5.19.2017

Prescott: With a Side of Ranch

It was Friday morning and I had most of the day free to go ride. Where to go? Arizona is loaded with great riding destinations even for quick day trips. I kept going round & round over the towns that start with the letter 'P' for some reason. Payson, Pine, Prescott, Phoenix, Pflagstaff...ok, maybe not Flag today. I wanted to get out of Phoenix since it was going to be a bit warm and the trails in the high country were rounding into mid-season form.

There was some talk online about a decent route in Prescott that really piqued my interest. It involved the newly opened re-routed Ranch Trail, aka 62. A few friends had raved about it, so why not? The only drawback of sorts was it included a good portion of the Turley trail. I've ridden that before and quite frankly put the hurt on me. Then there was an unknown connector I'd have to find to get off Turley via a neighborhood. Sounds like my kind of ride.

I bolted from work pointing the car north towards Prescott. I was on my bike by 11am and it was 63º glorious degrees. Almost chilly!!

I strategically staged at In-n-Out so I had a post ride calorie binge waiting. The trails are easily accessed and I was on Sundog a minute after rolling out. That trail dips down to a culvert under SR69. I was surprised to see it was flowing with water!! Then the climbing begins on Badger trail. Perfect grading for almost 4 miles of uphill, simply fantastic.
Granite Mtn and buffed trail.
I came to what I thought was the Turley trail split I was looking for. I started up the trail and noted how good it was. Turley has a reputation for being, well, crappy. The vegetation was trimmed way back and the dirt packed in nicely. Then things began to get a bit choppy and loose. Was trailwork being done? Sure enough I came to a small dozer on the trail.
Packed dirt, but soft shoulders.
Was this maintenance on Turley?


I scooted around the dozer and followed the rough cut of the trail for a bit. I soon arrived at another piece of trail equipment.
Rough new dirt, but this is going to be good.
The Earth churner.


I navigated around the Earth mover to find a trail corridor in raw shape. There were occasional flags, but mostly I followed the freshly cut brush clumps. By now, I figured I was on some sort of reroute for Turley, so I kept going hoping to tie into the old alignment. That didn't last long as I soon arrived at a deadend.
The trail corridor was easy to follow at first.
A wall of Manzanita gave me the all too familiar feeling of getting epic'd.


I pulled out the Trailforks app and saw the Turley trail was about a quarter mile down the ravine. No way I was bushwhacking to it. Time to turn around. I think it was then, that I recalled a new trail in the works connecting Badger to Ranch. I didn't think the project had started yet. So far, so good.
On my way back towards Badger.
Back at the junction, I hung a left and not two minutes later came to the Turley split. Aha. I was only on Turley for about 2 miles, it wasn't too bad. A couple short HAB efforts and some loose rubble here & there. The biggest nuisance was the encroaching vegetation.

I was now on the lookout for a trail or dirt road connection over to Oak Knoll Village. I wasn't sure where this was, but thanks to the heatmap layer on Trailforks I found it easily. This popped me out on the Senator Hwy for a short bit of pavement.
Great things are happening here for the riding community.
I could see Feldmeir trail from the road, just needed to cut over to it. I found a short 2-track leading the way and I was singletrack bound. I made my way back towards the Senator Hwy and began climbing up the Ranch trail, 62.
Gaining elevation and a view of Goldwater Lake.
A few friends of the north: Bill, Kendrick, Humphrey & Old Man Mingus.


Ranch trail steadily climbed away, but at a comfortable grade. It twisted, turned and hugged the mountainside and before I knew it I crossed the Boy Scout trail and was now on the freshly rerouted portion of trail. It also meant it was mostly downhill from here to the trailhead at Walker rd. I did see some flagging about a mile or so past Boy Scout where the new trail from earlier will tie in. I didn't stop much on the way down, only to let a couple of hikers and uphill bikers through. What a blast!! The dirt is still a bit soft in spots, but you can tell it's packing in quickly as word gets out about how rad this trail is.
The older trail is packed in.
Let 'er rip.
The ever-so-popular 'life behind bars' shot. That's some good looking new dirt.


