Mingus (Hwy 89A)
Steepest Gradient (%)
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Cycling Highway 89A from Clarkdale to Mingus Mountain.
Ride 12.2 miles gaining 3,465’ at 5.1% average grade.
Just do it! We were so pleasantly surprised by this little known climb smack dab in the middle of Arizona (with only 346 riders per Strava as of March 2016). This climb is about halfway between Sedona and Prescott on Highway 89A. We LOVED the Mingus Mountain climb for two primary reasons: (1) exceptional views back to the northeast of the spectacular Sedona mesa formations (as seen below). . .
. . . and (2) the late 19th century restored copper mining town of Jerome. After a couple of giant switchbacks at miles 3-4, we ride right through the very popular artist community of Jerome, which has a similar feel to rides through small Pyrenees villages in France. We suggest riding the 12.2 mile climb, then having lunch or coffee back at Jerome, since this is close to the halfway point up the mountain.
The first copper claim was staked in Jerome in 1876, and by 1883 Jerome was a mining boomtown. Originally, copper was mined via tunnels. However, due to devastating fires occasionally erupting in the 88 miles of tunnels under the city, the mining process switched to open pit mining, which involves blasting with dynamite. The open pit blasting caused many of Jerome’s hillside buildings to slide down hill -- the county jail slid 225 feet and now rests on the other side of the street from its original location.
Billions of dollars of copper was mined in and around Jerome in the late 19th and early 20th century. The last mine closed in Jerome in 1953 and the boomtown, with a population at its peak of around 15,000 people, dropped as low as 50 in the late 1950’s.
Jerome saw a resurgence in the 60’s and 70’s as it became somewhat of an artists’ community (along with the likes of Sedona to the northeast). The Jerome Historical Society was formed in 1953 and has preserved much of the old mining town along with 11,000 photos, maps, historical documents, and more. Bring a lock for your bike and visit the Jerome Mine Museum located on Main Street if you have time.
Photos above are from Jeromehistoricalsociety.com.
Traffic and Roadway Surface Report: The roadway is in excellent condition and although there is a lot of traffic on this Highway, toward the top it does travel at slower speeds than traffic at the bottom.