The morning air was crisp at 6,500 feet as we packed up camp and made the short trip back into town for a few supplies. Our little expedition would take the group farther north, along the old Senator Highway. Fortunately, the route is hardly a highway, and within a few miles of Crown King, turns into an unimproved trail. The track stays high along the hillsides and mesas, allowing for excellent views in all directions. Deep, rugged valleys drop off from the trail's edge, with large stands of pine and old-growth forest carpeting the horizon. The Senator Highway is also the location of Palace Station, the midway point of the route, which provided shelter and supplies to stagecoaches passing through here. The station is still in great shape and is used as living quarters for the Forest Service.
Due to the remoteness of the trail, the area was rich with wildlife, boasting deer, black bear, and several species of birds of prey. The trail surface starts to degrade slightly after entering Spence Creek, where granite and limestone make up the track's surface. Mines with names like Alligator, Mount Union, and Starlight dot the side of Yankee Doodle Peak and speak to this route's importance in the area's development.
After crossing the headwaters of the Hassayampa River, the trail improves, becoming graded, with cabins and homes indicating the arrival of civilization.
We hit pavement just south of the historic district in Prescott, which seemed a fitting end to this great adventure. Arizona rewards the remote traveler with some of the greatest terrain diversity in the country - we traveled through Sonoran desert, high plains, and mountain forests. With a tank of fuel and some camping gear, a basic 4WD can transport you and your family to the most amazing places. So get out and explore!
GPS COORDINATES (DATUM: WGS 84)
|Bloody Basin turnoff: ||N34 16.971 ||W112 07.146 |
|North turn to Pueblo (out and back): ||N34 14.133 ||W112 01.762 |
|North turn to FR44: ||N34 12.655 ||W111 57.005 |
|End FR44: ||N34 12.727 ||W111 53.997 |
|South turn to FR24: ||N34 09.338 ||W111 49.306 |
|Lime Creek campsite: ||N34 06.379 ||W111 51.040 |
|West turn to FR41: ||N34 00.553 ||W111 52.736 |
|End FR41: ||N33 58.184 ||W112 07.629 |
|Start Crown King Route: ||N34 08.215 ||W112 08.803 |
|Crown King: ||N34 12.335 ||W112 20.318 |
|North turn onto Senator Highway: ||N34 12.335 ||W112 21.893 |
|End Senator Highway, Prescott: ||N34 32.507 ||W112 27.796 |