October 30, 2011

AZT - Gila River North

As the State of Arizona approaches its centennial celebration, another one is unfolding along with it. The official completion of the amazing Arizona Trail. I'm running out of words to describe the magnificence of this trail and its varied terrain.  This particular ride was a bit of an exploratory ride.  It was on passage #16, White Canyon, which happens to be the missing link of trail construction.  They are on the final stretches of trail building with the route already flagged.

Chris and I wanted to see exactly what was built at the southern end.  Was the trail easily accessable from the parking area? Rideable?  We knew this much: the first 3.1 miles may or may not be built, the next 6.4 miles were constructed and after that we weren't sure. So we set off for the small mining town of Kelvin, AZ just south of Superior across from the enormous hole in the ground known as the Ray Mine.

We parked over the bridge that spans the Gila River, yes there was a little flow going, at the start of the Florence-Kelvin Hwy, i.e. dirt road.  Passage #15, Tortilla Mtns, terminates at this point as well. We crossed over the bridge, followed some cues and found where the AZT turns into the surrounding mountains. Still no trail here only flagging. 

Trail flagging at the start of Passage #16
Back to the bridge and Plan B, get to the constructed 6.4 miles of trail.  We were able to ride a bit over a mile on the AZT heading alongside the F-K Hwy of passage #15 to where it crosses the hwy. 
From there we stayed on dirt road to the bottom of a large hill and began looking for ways to access the riverbed.  We followed a wash down to the railroad tracks that follow the Gila and took them back towards the east.  On the otherside of a train tressel we dropped down into a thick stand of mesquite trees and picked up the trail flagging.  We followed the flags for a short bit and came upon a gate - this would be the start of the completed 6.4 miles of trail. Time to ride new terrain!

Our crossing spot down in the trees

The tracks are LIVE

How did the chain do that?? Star bolts on the chainring?@#!

A splash of autumn down by the river

We would follow the trail out to the saddle & around the mountain on the right

Chris on some sweet new AZT

End of the line today

Only a few short sandy sections

Finished up with a 2 mile trek on the tracks, Woo Woo!!
It was another fantastic day out in the desert exploring some new-to-us terrain. It won't be long now until the AZT is complete around the White Canyon Wilderness.  This section will become the envy of non-desert dwellers everywhere! From the Picketpost TH south to the top of The Big Hill will be truly an epic 45 or so miles of singletrack bliss. Come join us for a ride!!  More photos from this ride here.

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