Spruce Mountain via 297
1 review Prescott National Forest #5 hike out of 160 in
4 hrs 25 min
This is a difficult out and back trail to Spruce Mountain Lookout Family Picnic Area in Prescott National Forest.
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Really nice hike for a lot of reasons 1. Only saw 1 person in 5 hours over 10 miles 2. Dogs were off leash the entire time and only other dog we saw was also off leash 3. Trail was well maintained and mostly well marked So to begin with this is a very secluded area with very few houses and/or traffic. The parking area is small and only 8-10 vehicles could fit but it was fairly easy to find but GAIA was of by only a bit and we drove just a bit far before turning around and finding the trailhead. I have added quite a few photos to show markers etc but I don’t think they all were attached. This is my first review and only second recorded hike so I am still learning. The trailhead for this is actually “Smith Ravine” Trailhead. SO look for that at the parking area on the west side of 297 (Walker Road) Go thru the gate and the trail is really well defined for just over 3 miles. Once you hit 3 miles be on the lookout for a few postings. 1 is on a fence right by a dirt road (Spruce Mountain Road) and 1 is a wooden sign facing away from you for others coming toward you. This sign is telling others that Walker road is 3 miles from where you stand via the Smith Ravine Trail. On the fence you should see a yellow sign that says “Please! Close the gate”. You will need to go thru this gate and follow Spruce Mountain Road until you get to the US Forest Service road that will most likely be gated shut. Proceed under the gate and continue on until you reach the picnic area right be the lookout tower......return the way you came. There is a restroom at the picnic site but not guaranteed to be open and not sure what season they open consistently. It was closed at this was on a weekend at 11am so just another sign that not many people frequent this trail due to length, stress of ascent....basically difficulty. This is a strenuous hike of roughly 10 miles total. Over 2200 (per Garton but only 1800 per GAIA) vertical ft of ascent so it will work your heart and your legs pretty well as well as working up a sweat. We ran into quite a bit of snow so check if you are going in the winter as there could be a lot more if there was a s storm that went thru. Suggest wearing good waterproof boots that can take a lot of water and mud. Dress in layers and bring energy snacks and plenty of water. There are indicators that there are 2 springs along the trail off a ways but we did not run into any of them nor did we go looking for them so not sure if there is accessible water along the trail if you run out.★ ★ ★ ★ ★