by Ron Smith

For the past several years the Yavapai Trails Association has been developing a plan to create an integrated trail system to encircle the Prescott area. Part of that endeavor has been to get local governmental agencies to recognize that plan and include it within local city and county plans. Both the City of Prescott and Yavapai County now have officially adopted policies governing the protection and development of trails within their respective jurisdictions, particularly with respect to traditional trails that are being affected by residential development.

The other side of YTA’s effort has been to establish, at least on paper, the trail elements needed to link various parts of the County together into an integrated “Prescott Circle Trail” system. The Turley Trails is one of those links. It is a public, non-motorized trail that connects the Prescott neighborhood of Stagecoach Acres to nearby National Forest trails.

During the spring and summer of 2006, the trail underwent a significant restoration through a Federal grant administered by State Parks Department grant. Many volunteer hours went into this effort as in-kind match required for the grant. The north-end parking area and trailhead has also been secured for an additional 40 years under a separate agreement with Arizona State Land Department.

If you are a return visitor to the trail, you will note real changes, especially to the southern reach of the trail. Historical ATV use has caused a lot of trail damage. Much of this has been repaired, new signs are in place, and ATV use has been blocked by felled trees and scarified access paths.

YTA group named the trail in 1994 to honor the late Gerald H. Turley, who devoted many years to Boy Scouts of America, and in particular to their trail building projects within the Prescott National Forest.

How to get there: GPS location: N34º 32.87’ W112º 26.60’
Travel east on East Gurley Street in Prescott toward the junction where Hwy. 89 turns north to Chino Valley. Approximately 0.1 miles before that junction, turn right on Butterfield Road. After 0.3 miles Butterfield turn sharply left. After another 0.3 miles, turn right on Wells Fargo Road and continue to the top of the hill. At that point a narrow access road goes right, through a gate, to the trailhead parking area. There is adequate parking for at least 6 vehicles.

• Road conditions: Paved to Wells Fargo, then dirt but suitable for all vehicles.
• Hiking time: 3 hours, round-trip.
• Difficulty: Moderate.
• Use: Moderate
• Uses permitted: Hiking, bicycling, horseback riding.
• Recommended seasons of use: Spring, fall, winter. This is an open brushy hillside that can be very warm in summer.
• Maps, other resources: U.S.G.S. topographic 7.5’ quad for Prescott.

The trail contours for most of its length across a west-facing brushy hillside. There is little elevation change and, consequently, the trail is easy to negotiate. Its attractions are the splendid views west across the entire Prescott basin, with its backdrop of the Sierra Prietas and Granite Mountain. The trail connects to Tr #126, thus offering an opportunity to further explore the mountainous terrain of the northern Bradshaw Mountains.

The foregoing trail description is taken in part from the 3rd edition of my book, A Guide to Prescott & Central Highlands Trails, published in March 2006. The book is available for $15.95 at most local book, bike, and outdoor stores.