On this trail, travel 37 miles along an old toll road from Crown King to Prescott. Along the way, you’ll pass the old Senator Mine and numerous other historic buildings on the scenic and fun mountain road.
Where to go:
This trail has two optional starting points. The first is Prescott – from Highway 89 in downtown Prescott, head south on Mt. Vernon Avenue. The road bends left slightly and turns into Senator Highway. Follow this for approximately 6 miles until the pavement ends. The second option is to start in downtown Crown King (which will require either first taking the Backway to Crown King or Crown King Trail. Head east from downtown Crown King and turn right at the intersection. The road continues south and climbs. Stay right where Horsethief Trail goes left and stay right again where the Backway to Crown King goes left.
From downtown Crown King, head east and cross the bridge. Turn right at the intersection. The trail is now a wide and graded forest road. Stay right at 0.6 miles where Horsethief Trail goes left and again at 1.8 miles where the Backway to Crown King goes left.
Just after passing the turnoff to Lake Pleasant, you’ll pass what’s left of Bradshaw City. There is a sign off on the left but not much of the town-site remains today. The narrow trail begins heading in a northwesterly direction as it snakes beneath Towers Mountain. Stay on the main road for the next several miles where several smaller trails branch off in every direction. The trail remains mostly easy (some rocks and washouts) as it hugs the mountainside. Because this is a tight trail with lots and lots of turns, be on the lookout ahead for oncoming vehicles. Backing may be required to pass but knowing ahead of time will help prevent a close encounter. The trail continues twisting and turning until you turn right and cross a cattle guard at 6.4 miles. At this point, the trail follows Pine Creek and may have some water on this section of trail. Also – this area was affected by the Lane 2 fire several years ago and is still recovering. The right side of the road has extensive fire damage and trail maintenance was still ongoing as of May 2015 when we did this trail.
After following the sometimes wet creek for a little while, the trail turns right at 8.9 miles and returns to its narrow and twisty form. You’ll be treated to great views as the road reaches a low point. Along this section, you will be able to notice how the vegetation transitions from Ponderosa Pines to high-desert shrubbery. Ignore all side roads as the trail re-enters the pine trees. The trail heads almost due north for a while. Stay straight at 13.8 and 14.3 miles where lesser roads branch off to the right and lead to DeSoto Mine (difficult trail). Not long after, you’ll come to a clearing at 15.1 miles which has an old corral off to the left and makes a nice spot for a break.
Continuing north, the trail gets a little rougher as it climbs towards Prescott. Stay left at 17.3 miles where several trails meet at a junction. After this, you’ll be following along another small creek where water may be present on the trail. For the next few miles, the trail gets rocky in sections where erosion has cut into certain parts of the trail. 4-wheel drive likely won’t be needed but clearance will help in these sections. At 21 miles, you’ll come to a ‘T’ at Palace Station, an old stagecoach stop along the route between Prescott and Crown King. You’ll want to turn right here but check out Palace Station from outside the fence. You’re not allowed to go in but you can still check out the old cabin from the road.
After leaving Palace Station, the trail climbs for the next 4 miles. It may get rougher in this section depending on the time of the last maintenance. Stay on the main trail as it snakes through the hillside. Use caution at 25.9 miles where the trail switchbacks downhill as part of its descent into Prescott. At 27.3 miles you’ll pass the Senator Mine off to your left. It’s worth stopping to check out. A large metal frame and numerous foundations are a quick hike from the main road. Once you’re back in your vehicle, the trail is smooth and easygoing from here on out. The trail becomes wide and you can cruise at a reasonable speed, although it does still have several twists and turns. The surrounding area becomes more and more populated indicating you’re getting close to Prescott. At about 30 miles the trail turns to pavement and then it’s an additional 7 miles to get to downtown Prescott.
Notes & Trail Ratings:
Senator Highway isn’t too difficult. After the fire and before recent trail maintenance, 4-wheel drive was required on this trail. Now, you can get away without it except in inclement weather. This trail does receive quite a bit of snow in the winter time. Take that into account when planning a trip along this trail. We’ve rated the trail a ‘4’ because of some of the rocky sections and the overall narrow trail. Most stock SUV’s with good ground clearance can make this trip. Trail conditions may vary after rains and after long periods without maintenance. Senator Highway is 37 miles end to end. Allow for 2-4 hours to drive the trail at a decent pace and stop a couple of times.