• Wickenburg to Yarnell:
Get an early start to grab breakfast at the Yarnell Family Diner, 25 miles away in the town of Yarnell, reached by traveling north on US-93 until taking AZ-89N for 19 miles. The diner opens at 7 a.m. Friday through Wednesday and offers small-town (pop. 650-ish), local charm with its breakfast fare.
• Yarnell to Prescott National Forest:
From the diner, it’s less than an hour and just over 40 miles to the trailhead of the 8-mile, Mint Wash/Willow Loop Trail. Continue north on AZ-89 for 11.8 miles, then turn left onto Kirkland Valley Road. In 4.4 miles, make a right onto County Road 10/Iron Springs Road, and follow it for 21.8 miles. Turn left onto N Granite Basin Road and, in 2.5 miles, turn right toward the Cayuse Trailhead—the only lot in the Granite Basin Recreation Area designed specifically for horse trailers.
From the trailhead, catch the West Lake Trail #351 until it joins the Mint Wash Trail #345, which takes you around Granite Basin Lake before paralleling the border of the Granite Mountain Wilderness on your left. At your next junction, hop on the Willow Trail #347 to the south, which will bring you to the Chimbly Water Trail #348. Head through the gate to join back up with the West Lake Trail, which will bring you back to the trailhead.
• Cayuse Trailhead to Prescott:
It’s a glorious 20 minutes from the trailhead to one of the West’s best good-timing, historical, cowboy towns: Prescott. When you get back out to County Road 10/Iron Springs Road, hook a left and follow it for 3 miles, until it becomes Whipple Street at the intersection with Willow Creek and Miller Valley roads. Whipple Street becomes N Montezuma, which will deliver you right into the heart of Prescott where Whiskey Row cozies up to the Courthouse Plaza. Not unlike Wickenburg, Prescott offers things to do, places to see, and foods to eat in spades, but a good starting point is The Palace Restaurant & Saloon, where legends of the Old West have been sidling up to the original 1880s Brunswick Bar for more than a century. If you’re looking for a slightly newer-West menu, Farm Provisions serves up farm-to-table fare in a family-friendly setting.
Granite Basin Trail Tips
• Each of these trails are considered “high use” and are open to hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders.
• Within the recreation area, trailer parking is also allowed at the Williamson Valley, Little Granite and Willow trailheads, but is prohibited at any other trailheads in the area.
• Elevations are in excess of 5,600 feet, so keep weather in mind throughout the winter months and dress in layers to accommodate any sudden changes.
[Related: Arizona Road Trip: INTO THE WILD(ERNESS)]
More to See and Do in Prescott
• Live Music—it’s offered in abundance throughout town.
• Whiskey Row boutiques, galleries and watering holes.
• The Yavapai Courthouse and Courthouse Plaza
• The Phippen, Sharlot Hall and Smoki museums