February 4, 2014

Trail Sleuthing

The ride this past Sat really had me thinking about potential routes in the area, specifically north Mesa. There's a spot in the route after Pass Mtn where, instead of dropping down to ride some mostly sandy / post-holed desert, a trail headed east into the Tonto National Forest north of the homes along McDowell rd. I had poked around on satellite imagery, found this trail, but it appeared to simply dead-end. The thing with satellite trail routing is you never quite know how old the image is. Had this trail been completed? One way to find out.

What I was ultimately hoping for was a roughly 3 mile connector trail from Pass Mtn to the Goldfield Mtns. I left work and headed over to Meridian rd following it north until its terminus. I was all set to get going when I realized I didn't see my helmet/gloves/skull cap headband. Hmmm. That stuff is always in my car unless I'm cleaning it, which I hadn't done in about a week. Oh well, today was going to be super mellow anyway with lots of picture taking in the couple of hours I had before sunset.

I immediately found the trail as it is well established from the TH. The beginning was a little sandy, but nothing I couldn't handle. Soon the sand gave way to a really nice winding trail. It followed the contours of the land and the climbing grade was reminiscent of newer construction methods. How long has this trail been here? Maybe 2 years? It had the feel of a new trail by its build, but it was worn in by horses / hikers & Mother Nature in a few locations.
Easy to follow trail with stunning views of the Superstition Mtns.
Nearing Ironwood rd.
Even the clouds looking cool today.
Looking back towards Pass Mtn.
The Meridian TH is to the right of the shiny rooftop.
I was really enjoying the trail, holding out hope that it would keep going. The trail did in fact end abruptly at the end of a climb 1 1/2 miles from the Meridian TH. Later I would find out the Tonto NF has plans for this area, known as the Sonoran Desert Trail System Project.
End of the line.
An example of the terrain the new trail will meander through.
I rode back to the car, still had plenty of daylight left, so I opted to drive over to the other end at the Goldfield TH. I had seen a trail on satellite, but it may prove difficult to find.
Superstitions were looking so good I had to pull over for a snap.
I started up the dirt road with my mental cues, take the second left then keep your eyes peeled. Sure enough I spotted what appeared to be a cairn, it was only 4 rocks, but there was a vague trail-ish path skirting out into the land of cacti. It was rather easy to follow, but there were no signs of user activity for some time, at least not until I crossed a small 4x4 powerline road. From there the trail was easier to follow as it was clearly a horse path. I curved through the desert, but would often dive sharply into drainages requiring a short HAB out the other side.
A few sections were rutted out.
Idaho rd entrance.
Golden hour settling in.
Came upon this hoodoo of sorts near Idaho rd.
At Idaho rd the trail continued on, but there was a large wash crossing in front of me. It was getting late, so I bailed down to the road to complete a loop back to the car. I could see where the trail went, eventually dumping out onto the dirt of McDowell rd & dead-ending at a carved out section of mountainside.

This corridor has really nice potential, hopefully it's slated for completion soon.

Back at the Goldfield TH the sun was getting low on the horizon, beginning to put on quite a show. I stuck around for a few minutes to snap some shots.
Partly cloudy desert sunsets are always a treat!

1 comment:

  1. I' ve been doing a lot of riding in the goldfields lately with the intent of making a map as there is almost zero info out there and there is so much single track out there between aj and the needle vista on the apache trail thanks to our equestrian friends it's crazy.