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Sunday, August 16, 2009

GADDES CANYON

GADDES CANYON Prescott National Forest Perched on a mountaintop above Jerome, the Mingus Mountain Lookout tower soars over the old-growth pine trees that clutter the peak. Winds churned up from the cool, surrounding canyons clamor up the slopes whipping around the guy wires that strain to steady the groaning metal structure that seems to pierce the clouds. A series of rickety stairs lead to the depression–era cabin atop the 60-foot fire tower. Beneath the tower, a tiny house sits in a clearing overlooking Prescott Valley and serves as cozy refuge for fire lookouts. Although there are many ways to get to this lookout, one of the most scenic approach is via the Gaddes Canyon Trail #110. Mostly canyon-bound, the trail crawls up the eastern flanks of Mingus Mountain, ducking in-and-out of forests of juniper and scrub oak, sunny meadows and rocky ledges where glimpses of vertical canyon walls emerge from the timberlands at every turn. On the summit, a picnic table surrounded by a showy mix of wildflowers including Buffalo Bur, New Mexico Yellow Flax and wild roses, makes for a relaxing lunch break before heading back down the canyon. HIGHLIGHTS: historic fire tower, pine forests, views of Prescott Valley LENGTH: 5.2 miles roundtrip RATING: moderate ELEVATION RANGE: 6,773 - 7,743 feet DRIVING DISTANCE FROM PHOENIX: 145 miles GETTING THERE: From Prescott, follow Highway 89A north for 25 miles to Mingus Mountain Road (Forest Road 104). Turn right and continue 1.5 miles to Allen Springs Road (Forest Road 413). Turn right and follow FR 413 for 3 miles to the signed trailhead. INFORMATION: 928-777-2200 fs.fed.us/r3/prescott/recreation/trails/verde/gaddescan110.shtml

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