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Upper Mescal Trail #550, AZ

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Guide 15 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Prescott > Cottonwood
3.2 of 5 by 5
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 1 mile
Trailhead Elevation 6,946 feet
Elevation Gain -224 feet
Accumulated Gain 109 feet
Avg Time One Way 0.75
Kokopelli Seeds 1.36
Backpack Possible & 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
6  2015-08-09
Bug Hollow Trail #548
10  2015-05-02
Mingus North - Inner Basin
27  2014-07-14
Bug Hollow Trail #548
21  2013-10-12
Mingus Meander - Part Deux
20  2013-10-12
Mingus Meander - Part Deux
Page 1,  2
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   May, Sep, Oct, Aug → Any
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:11am - 6:37pm
Official Route
9 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Mingus shorty
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
Overview: Conveniently located near the Mingus Summit on Highway 89A, the Upper Mescal Trail #550 meanders along Mingus Mountain's forested slopes and deposits one into Mescal Gulch. It can also be hiked in conjunction with its connecting trails: Mescal Trail #547 and Bug Hollow Trail #548.

Hike: From its trailhead along Highway 89A, the Upper Mescal Trail heads south through a fence next to a "550" signpost, following the route of a closed road. The trail gently descends to a large, grassy flat with a few scattered ponderosa pines, where the route fades into a foot path and continues in an east-southeast direction. One needs to watch carefully for cairns to remain on route in this area.

The trail reaches the far end of the grassy flat at 0.3 miles atop a little rise and crosses through a fence below an elevated telephone line. Beyond this point the Upper Mescal Trail is easier to follow, as the old roadbed becomes apparent again.

Having left the grassy flat, the trail enters pine forest and begins a gradual descent into a sloping basin at the head of Mescal Gulch. The roadbed portion ends abruptly at about 0.8 miles, where the trail makes a sharp left next to a cairn. Continuing now as a footpath, the trail drops into a shallow, oak filled ravine, to begin its final descent.

After a 0.25 mile descent from the end of the roadbed, the Upper Mescal Trail reaches its end at a signed junction with the Bug Hollow Trail #548. To reach the Mescal Trail #547, turn left and follow the Bug Hollow Trail for a few hundred feet.

One nice return hike option is to hang a left on the Bug Hollow Trail and follow it back to its beginning along Highway 89A, just 0.3 miles down the highway from the Upper Mescal trailhead. See the Bug Hollow Trail #548 hike for more information on this option.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2012-07-08 PrestonSands

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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 of 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Upper Mescal Trail #550
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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.
    Upper Mescal Trail #550
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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!
    Upper Mescal Trail #550
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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
    Upper Mescal Trail #550
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    Back to one of my favorite hikes with my fiance and my sister. My sister's first visit to Mingus. It was nice to be out hiking again after pretty much taking the whole summer off. Beautiful weather, with some light rain here and there throughout the hike.

    We started from the Upper Mescal TH, took Bug Hollow, then Mescal and Bug Hollow back to the highway, and walked the highway for a few mins to complete the loop. Didn't see a single other hiker, as always. It always amazes me how empty these trails are, even on the weekends.
    Upper Mescal Trail #550
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    Mingus North - Inner Basin
    A redux of a hike we did almost 3 years ago. Going CCW this time made the off trail a much easier downhill. With the added bonus of finding a use trail to replace a thick bushwhack.

    Old 503a extension > Mescal > Bug Hollow > Off Trail to Upper Mescal > Powerline > Off trail to North Mingus > FR > Old MTB trail > J-P Wagon Road

    May the Weather stay like this the rest of the year, for this couple welterweights. It was perfect on the day. Clouds and brief very light sprinkles kept the temps down.

    Bug Hollow and Upper Mescal are the highlights on the day for the thick tree cover. (Best viewed in the Autumn). The recently cleared Powerline trail does yield some big views to the north, past Sedona and to "The Peaks", Bill Williams, Sitgreaves and Kendrick.
    Upper Mescal Trail #550
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    Mingus North - Sands Mint Julep Loop II
    Returned to this classic I threw together and Bruce streamlined in 2012. Temps forecasted around 71 degrees held well. It had it's warm moments in the sun. Ultimately big fluffy clouds made the day. I love this mountain and the variety it offers.

    Bruce suggested we flip the direction of travel to ccw. That decision along with a pinch of experience put this hike into the virtual breeze category.

    The Powerline Trail #549 has been seriously cleared so that was a nice surprise. Our little off trail jaunt over Mescal Ridge ( no name really ) was perfected today. Last time we found partial use-trails on each side. Today we scored use-trails the entire way!

    Down in Hull Canyon, near Walnut Spring, Bruce slipped and gashed his finger. Luckily he survived applying pressure and setting a makeshift bandage. Next found a nice spot to lunch near an old city of Jerome tank.

    All and all a pleasant day hike. Instead of bushwhacking a few areas we danced around the mahogany demons unscathed. We left in what sounded like a motorcycle rally. Which seems typical for weekend afternoons on Mingus.

    Cliff-Rose and yellow flowered bush dominated the upper end of #503A, lupine, skyrocket, thistle & paintbrush
    Upper Mescal Trail #550
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    My first hike in the area, and actually my first time in the Black Hills/Mt. Mingus area at all. The drive up to the trailhead from Prescott Valley was very scenic, and I knew I had an awesome hike ahead of me. I did the figure 8 loop with the Bug Hollow, Mescal and Upper Mescal trails, as described by a few triplogs here. Didn't see another soul out there today. :)

    I started from the Upper Mescal trailhead, which is easy to miss as it immediately slopes down from the highway. The weather was almost perfect today. I was praying there wouldn't be any thunderstorms. It threatened to rain several times, but it never did. Started around 8:30am, and with all the cloud cover it felt like it was 70 degrees. It was pretty humid though, so I was still drenched.

