December 24, 2011

AZT - Kelvin Hike

December 16th, 2011 officially marked the completion of the Arizona Trail. The last segment being down by the mining town of Kelvin where the AZT crosses the Gila River. This also means that the AZT can be ridden through from the Picketpost trailhead to Kelvin, about 36 miles or so one-way. That last segment, a 3.1 mile stretch of trail was the only segment that nobody had been able to ride. Kara and I set off to hike the trail, getting some much anticipated GPS data and proof the trail was in ride ready condition.
Gila River at Kelvin.

We tried driving up to the start of the singletrack, but no luck. The mining company is still constructing the roadway.

We found the trail, but it was still only a flagged route. We continued on.

Still a few splashes of autumn around.

Looking west down the tracks.

We stumbled upon a couple of geological markers.

Tailings from the enormous Ray Mine.

This shows a good portion of the dirt road, the trail circles high above.

The tread was very faint to non-existent, we were often in scavenger hunt mode for flagging.
Eventually we lost the flagging and decided to head down to follow a drainage back to the dirt road. The first drainage was fairly narrow and became overgrown quickly. Back up we went, found another larger wash and dropped into it. This proved to be a quick exit to the road. We never did come across the newly constructed trail.
The first narrow drainage.

Making our way down to the larger wash.

Old giant of the Sonoran Desert.

Much easier travelling.

The water around here is not suitable for drinking due to high heavy metal content.

My guess is that the trail has been constructed from the railroad trestle east to the intersection with the road. This leaves about 1 1/2 to 2 miles of trail that still needs to be built. In the meantime the AZT can follow the mining road back to the auto bridge over the Gila River. The official announcement opening this passage to the public will be made sometime in early January 2012.

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