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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Mingus Inner Maze Loop, AZ

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Guide 19 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Prescott > Cottonwood
3.5 of 5 by 6
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,400 feet
Elevation Gain 411 feet
Accumulated Gain 475 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 3-4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 7.38
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
3  2017-04-13
Mingus the Butterfly & I
6  2017-04-13
Mingus the Butterfly & I
9  2016-05-29
Mingus the Butterfly & I
21  2013-10-12
Mingus Meander - Part Deux
20  2013-10-12
Mingus Meander - Part Deux
30  2009-11-29 JimmyLyding
15  2007-10-14 PrestonSands
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Sep, May, Aug, Jun → Early
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:13am - 6:33pm
Official Route
5 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Maze on Mingus
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
Overview: The Butterfly Trail is a primitive route that follows closed logging roads on the north end of Mingus Mountain. Its main attractions are secluded forest and distant views off the north side of Mingus Mountain. You can also use the Butterfly Trail as a connector between the Woodchute Trail and the View Point/North Mingus Trails. Despite the multiple trail signs and numerous cairns, this trail is tricky to follow, so I strongly recommend using a gps unit or taking good mental notes to avoid getting lost.

Two trailheads access this trail: the east trailhead at Mingus Work Center, and the west trailhead at Butterfly Spring along forest road 104. Both trailheads have a vertical brown signpost for trail #536. This description starts at the west trailhead. For an easier and less confusing adventure, just hike to the edge of Mingus and back from the east trailhead.

Hike: At the west trailhead (34.70581 N, 112.13939 W), there is a rocky path heading up a shallow drainage towards a concrete dam. A fiberglass signpost soon identifies the trail as #536. The trail crosses over to the east side of the dam, then continues north, all the while staying near the bottom of the drainage. At about 0.25 miles (34.70798 N, 112.13796 W), a cairn and a signpost mark the point where the trail leaves the creek bottom and begins climbing the north slope of the canyon. The next quarter mile is a confusing stretch of cairns and pink tape tied in trees.

The cairned route comes upon an ancient logging road at around 0.5 miles (34.71087 N, 112.13646 W). A single piece of blue tape was hanging from a tree here, when I hiked this route. Head east now, and follow the old logging road.

At around 0.75 miles, the road comes within a hundred yards of the north rim of Mingus Mountain. The edge of the mountain is visible through the trees. Leave the road here to enjoy your own private viewpoint (34.71077 N, 112.13149 W). There are some great views of the Verde Valley and the Flagstaff area from the edge.

Continuing on from the viewpoint, the road begins curving to the south, and arrives at a 4-way intersection with three other old logging roads at 1.4 miles (34.70295 N, 112.13078 W). A signpost for trail #536 now directs you to head southeast, along another old logging road. At 1.5 miles you will come to a "T" intersection (34.70209 N, 112.12956 W). Turn left (north), away from the private property sign. You will encounter another logging road on the left at 1.6 miles: keep going straight. The forest closes in now, and the pines grow taller.

Trail #536 meets trail #537 at a fork at 2.15 miles (34.70488 N, 112.12138 W). Stay right, on trail #536. The logging road soon begins to flatten out, and the forest opens up to reveal the fenced enclosure of the Mingus Work Center. Behind it is a cell phone tower and forest road #104. The logging road disappears once it arrives at the Work Center. A lone fiberglass signpost for trail #536 marks the end of the Butterfly Trail (34.70146 N, 112.11924 W), on the south side of the Work Center.

If you've made it this far, you can return the way you came, or take the easy way back (forest road #104).

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2008-01-09 PrestonSands
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Mingus Inner Maze Loop
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Mingus the Butterfly & I
what do you do when life offers you robin eggs? hold your hand out...duh

i unexpectedly got thursday off so i checked the list of hikes i wanted to do and texted Count Tacula, consulted Gumdrop and next thing you know, we had a plan!

great hike in a totally new area to me. i'm sure this hike is awesome in summer and fall and hopefully i will see it during those times too, but i always enjoy spring in the mountains. everything is waking from it's winter slumber and there is such a different feel to it. the early views towards Sedona were cool and the Peaks with snow topping was an awesome sight as well

i enjoyed all the trails, though the final big climb up the Gaddes trails was probably my favorite. great weather and nice to hike with the boys again.
Mingus Inner Maze Loop
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Mingus the Butterfly & I
Nick asked if I was interested in one of my favorite hikes. Almost like stopping along the road and asking a stranger if they would be interested in some robbin eggs... duh!

Road gates were locked so we started from the road to Potato Patch Campground. This worked out well as it was a chilly 52 degrees. This allowed us to knock out the low elevation stuff first, which is probably always prefered.

I'm a huge fan of Mingus and all the trails. That said, summer and autumn are best in my opinion. The dominate oaks and accent maples are still in winter mode. Despite being cooler we still felt toasty at times. Everything is relative, when it's 25 degrees warmer in the summer it's still seriously cooler than the Valley!

