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 95ยบ 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

1 comment:

  1. Thanks John. but hey I thought 95 way balmy for you desert rats ; -)

    ReplyDelete