Senator Highway

Crown King, Arizona (Yavapai County)

Last Updated: 10/30/2020
4.1 / 5 ( 8 reviews )
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Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Length: 40.6 miles
Highest Elevation: 7100 feet
Duration: About 3 hours, 30 minutes
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: North
Nearest Town: Crown King
Nearest Town w/ Services: Prescott
Official Road Name: 52
Management Agency: Prescott National Forest
District: Bradshaw Ranger District
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Highlights

Highlight: Senator Highway
Let’s get something straight right now. Senator Highway isn’t a highway. And it has nothing to do with politics, well almost nothing. But the Senator is an amazing trail through a beautiful and rugged land with a great history. In 1863 William Bradshaw discovered gold and other mineral deposits in a largely unexplored Arizona mountain range that would one day bear his name. By 1871 the Senator Mine southeast of Prescott, the off-and-on territorial capital of Arizona, was producing a fine grade gold ore. One of the partners in the Senator Mine was the then Territorial Governor John Goodwin who may, or may not, have had aspirations to be Arizona’s first Senator once it achieved statehood. A toll road, begun in 1866 from Prescott towards Groom Lake, was continued on to the mine in 1875 and became known locally as Senator Highway. By then the first mining claim was established near what would become the bustling new town of Crown King. By fits and starts, Senator Highway was extended across the spine of the Bradshaws to connect the Crown King to Prescott. Today Senator Highway troops through verdant pine forests and classic high desert chaparral climbing and descending the varied topography. Portions of the trail are nicely maintained while others are often rutted and rough receiving little attention. Sections of shelf road offer broad vistas across the rugged Bradshaws. Approximately at the halfway point of the trail lies the historic log cabin known as Palace Station. Built as a homestead in 1875 by Alfred and Matilda Spence, the cabin was used as a stage stop until 1910. Today it is an administrative site for the Prescott National Forest and not open to the public. As one of the oldest structures in Arizona still in use, the cabin is a treasure and a highlight of the Senator Highway.

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Weather

7 day forecast for Senator Highway

Route Information

Technical Rating:
( EASY )

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Waypoints

1. Trailhead (0 mi)
The trailhead can be found at the intersection of Crown King Road / FR 59 and Horse Thief Basin / FR 52 only 0.6 miles south of the town of Crown King, Arizona. Turn right/west at this intersection to start the trail. There are several small campsites near the trailhead.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 34.199173, -112.339771
From I-17 north of Black Canyon City take Exit 248 to join the Crown King Road. Proceed 27 miles on this scenic dirt road to the mountain community of Crown King. Proceed 0.6 miles beyond the turnoff to "downtown" Crown King to the beginning of Senator Highway.

Camping

Dispersed

Trail Reviews (12)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Went from bumble bee to crown king then took senator highway in to prescott. North of palace station probably the last 10 or 12 miles of the trail went back and forth between muddy and snowy. Some places the snow was fairly deep. I had to use 4 lo a couple times. Saw some spots where others had got stuck. My stock 4runner trd off road with general grabbers had no issue getting through though. Great trail saw several mule deer and some history along the way. Highly recommend.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Just a quick note. Attempted to connect the trail from I17 & Bumblebee to Crown King with the Senator Highway up to Prescott this morning. Everything was easy and dry up to Crown King. There was still a decent amount of snow on the ground once I got there. Tried to push beyond Crown King, but thought better of it. The dashboard thermometer read 52 degrees and the snow was very slushy. Only went about 1/2 mile beyond the parking lot for the Saloon when I turned around.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Started out from exit 259 off I-17 and connected to Crown King road on a sunny AZ day. Very easy trip up to Crown King and beautiful scenery. From Crown King connected to Senator Highway and it really starts out heavily rutted and bumpy but becomes easy after about a mile or two. This trail seems well maintained and was not busy on the Monday we travelled, but can see that it probably is busy on a weekend judging from the ATVs and dirt bikes that zipped past us along the way. Numerous campsites just off the trail that we will definately be back to use in the future. Trail was well marked, but we took along a downloaded map just in case. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy this trail, we spent about 5 hours from Crown King to Prescott and we were treated to an incredible snow shower right before Palace Station, which lasted into Prescott and made the last part of the trail breathtaking. The trail was bumpy and rutted after Palace Station for about 3 miles. We saw cows, burros, skunk and deer along the way. Definately check the weather forecast ( we did not) if traveling in the winter, because as we ended the trail there was a good 4 inches covering the road.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The Prescott National Forest has rescinded the Horse Fire related road closures. Trails are now open. However, the Forest Service is asking the public to avoid Senator HIghway between Crown King (Waypoint 1) and Palace Station (Waypoint 8) until further notice.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Took this trail from Crown King to Prescott. It was very scenic and beautiful as the road winds in and out of mountains and valleys. But it was also very bumpy which led to lots of gas, break, steer, repeat... x1000. I'm definitely being dramatic but those types of roads annoy the bejesus out of me. As you get into Prescott you find it was all well worth the drive (and those darned bumps).

