Thursday, April 05, 2007

Road Trip #2: Over the Hills and into Prescott

Routes into and out of Prescott come in three flavors: real mountain roads suitable only to SUVs and Jeeps, paved mountain roads favored by sports car drivers and bikers, and tame highways, such as SR69 and SR89 (north only), for everybody else. Iron Springs Road from the west through the mountains into Prescott fits nicely into category 2. Today's trip starts as the road climbs up out of Skull Valley and heads into the hills.

On the right up the hillside are the remains of the old route. There's an easy access to the old road for hiking a couple of miles and a number of curves further at the point where the Contreras Road takes off.

A short, almost straight piece of highway...

...giving way to "curves and mountain grades." Note that thus far, we've been travelling through chaparral.

Just before entering the pines, the road passes the Iron Springs community, at this point a posh enclave in the forest. Houses here are built on leased land. At one time, the old Santa Fe route stopped at Iron Springs on its way into Prescott. My mom recalls the weekend warriors who sent their families up to their mountain cabins for the summer, while they sweated down in Phoenix Monday through Friday.

Passing over the 6000 elevation point, where the pines start, coming from the west. On the east and north facing mountain sides, the ponderosas belt starts some 800-1,000 feet lower.

One of the many unpleasant results of our drought -- dead pines, killed by the bark beetle infestation.

The sun comes out -- after an overcast beginning to the afternoon.

As the road heads down into the Prescott basin, Thumb Butte is prominent to the south.
This curve opened a view to the east northeast: Lonesome Valley, the Dells and even a glimpse of Watson Lake. The Black Hills are in the distance beyond Lonesome Valley.

Further down and there's Prescott ahead. It's been a beautiful, smooth mountain drive.

With an ignominious finale: the current project that is to widen Iron Springs inside the city limits.

Note: For a video trip over Mingus into Jerome, visit hikenbike.com. Rich is a long-time blogger who recently parked his Airstream over at Point of Rocks in the Dells.

2 comments:

Steve G said...

That was a nice ride.

Granny J said...

Glad you enjoyed it! Did you have time to go to Jerome? That highway is more than somewhat narrower than the Iron Springs Road.

 
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