Pretty quiet on the mountain. Just one elder couple walking the roads up top. They may have got in the back road as that gate was open. Signs were out for fire control crews but we never encountered any. Did spot several new slash piles heading over to upper Coleman Trail #108. It's still brush free. Usually hit it in the beginning of the loop. Noticed after 11 miles on the legs it's a little rockier than memory served.

My fav Gaddes Canyon Two is a tad drab without leaves. Imagine it'll be nice and shady in a few weeks.

I'll probably hold off posting the one photo I took in all the breaks of the day. Nick and I did our best to hold back the hairy beast. Seriously, he needs to go to Mexico pronto to take care of the Kramer Shag!

The boys treated to dinner and somehow I got to pick. Decided to support local with Guido's Pizza in the bustling metro of Dewey AZ! Wiki reports a population of 3,894 in 2014. They were busier with take out than I would have expected for 4-5pm on a Thursday. It won't make any best of lists, hit the spot for hungry hikers!
Mingus Inner Maze Loop
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Mingus the Butterfly & I
With ten minutes to figure out a hike I pulled this up in Route Scout. A personal favorite I designed for Autumn 2013.

Only crossed paths with 1 other hiker on Coleman. Near perfect weather on this fab figure eight loop.

Might be easier to take 89A down to Mescal than short cutting through the locust thickets. Not a scratch and the foxtails are currently friendly, just saying. A little trouble figuring out the trail on Bug Hollow Trail #548 near the 6,600 contour. Over half the ascent is in the last 5 miles. No biggie with the breeze. Took an early and late nap.

Did pass a family taking flowers up to the grave site Bruce visits when we pass the area. Believe they called it the the Indian grave.

carried 4 quarts, about 4 ounces unused

paintbrush, a sprig of lupine, a large field of unknown yellows and another of whites
Mingus Inner Maze Loop
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Mingus Exploration Day 2
The second day, I resolved to do two things that would allow for more hiking: an early start, and staying at the higher elevations. I accomplished both and had a much better day.

The Mingus fire lookout is accepting visitors and we spent some time talking while I was enjoying the cool breezes you get up in the fire tower.

I watched 2 parasailers and one hang glider take off. Looks fun, but not sure that I'll ever be able to be convinced to do the hang gliding takeoff.

My search for the Mingus View Trail failed completely. There are no signs acknowledging its existence whatsoever. I must have cruised past the turnoff, but it is anybody's guess where it starts.
Mingus Inner Maze Loop
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Mingus Meander - Part Deux
If you bounce around this thing called life thinking it's mountains, creeks and leaves flickering in the wind you are blind. Personally I think you are the luckiest person on earth.

7am - A warmer than anticipated 41 degrees accompanied us along our planned loop. Spotty patches of snow caught the attention of my nerves. Luckily that was end of the death blanket. We took the short stroll down Gaddes Canyon #110 to the real canyon...

Gaddes Canyon Two Trail #9037 is among my favorite stretches on Mingus. It is a beautiful forested ravine. No real perks. Simple canyon beauty with more evidence of bears than squirrels.

This was my first trip going up Coleman Trail #108. It seemed better than memory served. The secret is the overlook NW of 7282. Perhaps 7282 would merit a story political wannabes could toss money at detail lacking articles in transportation publications.

Our warm-up portion of the figure eight loop was complete. Back at the truck we indulged in Debbie's homemade monkey-cake to give the war on cholesterol a pat on the back. Next up was a partial new route from Lyding/Whiteman sources on West Rim Trail #538 to wrap us around the NW of Mingus. We passed through young dense pines on fading roads until we stumbled upon victory...

Butterfly Trail #536 is a nice route that explores upper Haywood Canyon. At least that was our experience on it's lowest quarter mile.

After passing through a parking lot marked as benchmark 7022 on topo I had a satellite drawn route to get us a little over a quarter mile down to Upper Mescal Trail #550. Bruce took it to heart looking for a trail... then he found a trail... naturally I took credit for my superior planning abilities. It quickly petered out.

The east portion of Upper Mescal Trail #550 is heaven for a tiny slice. Bug Hollow Trail #548 brings out the vista lover in you. We took the North Mingus Trail #105 highway back to Autumnfest along its upper stretches with #105A and #106. The invitations were messed up, that's next week! If you love autumn, check it out in a week or two. If you love a good hike, go anytime it's warm :y:

A good week early. Nice pockets in the colder dips of the ravines.

Enjoyable subtle accents throughout portions of our loop.
Mingus Inner Maze Loop
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Mingus Meander - Part Deux
:FG: In search of Red October. :FG:

Because of the idiots in Washington, like the rest of the improved areas in the state, the Mingus area was closed/locked for camping, bathrooms locked, trash cans taken away. Even the $5.00 day use envelopes were taken away, so it's a day of free hiking.

I've been to the Mingus area now 10 or so times times and still can't figure out why this area does not get more hikers. There are trails of all different skill levels, lengths and elevation gains. Temps are always 20 degrees cooler than the valley, and tree cover abounds. Other than Woodchute Mountain, I've seen no more than 4 hikers total.

