Hiking Prescott National Forest Trail #114

Last Sunday, a friend and I hiked Trail #114 in the Prescott National Forest.  The trailhead is located about 4.5 miles west of Highway 260, at the end of Ogdon Ranch Road, just south of Cottonwood.  This was a 14 mile (round trip) hike with about 2300 feet of elevation gain, starting in the high desert and ending among pine trees.

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We arrived shortly after day break.  The temperature was in the mid-sixties, and the morning sun was at our backs — perfect for hiking.

Using the trail map and description from Todd’s Desert Hiking Guide, we followed the trail as it climbed a few steep rises, gaining about 500 feet before coming out on the north side of the Black Canyon.  Roughly 600 feet above the canyon floor.

For the next several miles, the trail climbed gently until making another series of moderately steep climbs over the crest of a hill at about 6100 feet.  From here we had excellent views up and down the canyon.  We could even see the red rocks of Sedona way off in the distance to the northeast.

From the hilltop, we quickly descended about 200 feet to the canyon floor and followed along a small running stream up canyon through pine trees. After a while, we left the stream behind and, after another short climb, found ourselves at a small campground at the end of an old fire-road.

We weren’t sure if we had actually reached the end of the trail or not.  Todd’s guide mentioned that there would be a “Trail #114″ sign at this end of the path.  We wandered around a bit looking for the sign, but couldn’t find it.  But from the map and the trail description, we were pretty sure this was the end.

After a brief lunch, we turned around to head back and discovered the sign was a vertical marker stapled to the back side of a tree.  To be fair, it was probably on the front side of the tree — we were probably walking the trail in reverse from what the forest service may have intended.

We hadn’t realized it at the time, but the temperature at the top was probably in the high-sixties.  Very comfortable for relaxing a few minutes before turning around.  When we arrived back at the trailhead, the temperature was in the low to mid-eighties.  Warm, but not yet unbearably hot like it will be in just a few short weeks.  This might be a fun hike to make earlier in the season, when there’s a chance the mountain tops still have a bit of snow on them.

I didn’t see any of the animals I would have expected to find.  No lizards.  No rabbits  No small rodents.  But at one point, as we rounded a corner, we startled three javalina.  They scrambled up out of the ravine they had been sunning in and quickly trotted off down the trail ahead of us.  I snapped a picture of them before they went around the next corner, but didn’t think to zoom in for a closeup.  I kept my eyes open as we hiked on, hoping to catch another glimpse of the javalina, but we never saw them again.
More pictures (click for larger versions):

Climbing from Trailhead View down into Black Canyon Trail along side of Black Canyon

Red Rocks of Sedona in Distance Forest in upper canyon Running stream in upper canyon

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