Mingus Mountain • Black Hills
• Yavapai County


The road from the campground toward the top
 

Images of the "highpoint". A couple were spots in the forest, one near the cliff edge, and a little lizard on a possible highpoint rock
 

View of the towers on the south half of Mingus Mountain
 

Hang gliding sign
 

Marker at the hang-glider launch site
 

View of our humble camp
 

Mingus Mountain as viewed from the south
 

Fire way north near Humphreys Peak
 

View of the summit ridge later in the day
 

A cool juniper with distinctive alligator bark
 

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Date: June 2, 2015 • Elevation: 7,815 feet • Prominence: 793 feet • Distance: 2 miles • Time: 1 hour • Gain: 160 feet • Conditions: Blue skies and warm, full moon at night

Mingus Mountain is located in central Arizona, overlooking the Verde River Valley and the cities of Cottonwood and Clarkdale. Nearby Woodchute Mountain is the range highpoint. Woodchute and Mingus Mountains are the two main peaks of the range, being separated by a pass over which highway AZ-89A crosses. The drive and the whole area is very scenic. The historic town of Jerome is located on the north-facing slopes below Woodchute and Mingus Mountains.

Beth and I left Scottsdale around 5 p.m. and followed Interstate-17 to AZ-69 toward Prescott, then a bypass to AZ-89A, which gains steeply into the Black Hills. At exactly the highpoint of the highway, we turned right onto Forest Road 104, and followed it about two more miles. We passed the private Mingus Mountain Camp Complex, rolling into the Mingus Campground as the sun was setting. Being a Monday night, there was no one around, and we had a full moon which lit up the area in soft moonglow. The one-way drive covered 110 miles and took us a little over two hours.

In the moonglow, I walked around camp and explored the nearby hills and rock outcrops. The temperature was mild, given we were at 7,600 feet in elevation. We both slept well in the rear of the Subaru, giving my truck the time off for this trip.

The next day started clear with a steady breeze, with comfortable temperatures. I wanted to hike to the top of Mingus Mountain at some point during the day, plus explore other areas nearby. Given we were so close and the hike would be very easy, I was in no hurry. We relaxed around camp and even met the camp host and his two dogs, one who barked at us loudly at first.

Around 10 a.m., I went for my stroll up to the top. The summit of Mingus Mountain is a spot elevation of 7,815 feet, the top being flat and forested, enclosed within a single 7,800-foot contour enclosing about 80 acres. From camp, I walked the road north, gaining about 160 feet. The road bends east and aims for a small “city” of communications towers, buildings and a Verde Valley Fire Station “Work Camp”. The road is well maintained and could be driven by any vehicle. At the road’s end are a couple hang-glider jump-off ramps, this being apparently the premier hang-glider location in the state. There is a private campground up here, owned and run by the hang-glider groups. However, today there was no one here, just me.

I actually left the road a little before its end and walked north into the forest, looking for rises and trying to sense the location of the 7,815-foot spot elevation. The land seemed to rise about 10 feet, and I came upon a ponderosa with a yellow ribbon around it. Maybe someone marked this as the highpoint. I also eyeballed other soft rises and rocks that might also be the highest point. None of these spots were interesting. I took a photo at the two or three places I felt might be at or near the highpoint.

I then walked east to the rim and back toward the hang-glider ramps. I walked to the cliff edges and admired the 3,000-foot drops into the Verde Valley. I could see the streets of Cottonwood below, but there was too much haze in the atmosphere. I could barely make out the cliffs near Sedona. I then walked back to our camp, time now about 11 a.m.. I had a full day to kill and had barely broke a sweat!

Later in the afternoon, I walked south and then east to a couple of viewpoints along the rim. With the sun lower in the sky, the colors in the far-away cliffs were more evident, and I could even make out a smoke plume up on the Coconino Plateau south of Humphreys Peak.

My last hike was to the lookout tower, situated about a half-mile west of our campsite. I followed the roads and hiked to the tower, stopped by a fence and “No Trespassing” signs. Tis was unexpected, given that lookout towers usually aren’t fenced off like this. I wasn’t that interested in hopping the fence, so I returned to camp. In all, my various wanderings for the day approached about 5 miles.

We had another full moon for the evening, and we both slept well in the pleasantly-cool conditions. The next morning, we broke camp, got things packed and drove home.

Mingus Mountain isn’t much of a challenge as a hiking destination, but the whole area is very pretty with good camping options. There are other trails in the area, and loop hikes are possible that drop down off the rim, then back up, so it’s entirely possible to get a good workout hike up here, or you can be lazy like me and walk the road to the top, or even lazier and drive it.

(c) 2015 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.