Amidst the ponderosa pine, alligator juniper, granite, and mazanita you'll find that Prescott offers an impressive network of trails for hiking.
At an elevation of a little over a mile, Prescott provides some of the most beautiful and scenic trails and views. However, being a mountain desert climate at such an elevation often befuddles otherwise avid and prepared hikers.
We're here to help with that. This checklist for hiking at high elevation will address some of the more popular questions and concerns we've received regarding hiking in Prescott, AZ.
1) Always let someone know where you are going. Additionally, if there is a sign-in sheet at trailheads, make sure to scribble in your name. No one plans to get lost or stranded, but it is wise to take all precautions just in case.
2) Hydrate. When I first moved to Prescott, I wasn't much of a water-drinker, and now I can't seem to drink enough! Three things contribute to the pressing need to hydrate more often: our elevation, our drier weather, and the intensity of a hike. Make sure to drink water before, during, and after a hike. If you notice early symptoms of dehydration (dry mouth, headache, etc.) it is best to cancel the hike and make your way back to your cars.
3) Layers. Again, it is our elevation and climate that are the culprits. While a day might start off dry and warm, it may soon turn dark, wet, and cold...or all three! The best way to be prepared for this is to wear layers. A fleece and/or waterproof jacket is the outermost layer, followed by a top and shorts/pants.
4) Footwear. While many of us may be familiar with hiking in gym shoes or old tennis shoes, I would strongly advise wearing sturdier footwear, such as a pair of light to midweight boots. Higher and thicker socks that breathe well are also recommended. Good socks and sturdy shoes are an invaluable asset when hiking in Prescott simply because things here are sharp...everything is out to poke you!
5) Snacks. Adequate nutrition is also an important element in being prepared. Having a hearty breakfast (such as the sumptous ones served at Prescott Pines Inn B&B) is a must. When packing for a longer hike, it is especially smart to add in some high-protein, high-energy snacks, such a granola bars, nuts, or fruit (or the granola at Prescott Pines Inn B&B). Be sure to pack the snacks your body needs.
6) Sun Protection. With a higher elevation and a desert climate, the sun is always going to be on your back, literally. Depending on your skins tolerance to the sun, you might just need a 30 spf sunscreen and sunglasses. If you are fairer in skin color and/or sunburn easily, wearing protective clothing (such as a broad sunhat and longsleeves) can greatly increase your protection from harmful sunrays.
7) Cellphone. Many of us own cellphones and carry them with us. It makes sense to take our cellphone along with us during the hike, but make sure it is fully charged!
8) Map. If your trail is a bit off the beaten path or you can't remember trail markers well, a map might be a good item to take with you. A map can better help you visualize when you are. You can view the Mile-High Trail System or download a trail map at the City of Prescott website.
9) First Aid. It's a great idea to take along some minor emergency first aid supplies, such a bandaids and a pair of tweezers. For longer or more advanced hikes, a first aid emergency kit (available at several stores in the area) may be a better idea. Better safe than sorry.
10) Emergency Items. Though not absolutely essential, packing emergency items may save your life. These items can maximize your chances of survival in an emergency situation. A flash light, firestarting kit (or lighter), poncho, emergency shelter, compass, and knife are all helpful items in dire situations.
Whew! There you have it, now you know the 10 most important things about hiking in Prescott AZ!
Happy Trail Blazing!