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July 2020 - Prescott NF Loop: Sheridan Mountain, Conger Water, & South Mesa

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Met up with @theksmith & son, @CAVU2,  @SonoranWanderer for a nice little run through the Prescott NF to explore a loop south of Camp Wood Road and south of Hyde Mountain. A large portion of this area was damaged by the 2018 Subbs Fire caused by lightning.


Originally, we were trying to escape the heat in the valley with the seasonal high in the area being 85-ish degrees. Little did we know that there would be a record 116-118 heatwave across the valley. Our average high was 93 while we were on the run, but then we got slammed with a monsoon on the way home and the mercury dropped FOURTY DEGREES. It was amazing.


We meet up at the Chevon on Outer Loop Road north of Prescott for fuel and coffee and made our way to Camp Wood Road which took us into the heart of the Prescott NF. This gas station is a great place to meet up before exploring PNF, situated about 10-15min south of the east end of Camp Wood Road.


The below links rate these trails as “moderate”, but I’d have to completely disagree, coming from a stock tire/suspension Rubicon. Only Sheridan Mountain warranted a moderate rating. Conger and South Mesa were both in the easy range.


  1. Sheridan Mountain - This 12mi trail took us into the heart of the damage left by the 2018 Stubbs Fire which leveled almost 13 sq/mi of forest and desert. Views will included the sad but impressive damage left by the fire, granite outcroppings, views of the BT Butte, and panoramic views. The trail was overall very easy, growing much more technical by the “end” of the trail where it beings to fade at the top of Smith Mesa. The trail actually continues on much further and might make for a nice technical run some day when it’s cooler. 
  2. Conger Water - We doubled back and grabbed the connecting 6mi Conger Water Trail. Overall, this trail was pretty unremarkable (IMHO), but had a few interesting views here and there. There was a large number of hiking trail heads and a lush pygmy juniper forest known for Alligator Juniper trees. We broke for lunch at about noon under the shade of the tallest juniper we could find, which is saying a lot. Lunch was surprisingly comfortable with a nice breeze cooling the air down for us a bit.
  3. South Mesa - We dumped out on to the South Mesa trail with the option to either take an easier route north into the pines, or south along a rougher road to some views from South Mesa. We took the northern route, which was pretty smooth, and were in the tall Ponderosa Pines before we knew it. We came across some HUGE campsites that could accommodate up to around 50 rigs and some pretty impressive granite boulder fields.


We wrapped up the day headed back east on Camp Wood Road and aired up near the end. On the horizon we could see the monsoon doing its thing, pretty much developing from nothing over the course of the day. The rain was dumping all over the entire Prescott region on our way back to the Phoenix valley.


The day’s route:





Now for some pictures!


Our little caravan rolling through the damage left by the Stubbs Fire 





Here’s an excellent demonstration of how quickly the monsoon can pop up here in AZ. The below 2 images were taken about an hour apart from each other. Damage from the Stubbs Fire can be seen in the foreground.




From the top of the Smith Mesa. At this point the trail fades and becomes pretty technical in a few spots. This is about the only section to grant it it’s “moderate” rating.




Climbing back up in elevation towards the cooler pine forest






The area we stopped at to air up had just recently seen rain, so it was a touch cooler, which was welcome. This was also Luna the Jeep Dog’s very first off-road trip with me. :) 



Monsoon action over Prescott




A drive through the heart of the storm and proof the temps fell to darn near hypothermia-levels. I saw @CAVU2 & @SonoranWanderer cruise past me at a light with the top down on K2’s Rubicon. Hope you guys didn’t get too wet!





Original trip discussion here: 


Edited by 4x4tographer
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nice trip report @4x4tographer - and thanks for the fun run!

Edited by theksmith
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Great trip report and pictures! Thanks for leading a fun run and posting these Ryan! That rain storm (and accompanying cooler temps) sounds glorious! 

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