conifer forest. David Brown’s “Biotic Communities of the Southwest” book provides excellent descriptions of the plants, animals, and ecology of each habitat identified with Habimap or the supplemental map.
Highlights for birds included a falcon (I think a merlin) chasing a red-tailed hawk, two western bluebirds atop pine trees right next to the road as we entered the park in the morning, and acorn woodpeckers that Steven gave a good description of their facial pattern – they look like they have a clown’s face. Here’s a link to an acorn woodpecker web page.
After the hike we walked down Whisky Row on Gurley Street in the City of Prescott, split a 12-pack of tacos at Taco Bell (I had the larger half), and bought a hot beverage from a local coffee shop, Wild Iris, before heading back down south to Phoenix.