Out and about: Woodchute Trail: beautiful scenery in cool mountain air at 7,000 feet

A view from Mingus Mountain on the Woodchute Trail. Photo/Stan Bindell

A view from Mingus Mountain on the Woodchute Trail. Photo/Stan Bindell

PRESCOTT, Ariz. - The Woodchute Trail offers great scenery, flowers, butterflies, horny toads and pine trees up at 7,000 feet for a cool summer hike.

Gary Beverly led a Sierra Club hike on Woodchute Trail to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Yavapai Group of the Sierra Club is leading hikes to visit the 19 wilderness areas in Yavapai County, and this was one of them.

"I like this hike because it's easy, close to town, great vistas of the Verde Valley, very nice Ponderosa pine forest on top and good company with other hikers," Beverly said.

Throughout this year, the Arizona Wilderness Coalition is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. In Arizona, the Wilderness Act helped to create and protect 90 wilderness areas from the Sonoran desert to the Mogollon Rim. Key players in creating the Arizona Wilderness Act included Rep. Morris Udall and Sen. Barry Goldwater.

The Arizona Wilderness Coalition defines wilderness as "areas where the earth and its communities of life are left unchanged by people, where the primary forces of nature are in control, and where people themselves are visitors who do not remain."

Woodchute Trail, part of the Woodchute Wilderness, is about seven miles roundtrip. Those looking for more mileage can hook into Rick Tank Trail or Martin Canyon Trail.

The Woodchute Trail starts at just under 7,000 feet and slowly climbs about 825 feet. The trail is rated as easy to moderate.

The Woodchute Trail comes with a history. The timber from Woodchute Mountain fueled smelters in Jerome. A log chute sent the logs down the mountain. Some of the mines in the mountain caved in and the mine owners built a new smelter in Clarkdale.

Despite the lack of moisture this year, a good amount of flowers grow along the Woodchute Mountain Trail, but it's the view that most hikers will find inspiring because they can see Jerome and the Verde Valley below along with other mountains off in the distance. The San Francisco Peaks can be seen off to the north along with Bill Williams and Kendrick mountains. Granite Mountain can be viewed to the south. The Mogollon Rim can be seen to the east.

The start of the hike, just under 7,000 feet, offers hikers a tree line view. Not long into the trek, hikers come upon Powerline Tank Wildlife Area, which has a meadow and watering tank.

Highway 89-A comes into view below. As we entered this area, we could hear guns going off from either a shooting range or hunters, but as we walked into the ponderosa pine forest those sounds disappeared. The trail starts by gently climbing along a ridge.

A bit further, the Woodchute Tank appears.

A large alligator juniper signals the top of the mountain. Shrub live oak is also found among the pine and alligator juniper trees. From the top of the mountain, hikers can see Sycamore Canyon and Sedona.

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