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This trail is entirely within a ponderosa pine forest. Travelers on this trail should plan enough time to visit the old Palace Station. Now a Forest Service administrative and information site, it is served until about 1910 as a stage stop at Spence Spring, about halfway on the route between Prescott and Crown King. The northern end of the trail begins on Ash Creek Ridge from which there are panoramic views to the south. The ridge overlooks Crook's Canyon and Mt. Union. All along this trail, but particularly in the Ash Creek drainage, is evidence of old mines and the remains of early human habitation. The vegetation of the creek bottom is a mix of evergreen oaks, pines, and riparian species. There are occasional pools that provide water for horses. From this trail you can also plan to return to your starting point along a number of alternate routes depending on the direction you wish to travel and the time you have available.

The trail is in good condition, but is difficult in places. From the Ash Creek Ridge, the trail goes south, dropping into the Ash Creek drainage and staying along the creek for 2.3 miles. You will pass two potential sources of water, the first at Quail Spring and then at the E Cross L Spring. The availability of water cannot be depended on and should not be used for drinking unless treated. At mile 2.9, the trail turns sharply northeast, climbing another drainage for 1.4 miles back to the Ash Creek Ridge and FR 70. When you reach FR 70, for a short distance and look for the #281 trail marker on your left. It is then another miles to where the trail ends on FR 52, just .2 miles north of the Palace Station. At the point in Ash Creek where the trail turns northeast, another spur continues south for .4 miles to FR 82.

Directions: From Prescott, Take the Senator Highway (FR 52) south from Prescott for approximately 11 miles past the turnoff to Mt. Union (FR 261). Continue south on FR 52 for .4 miles to FR 52B. take FR 52B, west for .3 miles to its junction with FR 81. Take FR 81 south for another .3 miles to the junction with FR 70. Take FR 70 southeast along the Ash Creek Ridge for about .4 miles to the trailhead on the right of the road.

Elevation: 7,000 feet

Ending Elevation: 6,000 feet

Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet

Distance: 5.3 miles

Usage: Light

Difficulty: Moderate

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Prescott National Forest, Arizona

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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

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