Woodchute Mountain is a broad mountaintop overlooking the Verde Valley in Yavapai County, south of Sedona and north of Prescott. There are two peaks in the immediate region, Woodchute and nearby Mingus Mountain, which is a little more well-known that Woodchute, mainly for its more developed nature. However, Woodchute is the higher of the two. The fascinating old mining town of Jerome lies on the north-east facing slopes of Woodchute Mountain.
A fine trail runs nearby the summit and continues down into the Verde Valley. Most people hike this trail for its beautiful views down into the Red Rock country near Sedona, and of Humphreys Peak sitting atop the Cococnino Plateau. The summit is about a half-mile off-trail trek through grass and open forest. Finding "the top" can be a challenge: bring maps and a GPS. The views will be closed in due to nearby trees. Not surprisingly, few people take the time to leave the trail to bag this peak. Woodchute is one of the 73 Arizona peaks with 2,000 feet of prominence.
I would agree: the top is kind of uninteresting, but the hike is fun, the views over the Verde Valley are expansive, and Jerome is a great little town to poke around in afterwards. The round-trip only covers about 6 miles.
Woodchute's broad summit
Get on US-89A between Prescott and Cottonwood. When you reach the highpoint of the road at a pass just above 7,000 feet, turn north onto the Potato Patch Campground access road. Drive briefly then turn left onto a side road to a large parking area. Total mileage from the highway is less than 1/2 mile. The road continues past an unlocked gate another 1/2 mile to another parking area (follow the sign to Woodchute Trail #102). The gate is not marked against traffic. I parked in the first area, thinking the road was closed to cars, but when I walked to the second lot I found out otherwise. Others did the same. The trailhead is well-marked at this second parking area.
Note that the USGS Topo map Hickey Mountain
is inaccurate regarding the Potato Patch road. The true turnoff is just a bit south of where it's shown on the map.
The land belongs to the Prescott National Forest.
See this for latest fees and information. If you are just here to hike, there is no cost.
When To Climb
Fall through Spring is best, I think. The peak gets winter snow, but in dry spells you should have no trouble. In summer it may get a bit warm, so get an early start. As usual, beware of storminess during the late afternoon during the late summer.
A view of Humphreys Peak from the trail
Camping is available at Potato Patch, and it appears also across the highway near Mingus Mountain. Check the web site for fees and further information.
National Lampoon's Vacation
Woodchute Mountain makes a special guest appearance in this 1982 movie. When the family realizes their crazy Aunt Edna is dead, they pull off onto the side of the highway and flee their vehicle. This was shot at the lookout viewpoint on Interstate-17 south of Flagstaff just before the highway descends into Camp Verde. The broad mountain in the background is Woodchute.
The town of Jerome is about as vertical a place can get! It's an old mining town that has evolved to become a mix of bars, galleries and B&Bs. It gets crowded on weekends and is a fascinating place. The highway literally zig-zags up through town. Definitely stop in after the hike and enjoy the food, drinks, shops and scenery.