The Dogies hike Yeager Canyon
November 13, 2015
by Tom Yager
Dogie hikes are held on Tuesdays. When I got up and looked out the window, I was pleased that it was a beautiful blue sky day. We had cancelled 3 out of the last 5 Dogie hikes due to bad weather. We met in Cottonwood to carpool to the trailhead, and twenty-one people showed up for the hike. There were warm greetings and hugs as we signed in for the hike. I was looking forward to this hike since my last name is Yager and we were to hike Yaeger Canyon. I tried to find out how the canyon got its name (without success), but assumed it was probably named after the Yaeger Canyon Mine at the base of Mingus Mountain. This mine was first operated in 1890 for copper, and secondarily for gold and silver. It was last operated in 1949.
The hike start was about 20 miles west of Cottonwood on 89A. We drove up to and through the winding roads of Jerome, which is an old mining town having spectacular views of Sedona off in the distance. We went over a pass below the heights of Mingus Mountain and dropped down to the trailhead.
The 21 person group split into two smaller hiking groups, and the hike started at an elevation of 6000 feet with a nice cool 70oF temperature. We hiked parallel to 89A through a pinion and juniper forest and met up with Trail 28 where the trail became steep with switchbacks. As we quickly gained elevation the landscape became rockier through limestone deposits decorated with scattered agave and prickly pears. We took some breather breaks along the way to enjoy the vista of the broad tan Prescott Valley surrounded by forested hills.
As we proceeded up the steep slope, we saw ahead where the trail leveled out. There was an intersection of trails and an out cropping of rocks, which made a comfortable snack break with a spectacular view. Nearby there was wooden monument that someone placed on some rocks. The mathematicians in the group translated the symbols at the bottom to read “I ate some pie”. We weren’t sure if the pie brought the end to Justin. However, some people in the group said the forest service would remove the monument since it is not natural to the environment.
The Sedona Westerners Dogies hikers take a look from Mingus Mountain over Yeager Canyon- no relation to this column's author Tom Yager.
After hiking 2 ¼ miles, we neared the highest point of our hike at 7200 feet. A large alligator juniper tree was the prominent feature, along with red colored basalt rocks. A geologist in our group indicated that the basalt was a mere 6 million years old; much younger than the limestone which was several hundred million years old. Basalt is the result of volcanic eruptions; and it is interesting that the basalt at the top of the hill were red, while we observed black basalt as we descended.
At the top we took the Yeager Cabin trail (Trail 111), and followed the trail through a forest of ponderosa pine trees. The trail started down hill through a forest of small oak trees which we followed for two miles till we went through a gate in a barbed wire fence to a dirt road, Forest Service Road 414. A few minutes later we turned onto Little Yeager Canyon Trail (Trail 533) which headed down hill with switchbacks toward our starting point. On the way down we heard some gun fire off in the distance; which got louder as we got closer to our cars. It turned out to be a couple people shooting at targets, who stopped shooting as soon as the saw and heard us coming. They were very friendly and asked about the Sedona Westerners and our hike.
The hike was 6 ½ miles (by my gps) and 1600 feet of cumulative elevation gain. It took the group 4 hours including relaxing snack and lunch breaks. It was 80oF when we got back to the cars, which was 10o cooler than in Sedona. Everyone thanked the hike leaders for a wonderful way to spend a Tuesday.