Woodchute Mountain 7840′
Total Time: 3 hours
Roundtrip Mileage: 6.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1600′
Trailhead: Woodchute Trail #102
Woodchute Mountain in Central Arizona is a broad plateau standing over Verde Valley. The remnants of an ancient volcano, Woodchute is one of Arizonas’s 73 summits with over 2000′ of prominence, a list I had been sorely neglecting. So with a couple hours to spare while my wife and mother-in-law were exploring the Verde Canyon Railroad, I decided to tick another P2K off the list. I followed 89A up through Cottonwood and Clarkdale and started up the mountain through the interesting town of Jerome, perched on a steep slope halfway up Woodchute. Heading through town, I continued driving up the mountain to the broad saddle formed by Woodchute and the slightly lower but more developed Mingus Mountain. Turning off towards Woodchute, I soon passed a “trailhead” for Woodchute Trail #102. In reality, this would add 0.7 miles of road hiking each way, so I continued along the decent but muddy dirt road to the actual trailhead.
Passing through a closed gate, I followed the trail through a dense Ponderosa Pine forest, which I assumed I would be in for the majority of the hike. But the trail soon crested a ridgeline, and the views opened up across Verde Valley to Sedona and the San Francisco Peaks covered in snow. The trail slowly snaked along the ridge with the broad summit plateau lying ahead.
The grade was gradual and the trail in good shape, although there were some small patches of ice from a storm a few days prior. After a short drop to a saddle, I crossed the boundary with Woodchute Wilderness and a junction that led to Woodchute Tank. The trail shifted to the southwest side of the ridgeline, with views of Prescott Valley and nearby Woodchute Tank below.
The trail doesn’t actually go to the summit, but continues north along the mountain side. So with the help of GPS, I left the trail and followed the vague rim of the summit plateau another 15 minutes to what was shown as the high point on my GPS. The summit is forested and a bit disorienting, and I had a difficult time sorting out the highest scrap of land, even with the GPS. After walking in circles on the summit, I finally found the register and benchmark, located about 50′ from each other. The summit register had been recently replaced, and someone (quite thoughtfully) typed up the previous summit registers into a word document, as the older ones had become water damaged.
I was surprised by how few names were in the document, less than 30 going back to 2000. But I also imagine there were people who sought out the high point and were never able to find the register, so it may be a slight underestimation. I signed my name and worked my way back to the trail, taking it uneventfully back to my car. I made it back to Clarkdale to pick up my wife and mother-in-law at the train station just as it pulled in, and from there we headed back up to Jerome for a glass of wine and a fantastic sunset over Verde Valley.