We parked up top and started hiking to the South into Gaddes Canyon with scattered spots of snow, frost on the ground and 40 degree temps. The canyon is mainly oak and walnut and little color to be found. There was plenty sign of bear, some pretty recent. A pretty trail. A short walk up FR413 and we were on the Colman Trail. It's a short steep climb to some excellent views to the South and then once on top, to the north and east. From my last hike up here I remembered not liking this trail, but I must have misremembered, it's actually quite nice.

Now on top, we stopped back at the truck for a snack and to pick up additional moisture for the remaining 12 miles.

The Butterfly Trail was the next memorable area up there. While no butterfly's were spotted, its a scenic trail in a little canyon with plenty of tree cover, a spring and small tank. After a road walk, we went cross country on a "Faint" trail to get to the scenic Upper Mescal Trail until it met up with the Bug Hollow Trail. Both very pleasant trails.

North Mingus, Mingus and the View Point Trail all connect to take you around the north side of Mingus Mountain and then ultimately climb steeply up the western face back to the parking area.

The first decent color all day was 2/3rds of the way in on the North Mingus Trail and was just a pocket 100 yards or so long. The final color was spotted at the end on the View Point Trail.

People, get out and enjoy this area.......

Isolated pockets of yellow/red maple. Majority of deciduous makeup is oak in the area. Still a week or two early for the best color
Mingus Inner Maze Loop
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After work night hike from Butterfly Tank to the church camp. Hiked back on FR 104. It was downright chilly with a strong wind whipping through the pines, and pitch black due to cloud cover. A trio of squirrels were watching me from a ponderosa, their brilliant reflective eyes startled me at first. The maples in Yaeger Canyon were just starting to change, no color on the oaks yet.
Mingus Inner Maze Loop
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A clockwise loop of trail 537, old 536 all the way to the north point of Mingus, then south on the North Mingus Trail to the hang glider ramp. I followed the road back to my truck at Butterfly Spring in the fading twilight, seeing several deer along the way. It was nice to experience some cool weather on this wickedly hot day. :sweat:
Mingus Inner Maze Loop
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A pumpkin day needs a better ending, so I ditched the work truck and ambled off aimlessly into the Mingus woods at night, following Butterfly #536. Having hiked all the other branches recently, I turned onto a branch signed as "dead end" and turned on my headlamp. I soon came to a "T" in the ancient road with a "dead end" and a "no trespassing" sign. "Not tonight, sign!", I thought, and turned left, pushing deeper into the spooky woods along a vaguely familiar route. The old logging road rambled east, passing the north edge of the mountaintop and a pair of unsettling, reflective green eyes. Stumbling onto the North Mingus Trail near the north point of Mingus, I turned south and followed it and then the road a couple of miles back to the truck, enjoying the stars and peaceful forest bathed in pale moonlight. The day ended on a better note. Time spent in nature improves everything.
Mingus Inner Maze Loop
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I came upon the east trailhead's signpost at the Mingus Work Center while hiking the Viewpoint-North Mingus loop. Driving home I found the west TH at Butterfly Spring. So I returned the next day to explore this mystery trail with no name. The hike went well at first, until I left Haywood Canyon. From there it was guesswork for a while as to whether or not I was "on trail". Cairns continued, so I did. Finally came across some more signposts, and eventually made it to the east TH. I returned the same way, but this time I got off route on the west end, where it drops into Haywood Canyon. I soon rejoined the route (thanks gps!), and returned to the west TH. A call to the Prescott National Forest's trail boss netted the name "Butterfly Trail". No longer a mystery!

Permit $$

Prescott Forest
Prescott National Forest Pass

Only trailheads with six "amenities" have fees. Amenities are picnic tables, trash, toilet, parking, interpretive signing and security.

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
WEST TRAILHEAD: From the Highway 89/Highway 89A junction just north of Prescott, head east on Highway 89A, towards Jerome, for 18.9 miles. At the top of the mountain (milepost 336.6), turn right onto forest road 104, and follow it for 0.95 miles to the sharp curve in the road, where it crosses a small canyon. There will be a concrete dam visible in the canyon above the road. A rocky path, marked by a fiberglass trail signpost, heads for the dam.

EAST TRAILHEAD: From the Highway 89/Highway 89A junction just north of Prescott, head east on Highway 89A, towards Jerome, for 18.9 miles. At the top of the mountain (milepost 336.6), turn right onto forest road 104, and follow it for 2.5 miles to the "T" road junction at Mingus Campground. Turn left at the "T", and follow forest road 104 north for 0.55 miles to the Mingus Work Center building on the left. There is a fiberglass trail signpost that is about 50 feet to the west of the Work Center fence, and 50 feet north of forest road 104. Walk around to the back side of the Work Center. A faint old road (Butterfly Trail #536) takes off into the forest away from the Work Center.
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