Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Next up on my list of trails to master was the notorious Granite Mountain. The Granite Mountain Trail #261 is roughly nine miles roundtrip with a moderate amount of foot traffic. The hike starts in the shade and progressively inclines to the sun. I appreciated the notebook positioned at the start of the hike, used for tracking who went up and who may not have returned down. The hike itself was moderate, consisting of a 1,656 ft elevation gain and many switchbacks to follow. While walking, there are numerous sights to take in, from the desert rocks and cacti to the pine forest devastated by the Yarnell Hill fire of 2013.
On the hike up, there was a noticeable transition from fun, lightweight conversation to silence, as hikers started conserving oxygen for breathing rather than speaking. However, as we kept climbing, we reached the most prominent rock formation above; don’t let this fool you, it is a “false” summit with a better view hidden behind. It requires climbing, but the view is well worth it, casting over the flatland and lake below. Because it is incredibly windy on top of Granite Mountain, no matter the season, a jacket is desirable. Overall, this is an awesome group hike. The estimated time was about two hours up and one hour down, with additional minutes for enjoying the view and a picnic if packed. Trail #261 doesn’t receive full marks simply because not all the directional trail signs were clear, and I was led astray many times.