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this trail from crown king to Prescott. Long road/trail with good views. Nothing to worry about the way I took and was pretty cool. Be prepared for a long bumpy road. Lol. Best part of this trail was the scenery toward the end near Prescott. It ends right at the downtown area of Prescott and a great way to end the day. There was a lot of camping spots near the end near Prescott and is accessible from a well maintained road so there were a lot of people and busy. Be carful for deer!! We saw tons of them.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We had a nice little group run a loop from Crown King Road to the Senator Highway to Poland Road. This route was convenient for our group as we connected from the i17 and dumped out near Mayer. A quick jaunt down the 69 and we met back up with the i17. This was my first trip up the Senator Highway. Overall an easy trail with beautiful sites. We found several nice spots on the side of the road to take a break and eat lunch in the shade of the pines.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Travelled from Crown King to Prescott in a lifted 2WD with locker, no issues. This trip is very long in a truck due to the very rough terrain, 4 hours with a few stops along the way. When first leave CK and turn right it feels like you are lost. Just follow the signs(writing on rocks) and you will be just fine. It was very dry and dusty but the views were fantastic. There are a few water crossings but not much water. Blind corners are throughout this trip so please take your time on this trip. I aired my tires down to about 25psi which seems to be the sweet spot on this rough road. Enjoy! Note: If you do air down there are places in Prescott that will air you up for free.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We drove Senator Highway from Prescott to Crown King.... First, this trail may have been a 1-2 in the past, but not today. It's more like a 3-4. It started out innocently in Prescott and got progressively worse. Crown King locals said that the monsoons of the last few years have not been good to Senator highway. Description on this site says "Normally a 2WD vehicle with reasonable clearance is adequate". HA! If you try this with a 2WD vehicle, have a tow-truck company on speed-dial for when you WILL get stuck. You NEED a 4WD high-clearance vehicle to make this trip. It took us 5 hours of driving time to get from Prescott to Crown King, so give yourself plenty of time to make the trip. We returned to Prescott via Crown King Road and Antelope Creek Road through Mayer. I will say that it was an interesting drive, especially with stops along the way at the old Senator mine and Palace Station and cemetery and finally having a beer at the Crown King Saloon. I will do this again with friends that have never driven this road. My wife on the other hand, refuses to ever do this again due to the rough five hour ride.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Saturday, I was able to finally hit this trail. I have always had this trail on my bucketlist (since I was a teenager) but never felt confident in any of my previous vehicles enough to attempt. We Started in Crown King and traveled to Prescott on this trail. The first 4-6 miles were a bit rough, but extremely fun! The views were beautiful and the drive was a lot of fun. I can say that the past year's weather has not been kind to this trail and area as the trail was a bit rougher than I expected, given the information from other off road individuals and the information on this site. It ended up being far more fun then I anticipated! We saw sunshine, rain, hail and snow all in the same day, which was extremely refreshing! The traffic wasn't too bad but I wasn't a fan of the SXS flying around tight, narrow, and cliff side corners. Other than that one down fall, I highly recommend this trail! Be prepared to be gone most of the day! We departed from N Phx and met at the BumbleBee Exit off I-17 N, traveled up to crown king, senators highway to Prescott then back down to phx, the whole day was about 12 hours with stops

Author:
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
We tried coming through this trail from Prescott and heading south, so the reverse order as is written. We got to one point in the trail where we were met by a sheriff's deputy who said the road was closed due to "the fires" and that only residents could go through. Unfortunately, I can't say exactly where we were on the route that we ran into this. We were probably just past Chad's waypoint #9, because we definitely didn't get far enough to see the palace station shown in #8 (since remember we're going backwards from his route) and we also know we didn't get to Pine Flat road shown at #6, because we actually thought about cutting east from there and we asked the deputy if we were to Pine Flat road yet and he told us no, we definitely weren't to it yet. We also don't remember seeing a road sign indicating that we passed Poland Rd, which Chad shows at waypoint #9. But we know we were at least over 10 miles from where we started (at his waypoint #13, end of trail) because we'd sort of kept track of how far we'd driven. We also were turned around by the Sheriff right after some very twisty-turny parts of the road, which also corresponds to what I see on the map just north of Chad's waypoint #9. It seemed like a nice trail, but we had to backtrack to the beginning so didn't see a lot of it. Maybe if you come from the south as it's shown in this map, the Sheriff thinks you're residents?

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Very nice trail. The first five miles out of Crown King was a bit rough. They were doing some grading of the road after the first five miles. Palace Station was really interesting. Good photo op.

Questions & Answers (1)

Q: I’m sure I know the answer, but just to confirm...this trail is accessible from crown king near the saloon and the mill, correct?
–Jon Sauber (04/02/2020)
–Christopher (05/30/2020)
–Jon Sauber (04/03/2020)
–Wade May (04/03/2020)

Writer Information

Wade May


Hi! I'm Wade. After 43 years as a pilot, split evenly between flying fighters for the Air Force and Boeing 737s for the airlines, my feet are firmly planted on the ground. Seems I spent a lot of my flying time looking out the cockpit window thinking, "Yep, I could drive that trail." My trips range from a few days to a month. Most are solo in my silver 4Runner named Bullit. We range over all the southwest exploring remote places and trying to get as much dirt under the wheels as possible. Occasionally I get in some hiking, backpacking, and bushcraft as well. My most ambitious overlanding plans include a trip to Tuktoyaktuk and Dead Horse. Sharing my experiences as a member of the Trails Offroad crew is a true pleasure. Hope to see you on the trail soon.
For individual use only, not to be shared.