The full Ranch trail by itself is 9 1/2 miles one-way. Not a bad round trip out-n-back if you ask me.

Down at the Walker rd trailhead I hopped on trail 305 for a short bit then exited onto pavement and made a beeline for In-n-Out. What a great loop. Now that I know where I'm going, I'll have to add on a couple short loops to this one.


Route:

5.13.2017

There's Gold in the Goldfield Mtns.

A message came in from Brett asking if I had been to the north part of the Goldfield Mtns. I hadn't. All my riding so far had been to the south. I had heard reports of vague trail, HAB, steep fall-line trail, but magnificent views. I could tell from my rides in the south that the latter was true, how hard could it be?

We set up a time and met for an exploration ride of sorts. Dave joined myself and the brothers Nowacki, Brett & Scott.

We rolled out on one of the few trails I know, or thought I did. I always ride it in the other direction and promptly led us to a short bit of bushwhacking to get back on track!! I was just trying to get the ride in the correct mentality!!

The Superstitions would be our backdrop for most of the ride.
Nice rolling jeep road to get into the hills.
We were barely over a mile into the ride on a fairly tame jeep road when Brett got a flat on his plus sized tire. No worries, fresh sealant was already in it and a tire plug inserted quickly. Pssssss. Leaking from the base of the stem. Tightened up...pssssss. Hmmm, seems to be leaking at the spoke nipple? Time to break the bead on the tire. Sure enough the rim tape had shifted and seen better days. Again, no worries, throw in a tube. Brett forgot his in the car. Gah. Here, have mine, it's barely a month old, has Slime in it and is still in the wrapper. Perfect.....Fail. Tube had a large hole on the seam, likely manufacturing defect. What's next, stretch a 26" tube in there!! Installed, pump, pump, pump away. More hissing is heard, pump some more, maybe it's trapped air. Nope. Tube fail #2. Now down to our last tube among us, Dave's 27.5. By now, Brett's arms were tired from all the hand pump action and he was covered in sealant. The plus sized tire was reinstalled for the third or fourth time, but this time it worked!! I lent out my higher volume pump to help ease the pain. So, how many mountain bikers does it take to change a flat? 4. and one tire plug, 3 tubes and 45 minutes!! Let's ride.
This may be the final tube install.
We soon found our first bit of singletrack on Mine trail. This one rode really well.
Brett & Dave on Mine trail.
We dumped out onto a jeep road and had to consult the Trailforks app to see where the next 'trail' was supposed to be. All we could see was a rocky wash, that was it. This trail, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, is marked red on the map. That typically means lots of walking. Barely 15 feet into the wash a beautiful piece of singletrack peeled off to the left. Sweet.
Plenty of rideable sections.
Scott steering clear of the biggest annoyance out there, the tall dead grass. Those barbs get everywhere!! I had to pick them out of my shoes & socks at least 3 times. May need shoe covers to ride out there.



The trail became more rocky as it narrowed to this cool spot.
Scott had received a call from his wife, which he thought was odd, so he wandered off to find a cell signal. Not two minutes later we heard a very distinct whooshing sound as a large hawk took flight above us. I think we were right below its nest. This entire area had the feel of big cat country, I was scanning the hillsides the entire ride!!

Scott was gone a while, maybe 20 minutes. Brett found him and learned it was a butt dial call!! Oh well, better to be safe.

We had already been out for around 2 hours and covered a whopping 5 miles or so. I had to be finished by 11:30 for some silly wedding. :) The other half of Team Loco was getting hitched and I was 'encouraged' to not go on a #loco ride, too late. Our plans of an 18-22 mile day weren't going to happen either, I just had to figure out when & where I was going to call it off.

Super steep HAB. At least the trail wasn't overgrown.
Sometimes you need a little luck on your side.
We exited Frankie onto more jeep roads. We were now looking for another piece of singletrack called 'A Horse With No Name'. I'm sensing a music theme out here. To our surprise, this trail was about as plain-as-day as could be.
Wow! This trail looks great!! But it leads up around the hill on the left.
A few minutes of HAB, then Dave rides for a bit, followed by more HAB to reach this vantage point.


