Out and about - Watershed Trail
The Watershed Trail, when combined with the Groom Creek Loop, makes for a marvelous scenic hike of 9.5 miles.
The Watershed Trail by itself is a 2.8 mile moderate hike in one direction. It's moderate because it's short, but the knees feel the uphill as it climbs from 6,200 to 6,800 feet. The odd point to the Watershed Trail is there is no water so make sure to bring some.
Ponderosa pines surround the trail, but there is plenty of open space to see the scenery of the surrounding mountains including the San Francisco Peaks about 100 miles away.
Once hikers reach the 2.8 mile mark, they can turn right into Trail 307, also known as the Groom Creek Loop. Hikers can also turn left onto the trail that will eventually lead them to Lynx Lake. Of course, hikers can just turn around at this point and go back giving them a moderate 5.6 mile hike.
That would not have been enough on this day for fearless hiking leader Rich Karlin. His preference was taking Trail 307 and hooking into the Groom Creek loop that goes to the top of Spruce Mountain.
Again, no water along this trail. There were a couple flowers out, but not many. However, the wonderful views of the surrounding mountains continued. The Groom Creek Loop is rated as a hard hike because the elevation continues up to 7,696 feet to the lookout tower. This is where the Forest Service worker is nice enough to let people in for a better view and time to chat while watching the hummingbirds at the high elevation feeder.
Hikers were also happy that a new latrine is found at the top along with picnic tables. There are plenty of trees along the way, mostly oak and ponderosa pine, but the mountain was misnamed because there are no spruce trees on this mountain.
Directions - Take Gurley Street in Prescott east to Prescott Courthouse and turn right onto Mount Vernon Avenue, which becomes Senator Highway. Travel 7.4 miles to the trailhead, which will be on the left one mile past the community of Groom Creek.
Resource Book: The Best of Prescott Trails by Pat Baillie.