Hitting the trails Subaru Style – Exploring the Prescott Circle Trail

Calling out to the Prescott Subaru nation, spring is right around the corner. When the temps start to warm up and the days get a little longer, the community comes out of hibernation, craving the sunshine Arizona is famous for. It's time to put on the bike racks and load up the Subaru hatchback and the Subaru SUV, engage the Subaru AWD and head to the trails.

Prescott Circle Trail Sign - Photo by Chris-R.netPrescott, Arizona Subaru Dealers and Prescott Subies love the outdoors

Right in our backyard we get to take advantage of over 400 hundred miles of well-maintained trails gifting its users with breathtaking views, perse landscapes, and unique geography through a challenging terrain or on a gradual pleasant stroll. Mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners, walkers and horseback riders alike are invited to partake in nature's beauty and encouraged to lead an active, healthy lifestyle. Just like the Subaru nation, Prescott is filled with outdoor, adventure-loving, active inpiduals with easy access to numerous trail heads.

Join the journey of the Prescott Circle Trail

Today we are taking a closer look at 56 of those 400 miles of trails in and around Prescott. The Prescott Circle Trail (PCT) circumnavigates the city of Prescott which mountain bikers love to conquer in a single ride and hikers accomplish in a few days' time.

Our customers are Subaruing the campgrounds all the time that are just footsteps from the PCT. The Subaru Outback is a popular option that makes for the perfect camping companion. The hatchback model offers plenty of room to load up gear and is equipped with ultimate towing capacity. The Outback is a convenient-size vehicle with the power and torque for towing trailers and campers. Once unloaded and settled at the site, touring the PCT trail heads is a breeze!

The PCT takes trail users through the Dells, skirting Willow Lake around Pioneer Park, through the campus of Embry Riddle, gliding passed the base of Granite Basin, behind Thumb Butte, in front of White Spar Quartz Mountain, on the lakeshore of Goldwater Lake, by the base of Badger Mountain, rounding out by the serene Watson Lake.

The PCT covers a wide range of territory and terrain, leaving the trail user wondering "what's next on this adventure!?"

Prescott Circle Trail - Trail Intersectional Signs - Photo by Chris-R.netThe Prescott Subaru dealership commemorates the PCT

Findlay Subaru Prescott appreciates the vision, the design, the planning, and manual labor involved in the production and maintenance of this trail system. It invites and encourages the local community and visitors to get out, get active and get involved in the beautiful open air. Our team at Findlay Subaru are grateful for the crew behind the production of the PCT who provided an arena to promote a better quality of life and enjoyment for our local community.

We invite you to explore the journey of the PCT's fruition:

A little history about the PCT

Back in 1990, a non-profit organization called Yavapai Trails Association (YTA) was headed by President Jan Alfano. Jan had the idea of creating trails that would connect the existing trails around Prescott into one continuous system that would encompass the city. From this organization, a subcommittee of zealous volunteer trail builders was birthed, known as the Over the Hill Gang.

Together with the Prescott National Forest and the City of Prescott, the project was accepted as part of the Arizona State Trails System in 2007 enabling funds from State and Federal grants to support the building efforts. By May 2015 the PCT had finally been accomplished marked by a celebration by all those who made this vision of Jan Alfano and the YTA a reality.

From Paper to Trail

Chris Hosking, Trails & Natural Parklands Coordinator for the City of Prescott's Recreation Services Department has been with the department since 2006 and has built 75 miles of trails since in position. Chris, an avid mountain biker since 1982, is the designer for the ever-growing trail system in Prescott.

Earlier in his career, Chris was an industrial designer in Silicon Valley designing Apple computers. He grew weary of the industry and moved to the mountains where he switched from designing computers to designing products for bikes and motorcycles. Eventually mixing business with pleasure, he started his career in designing trails for the pleasure of all outdoor enthusiasts in the area.

"Visualizing a trail is just like how I would approach a phone or computer visual design. I consider the user group, what type of trail it'll be – I want people to use it. A death-march up a steep hill is no fun, and it's not sustainable since it will erode quick with the steep grade."

