6/25/2013 10:27:00 AM Big Bug Mesa offers big views, long walks and high altitude
Fred Stellbrink and Dusty Levangie from the Prescott Hiking Club take a break before they finish the Big Bug Mesa hike. Photo/Stan Bindell
Wild flowers grow along the side of the trail. Photo/Stan Bindell
Stan Bindell The Observer
A hike with Fred Stellbrink from the Prescott Hiking Club is always tough and strenuous. If Stellbrink says the hikes are 10 miles they are closer to 15 miles. If he says the hike includes a 1,300 foot change in elevation, well it could be a bit more.
That was the case when this loop hike on Big Bug Mesa turned into a 15 mile hike. The hike starts at what is known as Five Points or Five Corners after driving up the country road that begins at Poland Junction. Five roads actually come out on the top. Those who drive down the other side will come out at Walker Road.
Hikers begin their trek at Trail 706 at an elevation of 6,926 feet. Those coming from Phoenix might feel the altitude. Those coming from Flagstaff will feel right at home.
This hike offers a lot for naturalists aside from the workout. The walk includes dropping down to about 5,400 feet before the loop has the climbers making their way back up the mountain. The trek is well worth it because of the scenic green trees, mostly pines, and the surrounding mountains. While flowers are not abundant, every once in a while enough would pop up to keep the walk colorfully entertaining.
The heat of the day could tax the hikers who weren't in as great shape as some of the others, but it also brought out the butterflies to enjoy the yellow primrose, blue flowers and thistle.
Toward the end of the hike Turkey Creek offered a little water, but it may not be drinkable and hikers need plenty of water for this strenuous trek.
Those with great mapping or exploratory skills can figure out this loop, but those with an easier hike in mind can take the 5.5 mile Big Bug Mesa-Old Dandrea Ranch Loop which is rated as moderate. This is another high elevation hike. This hike also begins at the top and drops down to 6,400 feet. Walnut trees and fruit trees will be found along this hike.
Directions to Big Bug Mesa:
Both entrances are from Highway 69. From the south, take Poland Road from Poland Junction straight up to Five Corners. From the north, take Walker Road. From Walker Road, drive 6.9 miles. After crossing a narrow bridge, turn left onto Forest Road 670, sign posted for Big Bug Mesa. Follow the well-graded dirt road for 5.9 miles to reach Five Corners. There is plenty of parking for the few vehicles at the top. Resource Book: "Best of Prescott Trails" by Pat Baillie.