Scenic USA - Arizona

Woodchute Wilderness

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Woodchute Wilderness - Jerome, Arizona

Photo by Eric Noel
Eric's Woodchute Wilderness Gallery

   Climbing up from the Prescott Valley on Arizona's Route 89A, a zig-zag cluster of switchbacks weave through the thick forests of Mingus Mountain. Part of the Prescott National Forest, the area around Jerome is a pleasant change from the treeless desert to the east. Ahead on Route 89A travelers find the towns of Jerome, Clarkdale, Cottonwood and Arizona's most famous tourist town, Sedona.
   During its mining heyday, Jerome was the third largest town in Arizona. Jerome State Historic Park captures the story of this boomtown, offering exhibits and displays at the mine owner's home, Douglas Mansion.
   During full scale mining operations, loggers cleared the mountains to the northwest, an area rich in ponderosa pine. Thousands of logs were sent down the mountainside in a chute. Jerome's narrow gage railroad picked up the logs, and delivered timbers to the mine.
   Today, the Woodchute Wilderness bears a name of the mine's logging operation, as well as a few faded scars embedded in the land. The small wilderness, just under 6000 acres, has seen a remarkable recovery. The climb over Woodchute Trail #102 passes over a land of ancient volcanic ash, dotted with juniper and pinion pine. Higher elevations lead through a new growth of ponderosa pine. From the top, a flat mesa at 7800 feet, offers hikers a splendid view of the distant San Francisco peaks and Verde Valley.
   This misty view catches the Woodchute Forest dusted with a fine layer of winter white. Managed by the forest service, Woodchute is a popular day hike for Jerome's residents and their visitors.

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