Woodchute Trail in late fall. Photo by Cheryl Hartz
Woodchute Wilderness gets its name from the chute loggers used to transport shoring timbers from the north side of the mountain to railroad loading platforms that once served Jerome's copper mines.
Woodchute Trail No. 102 bisects the wilderness on a former bulldozer track. Bulldozers excavated livestock watering tanks that still catch water for area wildlife.
Traversing the south side of Woodchute Mountain, the trail opens in several places to sweeping views of the Verde Valley, Sedona's red rock country, and even the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff. The other side shows views of Prescott Valley.
The trail takes hikers and horseback riders about three miles through a fragrant second-growth Ponderosa pine, oak and alligator juniper forest to the top of Woodchute Mountain. The final ascent to 7,700 feet provides a good aerobic workout to this mostly easy hike. For those who wish to go on, it's a total of seven miles from the south trailhead to the north trailhead and FR 318A (to Jerome), with some steep switchbacks down the north side.
From State Route 89A, turn toward the Potato Patch campground at the top of Mingus Mountain. In dry weather, most vehicles can drive unmaintained Forest Road 106 the 0.3 miles to the trailhead parking area just under the power line. The Forest Service plans to move the trailhead closer to the Potato Patch campground.