A few more minutes of HAB later we crested a saddle. To our amazement a huge area of lichen covered slickrock was surrounding us. The climbing continued.
Brett's lichen this climb. (See what I did there?)
Bike break at the top.

A surprising piece of flat trail.
Boom!! Weaver's Needle & the Superstitions dominate.
It was starting to get a bit warm as we descended off the backside. We crossed a wash and I could tell these next 4 miles or so would be very slow going. I decided I better turn around here and find a quick route back to the car. It was 10:30. Scott was feeling the heat and had already started back up the slickrock.
Dave riding the white line.
Such a diverse area.
The earlier HAB was easily ridden down and I made quick work getting back to the jeep road. I knew I could take it to the right and rejoin a familiar trail, Foothills, to get back to the car.
Foothills singletrack.
Near the end I had to navigate a few trail grenades. Sure hope this wasn't intentional.
I made it back to the car right at 11:30a. Good call on the turnaround point.

All four of us are eager to come back and explore more terrain. It is a spectacular area to ride, adventure riding at its best. Expect to HAB and the riding to generally be slow, but so far its been worth it.

Afterwards, behind the shadows of Oracle Ridge, these two started a life together!!
Congrats Shannon & Beto!! Photo: Damion Alexander

Route:

5.12.2017

Gold Canyon: Hoo Doo

I was feeling pretty pumped about finally completing a massive Gold Canyon all encompassing trail ride on Sunday (Route flyover here) only to find out Monday morning a new trail had been unveiled!! Oh well, I guess I'll have to do it again.

The new trail is called Hoo Doo and I had to go see what all the fuss was about. Yowza!! What a superbly routed trail through the chunk and heights near the Wilderness boundary. This trail is not for the faint of heart. Advanced/Expert riders only!! It's also a one-way trail, riding from west to east.
Hoo Doo is not for the spineless.
A little over a mile onto the Lost Goldmine trail, at the top of the descent towards Cougar, you'll find a small cairn signaling the start of Hoo Doo.
About 30 feet up the faint trail, it forks, veer right as the left fork deadends at the Wilderness fence. The climbing gets underway almost immediately as well as the technical nature of the trail.
One of the early rock features.
A very tough, sketchy power move coming into view.


It didn't take long to get high above Lost Goldmine trail near the Cougar junction.
Some nice trail too.
Off camber 'Superstition Slickroack' section. Be alert for upslope pedal strikes!!


The trail wrapped around the rock dome and began a gradually increasing descent towards an open area of slickrock. Up to this point there were occasional white dots spray painted on the rock to guide you along, but they ended at this area. It looked a bit like a freeride zone, but I couldn't make out any lines down, even for walking!! I had to consult the Trailforks app to see where the trail went from here. It appeared to make a 90º lefthand turn and sure enough I soon found the trail cut into the side of the hill. Perhaps a few more white dots are needed??
A molten wave of rock, frozen in time. This was where the dots ended, so when you come to these rocks, turn left!!
More crumbly angled slickrock.
From here, the end is in sight. Not far away, only means one thing: the trail drops in a hurry.
The trail soon became uncomfortably steep for me, so I did the downhill HAB thing and even that was a challenge.
Down into the big boulders.
Steep, twisting, downhill rock chute. Whoa.


One of the last trail features is this huge optional boulder roll.
Hoo Doo may only be 0.8 miles long, but it packs a punch. Reminiscent of Hangover trail in Sedona in spots where the penalty for failure is tougher than the move itself. This trail definitely ups the gnar factor at Gold Canyon.

