May 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 63ยบ 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.


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