    Starting out on the Upper Mescal trail there's a nice green meadow before the trail takes a turn into the forest. The forest is very dense, which I wasn't really expecting for some reason. Much more dense than the Bradshaws on the other side of Prescott, it seems. Seems like a very healthy forest. The trail was narrow and overgrown through here but not hard to follow. You come to a junction with the Bug Hollow and Mescal trails soon enough. The Bug Hollow trail is an old road so it's wide and easy to follow for the most part. The forest is still dense here for another mile or so until you hit another small, open meadow with mostly chaparral and junipers. When the clouds cleared periodically it got pretty hot up here, but it didn't last long. Great views of the surrounding mountains, and you can even see the San Francisco Peaks and Kendrick in the distance.

    Where the Bug Hollow trail ends you have to walk a very gnarly looking road for a minute to find the Mescal trail. You're right next to the highway until you enter the forest again. This section through Mescal Gulch was probably my favorite part of the hike. Very lush and green, with a lot of little white wildflowers here and there. This is also where most of the climbing is so I got a little bit of a workout before joining back up with Bug Hollow.

    I chose to take Bug Hollow back to its trailhead and walk the quarter mile of 89A back to my trailhead, and I'm glad I did. About a half mile before I got back I saw what I think were a couple adult turkeys, with 6 or 7 babies following behind them, right on the trail maybe 50 feet away. I startled them and they scurried off into the trees. Just when I was starting to feel disappointed by the lack of wildlife. Excellent way to end a great day hike. Only had my cell phone camera so all I got was a horribly blurry photo of them walking away.

    After my hike I took a little road trip through Jerome, Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Cornville, Page Springs, and finally Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. A few of those were firsts for me. Had an amazing day exploring the Verde Valley and the red rocks of Sedona. Drove home feeling proud to be an Arizonan, but wondering why I live in Phoenix instead of up here... :?
    Upper Mescal Trail #550
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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.
    Upper Mescal Trail #550
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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
    Upper Mescal Trail #550
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    Mingus North - Sands Mint Julep Loop
    I threw together a collage of Preston Sands(aka "the yeti") routes with a new feature on MapDEX called Plot Routes in View. Bruce worked it a little to eliminate a 2.5mi segment on the paved highway.

    The alarm tortured the ear drums mid coma. The decision came quick... screw Piestewa, I'm sleeping. Ah back to dreamla... wait a minute, this is big hike day... let's go!

    With a forecasted high of 75 and 50% rain my concern was warmth so in went the umbrella, pants and long sleeve shirt.

    Jerome-Prescott Wagon Road #503A
    Our journey was a descent. It was pleasant, enjoyable and very nice views along the way. The bottom end is steepish. I prefer other hikes in the area more.

    Off Trail
    From our low point on 89A we headed up a road then off-trailed through the undesirable for under a half mile. Luckily we merged into some sort of unknown trail.

    North Mingus Trail #105
    We took the 105 for about 2.1mi. I prefer the upper stretches of the 105 but it was nince to finally see this end too.

    Off Trail 2
    Next we followed Preston's previous 600ft off-trail route up a ravine to Powerline Trail #549. It wasn't too brushy yet once cured my curiosity.

    Powerline Trail #549
    This old jeep road has twenty year old pines reclaiming the road. It's a little brushy but nothing bad. The views are most enjoyable. If this was better maintained and had a non-off-trail looping option I'd give it a 4 out of 5. As is I went with a 3 and figure most causal hikers would prefer to avoid.

    Bug Hollow Trail #548
    We strolled in glee on a segment of Bug Hollow. The oaks give this one a nice crisp flavor most should enjoy.

    Upper Mescal Trail #550
    This one has a very nice segment in a ravine and a short jaunt across. It also has a drab treeless segment with highway noise.

    Off Trail 3
    This was a painless jaunt to hook back up with Bug Hollow. Right next to the highway it was loaded with litter.

    Mescal Trail #547
    We took this down to almost complete our loop. I was very impressed, it reminded me of the Pinals. We were descending with the added bonus of late afternoon shade from the mountain... so that probably played into my impression.

    Off Trail 4
    Just a short quarter mile on an old jeep road to complete the loop. Old 1930-1950s car in the drainage.

    I don't even know what this word means. Randal uses it at the end of his triplogs so it's gotta be cool. Preston's Mint Julep Loop was fun to learn up on Mingus. 548 is a definite game player come Autumn. 503A is one-and-done for me. The others are toying with my emotions.

    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
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From the junction of U.S. Highway 89 and U.S. Highway 89A just north of Prescott, drive east on U.S. Highway 89A toward Jerome approximately 18.8 miles to the Mingus Summit (the turnoff to Mingus Mountain and Woodchute Mountain). Continue on Highway 89A for another 0.6 miles to the trailhead on the right, located at mile 337.2. The trailhead is a small dirt parking lot/turnaround area next to the highway. Upper Mescal Trail #550 leaves the south side of the trailhead next to a "550" trail signpost, and follows a closed road downhill (see hike description).
    page created by PrestonSands on Jul 08 2012 1:20 am
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