Woodchute Mountain P2K RS
Hickey Mountain P500
Mingus Mountain P750
Mt. Union P2K
Moscow Peak

Thu, Oct 20, 2022

With: Eric Smith

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile


We'd left Sedona the previous afternoon, driving southwest on SR89A through Cottonwood into the Prescott NF just to the west. We stopped in the old mining town of Jerome (now an upscale touristy place) for dinner before continuing higher to our camp for the night. We found plenty of dispersed camping near the Woodchute Trailhead where we would start in the morning. This was a far cry better than the severe camping restrictions in place around Sedona.

Woodchute Mountain

This P2K is the highpoint of the Black Hills and the Woodchute Wilderness, and is found in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles. The Woodchute Trail starts south of the peak and runs north across the length of this small Wilderness. It is a very nice trail with easy gradients, well-marked junctions, and good views for the first half of the route. We started shortly before sunrise, plying the trail for about 3mi, taking and hour and a quarter. We then left the trail, turning west for the last quarter mile of easy cross-country through the open forest. We found a small cairn and a benchmark marking the highpoint (though it isn't obvious on the summit plateau exactly where that might be), but no register. On the way back, Eric wanted to follow Andrew Kirmse's track to the northeast where an overlook is found while I wanted to go hike another peak, so we parted ways for a few hours. I went back along the trail by myself, returning to the TH shortly after 9:30a.

Hickey Mountain

This summit is found a few miles southwest of the Woodchute TH and has more than 500ft of prominence. After returning to the Jeep, I went off on a dirt road to the west, past where we'd camped the previous evening. The road becomes much rougher after passing through an unlocked gate. Recent rains had left mudholes scattered along the roadway. I was able to drive about half the distance to the summit before parking where the road veers south and away from it. A trip report on PB by John McCafferty describes the route as a "simple climb with easy route finding, minor bushwhacking, and great views," and so it proved to be. The route from the northeast follows the ridgeline, indistinct at first but growing more pronounced as one nears the summit. Forested to start, the trees give way to moderate brush closer to the summit, leaving views on the rocky summit open in all directions. I spent about 3/4hr to reach the summit and a similar amount on the way back. There is a good view of Peak 7,334ft to the southwest that at least one other person had combined with a climb of Hickey, but it looked terribly brushy from my vantage point. I decided to leave it unvisited. I left one of my registers at the summit before returning the same way.

Mingus Mountain

This summit with nearly 800ft of prominence lies south of SR89A and is only 45ft shorter than Woodchute. It does not lie within any Wilderness and one can nearly drive to the summit. There is a hang glider launch pad nearby that overlooks the steep escarpment to the southeast. I first visited the lower lookout tower about a mile to the southwest, which would also be a drive-up save for the locked gate about 1/3mi from the summit. I parked and started up the road, meeting Eric briefly who was on his way down. I would catch up with him at the higher point shortly. The tower is a tall one, but a chainlink fence locks out visitors. A USFS truck was parked adjacent to it, its driver busy prepping the lookout residence for rental purposes. Not much in the way of views without ascending the tower.

I next drove to the end of the road atop Mingus Mtn where Eric had just watched a pilot take off from the launch pad ten minutes earlier. The white glider was about halfway down to the valley below when I arrived. We walked the trail along the escarpment edge a short distance before seeking out the proscribed highpoint nearby. It was clear that the points on PB and LoJ were likely not the highpoint, but the true highpoint would be difficult to discern with any accuracy due to the flatness of the terrain. We called it good before heading back towards the vehicles.

Mt. Union

While I had been driving back from Hickey Peak, I'd come across the idea of driving west to Prescott and Mt. Union, another P2K. I had a few other ideas in mind as well, but when I suggested them to Eric for consideration, he immediately hit on Mt. Union even though it would be out of his way for his drive home the next day. P2Ks are a powerful draw among peakbaggers. And so we spent the next couple of hours driving back down to SR98A, then southwest towards Prescott, then once again up into the higher forested mountains south of town. There is much new development in these hills and the forest roads have been well-graded to accomodate the increased traffic. The developments extend all the way to near the very summit of Mt. Union, which consequently could have been a drive-up. I say "could have" because we did not turn at the proper junction to reach the summit, but stopped short about a mile below it. No matter, we could use some afternoon exercise. We spent about 20min hiking the road to the summit where a lookout stands, though closed to the public. We found a benchmark and a register among the nearby summit rocks. The register was left by Wade Luther and his Meet Up group in 2019 and had quite a few pages of entries. We added our names before heading back, using a bit of cross-country to shortcut the roadway. After returning to our vehicles, we drove about a mile to the east on the continuing forest road to find a campsite at a saddle SE of Mt. Union. It was a fine location with a fire ring, quiet, and level ground to park our vehicles for sleeping. It would suffice nicely for the night.

Moscow Peak

It was just past 3:30p, not quite time to call it quits. I noted that Moscow Peak was only 2/3mi to the south from our campsite. I tried to entice Eric into joining me, but he would not be drawn in - he was done for the day. My GPSr showed a trail running along the ridgeline but that didn't really exist. The Yankee Doodle Trail starts from our campsite and runs south, but it stays low on the western side of the ridge and not all that helpful. So I headed off along the very top of the ridge, happy to find that there was no real bushwhacking to this one. There are, however, several minor bumps along the way that have to be surmounted in turn. I found a few ducks and vestiges of a use trail, but nothing really helpful. I spent about 20min covering the distance to the summit which has less than 200ft of prominence and modest views. On my way back, I sought to avoid the extra up and down over the intermediate bumps, so I dropped low on the west side to pick up the Yankee Doodle Trail. It was further down the ridge than I would have guessed, or liked, and in the end I don't think it saved me any time or effort. I was back to camp by 4:30p, happy now to join Eric for refreshments and campfire...


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This page last updated: Thu Oct 27 11:13:13 2022
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