While I walked my fair share, I love this addition to the system. Here's a long Gold Canyon Tech route I put together hitting all the tougher areas. (You can omit the far east trails past Jodie's Dream to cut down the mileage)

I was barely two miles into my ride, time to check out a trail I saw earlier in the week up on Quartz Ridge. At the top of the main climb, the trail comes to a tee where most riders go right, today I went left. A jeep road crests a small saddle and there's a trail wrapping around the backside of the mountain here. It starts with a couple solid grunt moves but there has been some mild rerouting work done. The trail kept going and I noticed another trail splitting off up high, but that will be for another day. The trail eventually came back down and around the front side of the mountain and tied back into one of the many dirt roads.
The exit of the Quartz East trail, marked with a cairn.
I finished up ripping along K-Trail and connected to the gate off Blackhawk rd and out to Baseline ave where I had parked. I'm looking forward to more tech trails coming online and hopefully some more in the hills by Quartz Ridge. Hard to believe this area was virtually unknown 5 years ago.

Route:

5.05.2017

Hewitt Station Bypass

We've been using Hewitt Station Rd (a well traveled, graded dirt road) for a bunch of years to connect long routes to the AZT from the big city & beyond. Apparently, the road cuts through some private property, this hasn't been an issue, as most of us simply assumed the private land was on each side of the road. There are plenty of signs encouraging travelers to slow down, but it seems the OHV crowd just couldn't abide by that simple rule. The property owners decided to close off access to ALL users at the end of March 2017. Can't say I blame them. It's a residential area and I'm sure tons of dust & noise at all hours would get old quick. What we didn't know, was the private land does indeed cross through the road and the closure is completely legal and supported by the Forest Service.

Normally, something like this wouldn't be a huge deal, but word trickled out late on April 7th...a few hours after the AZTR750 got underway!! There were roughly 40 riders heading north with the intention of riding Hewitt Station rd. The property owners weren't going to allow it. So, a couple of options were given to the riders and word hopefully would spread to them.

Word did reach the riders and everyone navigated around without issue, but most riders stayed on the paved US60 shoulder before rejoining the route. We weren't too sure how easy the dirt reroute was to navigate without a gpx track or the condition of the road.

Fast forward to today. I loaded the track and headed over to Picketpost TH to do an out-n-back on the reroute. Not only is the AZTR750 affected, but so are the AES Picketpost Punisher B route and my Queen's Ransom bikepack. Of course it was a toasty 95º for my ride, so why not work on my heat acclimation in the process??

The first 3+ miles were on the standard route, using the AZT to Hewitt Station rd and rolling west for a little over a mile.
Freshly posted sign on Hewitt Station rd. directing folks onto FR252.
It's a fairly obvious sign.


From here I hopped on FR252 for about 7 miles. I took pictures of all the major trail junctions. Each one was signed not only with a FR252 sign, but also a sign indication the offshoot forest road. They all looked pretty new, so I'm assuming the property owners worked with the forest service to ensure signage was up to date.
The beginning (east end) of FR252.
The first of a few junctions along the way. FR252 was the more traveled route in all cases.
Palo Verde trees in bloom.


Tonto Recreation Alliance

Massive Saguaro forest.


Some of the signs had directional arrows as well.

Onto FR172 for the final mile+.

Back on Hewitt Station rd.
From Picketpost TH all the way through the reroute to Hewitt Station rd it took me 1 hour 10 minutes. That's with all the photo stops and a relaxed pace. Granted, I had fresh legs and no bikepacking gear, but the temps were toasty. Take that for what it's worth.

The ride back took 1 hour 15 minutes and I only took one pic. So, for my huge sample size, I'll say westbound rides slightly easier?? Both directions undulate with no sustained climbing. Even with bikepacking gear on tired legs, it should be 100% rideable. Plus, it's a much more scenic ride than Hewitt Station. I saw 3 vehicles during my 2 1/2 hours out. Granted one was an employee for the power company and it was between 10a - 12:30p on a Friday.
Some cows that didn't feel like moving. Yeah, I was that close to this fella.
Barbed wire ranch fencing makes for cool photos, not gates. All 4 gates on this section are nice metal ones.
Got it? Good.
Newly minted sign explaining the closure.
Looks like there are some other options to explore out there. (Purple lines)


Funny thing is, I enjoyed this route much better than Hewitt Station rd. I think it's a keeper.

Here's the skinny on FR252:

FR252 on Trailforks.com