Chris begins marking a trail on a big print out of the land. With visits to the trail site he accounts for, what he calls, "anchor points", which are interesting trees and rocks, and beautiful views, to incorporate into the design. His strategy is to keep the trails interesting for the trail user.

The trail system is blended with smooth flat sections and high elevation switchbacks, extending at one point to a serene 6,700-foot summit with breathtaking views. The trail passes through an intrusion of rock formations, through Ponderosa pines and oak brush, manzanitas, and junipers to the shores of lakes and river banks.

Chris describes the terrain as the designer's palate. "The landscape is your palate. You impose the design based on the end user and the skill level desired." He explains the PCT was designed to be enjoyed by the masses with a relatively easy skill level built for safe travels.

Designed with the user in mind - built for fun

Aware of the perse needs and desires of the PCT trail users, the design and construction needed to be encompassing to the different populations—much like Subaru cars for sale are engineered for the varying needs of the outdoor active lifestyle.

  • Hikers want a view
  • Mountain bikers want the fun factor of speed and technicality and require a large-scale sight line for safety purposes
  • Runners, like mountain bikers, like variety along the course but not too twisty, though to slow traffic down to heed for an approaching cliff, Chris will throw in some sharp corners to cause the trail user to take precaution.
  • Horseback riders need easy access to a water source and a higher canopy

For a physically-fun experience, Chris looks at the trail's potential for terracing to include a mixture of steep ascents with flat stretches to regain stamina. The anchor points are also strategically placed to encourage a breather and to soak in the natural beauty of everyone's favorite hometown.

The extensive process for building new trails

The Trail Dozer - Photo by Chris-R.netAs portrayed in this video, Chris is a one-man operation for flagging the desired trail. He enlisted the Prescott Fuels Reduction Crew to do the extensive man power of clearing the brush, then he was back at it to excavate the dirt. Chris throws on his Carhart overalls as he heads out into the wilderness of uncharted territory, but even the canvas pants are no match for the defensive brush he faces.

It's tedious work connecting the dots from his GPS to the real-trail terrain. "Sometimes I may hit bedrock, then back track to go around the rock, unflag and come up with a different route. It's not until boots are on the ground do I see if the trail on the paper is conducive for building." He shares that the nervous energy can be taxing on the days his trail dozer nears the edges of cliffs.

Once the dirt has been moved and the rough terrain of the trail has been set, then Chris calls in his dedicated team of volunteers to groom the trail to prepare for use.

"The reward is awesome. Seeing people enjoy the trails and getting phone calls from people thanking me and the volunteers for all their efforts" makes it all worth it.

It takes a community to accomplish the goal

The Findlay Auto Group is a community-driven organization actively supporting charities and non-profit organizations for the betterment of the lives in their local communities. The mission behind the PCT is to support the local community and to draw visitors to Prescott, encouraging an active outdoor lifestyle and increasing the quality of life.

Chris Hosking, the Yavapai Trails Association with Jan Alfano, and all the volunteers supporting these efforts are what the Findlay Auto Group and the Subaru philosophy are all about, giving back to improve the lives of others.

"That's what is remarkable about Prescott is the community support and the volunteers." When Chris went full-time in his position of Trails and Natural Parklands Coordinator in 2007, he called up some guys he knew who worked for the forest service and volunteered on the building of the Peavine Trail in 1998.

Today there are a total of 300 volunteers on the mailing list with 60-70 actively involved in trail building.

"Two to three times a week there are about 30 people who come out, and we get a lot done. Over the course of a year there is typically 7,000 volunteer hours put in" for the building and upkeep of these trails.

The faithful Over the Hill Gang has been volunteering on the trails for years. The volunteers are tasked with smoothing out the trails, removing rocks and roots, filling in holes and to leveling high spots.

"We get kids from all ages and adults with our oldest volunteer at 83; volunteers from the hiking clubs, the mountain biking clubs, and horsemen."

It's a community event to work together to accomplish something so big, 56 miles big, and to be enjoyed for generations.

Here's how to get involved and volunteer

The Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance host a trail work day each month.

The following is a list of Trail Days to join in the fun of building and maintaining these trails.

