Wolf Creek (AZ)
A fun, but demanding mixed (gravel + tarmac) ride straight out of downtown Prescott featuring 3 climbs and 3 descents. No flat roads found here!
The route starts easy, departing from the Yavapai County courthouse. The first 5 miles climbs 745 ft on pristine tarmac with an average grade of 2.5% circumnavigating the west side of Thumb Butte. The next 3.8 miles, on gravel, climbs another 1000 ft (~ 5% grade, with pitches at 9%) to the highest point and most scenic viewpoint of the ride, sunset lookout.
From here, the road points down towards Skull Valley on Copper Basin road, where some sections are exhilarating and particularly steep (~ 15%). A quick un-expected left turn onto Forest Service road 53, about half way down the 5 mile descent brings you to the next climb. **Read More
A word of caution: This downhill section has some serious washouts as it runs parallel, and sometimes through Copper Basin Creek. The gravel on this section is of the large stone variety (eyeballs and fisters). A mountain bike would definitely be more suitable here but any adventurous gravel bike rider will love the challenge. We (AlainV and others) rode it with 38mm slick gravel tires with relative comfort (this will be skill dependent). While a different “we” (Gravel Girl) decided to just hike the tricky sections.
At the bottom (do not go through through the giant culvert, stay left) a steep short climb will bring you to Hwy 89, paved. The next climb looks daunting, but is gentle, and follows a very picturesque valley. There is some traffic, but the vehicle speeds are tempered by the twisty, curvy nature of the road. We had no issues and got a couple of friendly waves.
At the top, a short paved descent will quickly bring you to the second gravel descent of the day, South Indian Creek Rd. This is a super fun and fast descent to the valley floor and to the last climb of the day, Wolf Creek Road. This climb is ~4 miles / 900+ feet of beautiful gravel, requiring constant pressure on the pedals. Note that at the top section, there will be an increase in traffic (cars and buses) as there are various camps and campsites.
Part way up the climb, at ~ mile 23 is the trail head to Wolf Creek Falls. If the springs and creeks are flowing, we recommend doing the hike. But … lock up your bikes.
The final section of this route features an awesome descent on pristine tarmac yet again. The speed limit is 25 mph so the risk of cars passing you is low, making for a safe descent.
The route finishes where it started, at the historic Yavapai County courthouse. Near the courthouse there are numerous eateries. We really like the Wild Iris coffee shop on Granite street.
Adventure / Gravel Route
Advanced. Due to the ~ 2.5 mile technical descent on Forest Service road 53. But there’s no harm in hiking that section.
When we like to ride this …
Spring, Summer, Fall. In the Spring the creeks are full and Wolf Creek falls is flowing. Summer, earlier in the day, can be great. And … fall has the changing colors on the trees.
Yavapai County courthouse. Flush toilets and water are on the west side of the court house. Accessed from outside. Most of the parking near the courthouse is 2 hours. We recommend that you park near the courthouse, unload and kit out. Then, move your vehicle to the parking garage on Granite street that has free unlimited parking. DO NOT pull into the parking garage with your bikes on the roof of your vehicle. Boom!!
Lat / Long: 34.539982, -112.469502
Food / Water
Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road
For help with GPS files, the RideWithGPs mapping app and to learn how to download our routes for free, see the “Using Our Rides” page.