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Granite Mountain - Prescott National Forest

Summary: A nice 1/2 day hike to a view point on Granite Mountain. 
Directions: From Phoenix drive north on I-17. Exit onto State Highway 69 and drive north until it ends in Prescott. Turn left onto 89 South (also called Sheldon St.) and drive 1.3 miles to a 'T' intersection with Montezuma St. (there is a Fifth Third Bank on the right of this junction). Turn right onto Montezuma, though next time you see a sign the road will have turned into Whipple. After 1.5 miles the road changes names once again becoming Iron Springs Rd. and if that's not weird enough it is also State Route 10. After 3 miles turn right on the paved Granite Mt. Trail (which is also FR 374).  Follow the signs for the Metate Trailhead which you will reach in 3 1/2 miles. There is a $2 per car load self registration station at the trailhead parking lot. 
Road Conditions: Passenger Car
Navigation: Easy
Length: ~5 miles
Date Hiked: February, 2001
Weather Conditions: Cold with lots of snow!
Required Skills: None
Hike Description: From the signed trailhead begin walking along the Granite Mountain Trail (#261).  The path descends slightly, bends left then for the next mile follows the front range of Granite Mountain. The range is quite pretty with juniper and pine mixed among the rounded pink granite boulders. A short distance later you will pass the wilderness boundary and trail register. As you continue your walk you will see a large cliff face off to the left. The area around the cliffs + 100 ft buffer around the ridge is a breeding area for endangered Peregrine Falcons and is off limits Jan 1 - July 15. Most people think of cheetahs when they think of the worlds fastest animals (they are the fastest land animal). In the air Peregrines have no equal having been clocked at speeds in excess of 200 mph when diving for prey! After a mile or so of walking you will reach an intersection and gate (1 mile). Trail #39 continues through the gate, however we will remain on #261 by turning right and begin the moderate ascent of the mountain. The trail negotiates a series of switchbacks as it continues up the mountain towards Blair Pass to the left of the cliff face. A mile of climbing will bring you to the saddle (2 miles). Follow the arrow on the small wooden sign pointing right and continue climbing. The trail climbs around the back side of the hill through a pine forest, then follows a level ridge around the front before crossing a stream bed and climbing a short distance to a view point (pack animals not allowed) at the top of the cliff (2.5 miles). You are standing on the most scenic mountain in the area though, so the view is really not that spectacular. When ready, return the way you came (5 miles).
Rating (1-5 stars):
When the author and his wife completed this hike there was a considerable amount of snow from a recent storm. Lower elevations had 1-12 inches on the ground, while in the mountain areas it was over our knees. Since no one had hiked the trail since the storm we had to plow our own path making for slow going (though we had the mountain to ourselves). We completed the hike in 4 1/2 hours and were grateful to reach the parking lot again and change out of cold wet shoes. 
Maps: Prescott National Forest map - not very good, Granite Mountain Wilderness map - good
Books: None
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
On the way up 
to Blair Pass.