Become part of the legacy:

  • March 24
  • April 13
  • May 8 - 6th Annual Community Workshop - Planning meeting
  • May 11 - 2019 National Trails Day: Trail Work Day
  • May 19
  • June 1
  • July 14
  • August 24
  • September 28
  • October 20
  • November 16

Requirements: Long sleeve shirt, pants, boots, eye protection. Hard hats generally provided, bike helmets work, too.

Other volunteer opportunities with the Over the Hill Gang:

Monday and Friday working with the city, contact George Sheats for more information, phone: 602-361-7857

Thursday working with the forest service, call 928-443-8000 for more volunteer details

Let the races begin!

The trail system in Prescott is not only good for local communities. The PCT offers itself as the perfect venue for community-based active events to support comradery, fundraising opportunities for charitable causes, and a reason to get out and move in an environment filled with like-minded people.

What's on the docket

"There's always something going on on the trails" – Chris Hosking

Like the ultra-marathoners and extreme mountain bikers, Subarus are a match made in heaven as a "go-anywhere" vehicle for the "go-anywhere" athlete, challenging the limits of the elements and terrain. The manufacturer manifested a cultural lifestyle of adventure-seeking, determined, limit-pushing, out-door loving aficionados, perfect for the participants of these races:

Whiskey Basin training run - Aravaipa Running's Jubilee going over the trail map with the runners - Photo by Chris-R.netWhiskey Basin Trail Run – April 13, 2019
88(ish)K | 60K | 33K | Half-Marathon | 10K
Prescott Circle Trail - Prescott, AZ

Debuting in this year's race is the new trail system that was built through Watson Lake Park. The race includes running through sections of Granite Dells, Thumb Butte, White Spar, Goldwater Lake, and Badger Mountain.

The Whiskey Off-Road – April 26-28, 2019
15 mile | 30 mile | 50 mile - Prescott, AZ

The race runs through part of the Prescott Circle Trail as part of the single-track course. Racing through other areas of the Prescott National forest with double track, gravel roads and some pavement.

With close to 500 runners last year and an expected 2,000 mountain bike racers this year, hosting popular events like these helps to support our local economy, boosting up revenue from visitor expenditures. They are also inspiring and motivating, encouraging others to train for similar events, or just to hit the trails for their own enjoyment and personal achievements.

Let's get technical

While hitting the trails, it is wise to carry a map to avoid taking wrong turns, getting lost and possibly stranded. And yes, while some of these trails are more technical than others, the overall goal is to have fun out in nature.

Now, there is an easier way to stay the course. Just like the innovative Subaru accessories, the Prescott Trail System has revolutionized from a printout map to a tracking navigation system on your phone through the Avenza Maps App. You can map out your trail and the blue dot will guide the user to make the right turns to get you to your destination.

Check out the PCT while visiting your favorite Arizona Subaru dealers

What's neat about Findlay Subaru Prescott is that it's conveniently located right next to Prescott Circle Trail system, neighboring Embry Riddle and across the street from Pioneer Park and Willow Lake. Come and meet up with Subaru Product Specialist Casey Hines, Findlay Subaru's own mountain bike buff who will be happy to talk trails with you. Or unload your Subaru hatchback in our lot to embark on your own adventure on the PCT.

Chris one of the founders and on the Board of the Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance also has a passion for Subarus. "I bought a Subaru WRX when they first came out in 2002. I wanted the all-wheel drive functionality but in a sportier look. It was a fast, fun car and it got me where I wanted to go with its turbocharged engine." A man of many miles, he boasted racking up over 225k miles on his Subaru WRX.

"I loved that thing!"

The outdoor enthusiast's most trusted Subaru dealership

Findlay Subaru Prescott is an Arizona Subaru dealer committed to its customers and their community. Passionate for improving the world their customers live in, this Subaru dealership has its customers, their care and their car's service rooted to the core. Driven to serve and provide top-notch customer care, Findlay Subaru Prescott is equipped with a professional, courteous staff who go above and beyond. The Subaru dealership offers new Subaru cars for sale or lease, as well as used Subarus and other makes and models. We invite any driver to bring their vehicle onto the lot and into our service center to get the best care and maintenance from our certified service technicians. We care for the safety of all drivers and passengers alike and are happy to provide standout service, so you and your vehicle can enjoy a long ride together.

Categories: Community Events, News
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