Castle in the Canyon

October 16, 2016, Prescott Valley- After a Saturday morning of service, via the Red Cross, in the incomparable town of Sedona, a fine lunch and conversation with a friend who works near our service site, and a couple of social gatherings with Baha’i friends, my knees asked for a bit of consideration.  Unlike many my age, I cannot sit for too long, without getting up and giving my frame a good workout.

So this afternoon, as our biweekly Sunday lunch gathering was drawing to a close, I headed for the one peak in the Prescott area which I had not yet hiked:  Glassford Hill.  This extinct volcano had been State Trust Land, and largely restricted in use, until this past May.  A trail was completed, and was dedicated then, and is now a welcome addition to this grassland community’s recreational portfolio.

It is a 2.25 mile hike, each way, from the trailhead to the summit.  The difficulty level, to me, is moderate, with four short switchbacks of moderate incline, each connected by road-width, relatively level longer switchbacks.  It took about 1 1/2 hours to go up and back.

The centerpiece of the trail is a pair of basalt outcroppings, called The Castle in the Canyon, for their imposing appearance.


Basalt formations, Summit Trail, Glassford Hill


Basalt formation, Summit Trail, Glassford Hill

The “Castle” lies just shy of the one-mile point, of the trail.

The rest of the mountain is largely tall grass prairie.  Pronghorns and deer are seen quite often on the wider slopes, though none were visible when I was there. A few mountain lions are said to live on the peak, as well.


Communications towers, northwest peak of Glassford Hill.

At the summit, the peak’s namesake, Colonel William Glassford, erected a heliograph terminal, by which he was able to communicate, via  Morse Code, with U.S. Army officers at Fort Union, NM.  The process is described on the placard below.


Information placard, on summit of Glassford Hill


Heliograph plate, summit of Glassford Hill


Commemorative flag, honouring Colonel Glassford, summit of Glassford Hill

As far as we know,there was little use of this peak by the Apache or Yavapai peoples, who pre-dated the ranchers in this area.  The first name bestowed on the mountain was “Baldy Peak”, owing to its being a grassland with a  few bristlecone pine trees.

Its uniqueness among the mountains of Yavapai County, nevertheless, makes Glassford Hill a  trail worthy of a good afternoon’s workout.

4 thoughts on “Castle in the Canyon

    • The area around Glassford Hill is in a rain shadow, so its perpetually yellow grasslands make the mountain stand out from its greener neighbours. It has a lonely air to it, which made me all the more determined to pay it a visit. The afternoon was most rewarding.

      Liked by 1 person

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