June 23, 2013

Whitford Canyon Loop

Unfinished business. That's what this ride was all about. Two weeks ago Arturo and I attempted a full loop north from Picketpost to Montana Mtn, but the heat & time schedule did us in. I wanted to head back out there sooner rather than later to finish what we started. This time around the majority of the climbing wasn't needed, so we figured we would be off the trail before things really heated up.

Surprisingly, we actually started riding at 6am and were immediately rewarded with temps in the mid-60's!! We made relatively quick work of FR650 up to our junction with the Arizona Trail (AZT). Along the way I spotted three deer amidst the cacti keeping a curious eye on my progress.

Almost 2 miles of singletrack to start before reaching FR650. Photo by Arturo.
A quick downhill bomber section on FR650.
One of the few signs of life in these parts.
The AZT started off with a nice climb around a hillside topping out with a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains. The trail twisted around weaving in & out of a few drainages reminiscent of the Black Canyon Trail on the northwest side of town. We were loving it!
Top of the short climb.
Arturo dwarfed by Montana Mtn.
Enjoying a fine spin on singletrack. photo by Arturo.
One of the craziest Saguaros I've come across. 
The trail soon gave way to a steady diet of downhill before reaching FR650. We stopped for a snack and proceeded into the Whitford Canyon portion of the ride. About a mile or so into the trail the canyon walls encroached upon us revealing a towering red rock amphitheatre of sorts. We were under the cover of shade provided by the abundance of large trees. During a short hike-a-bike section turkey vultures circled overhead mocking us loudly from high above; as if they were screaming at us to leave!
Meeting back up with FR650.
Looking into Whitford Canyon.
Beautiful area under the canopy.
Stop cackling at us!!
We worked our way down the canyon, spotting numerous free-ranging cattle. A cow and three calves were just ahead, the three little ones took off down the trail while momma gave us the stare down from 15' away. The calves seemed to be enjoying the trail as much as we were, they didn't want to leave!! Mountain biking calve herders unite!! This game went on for a good 1/2 mile until the trail finally took a sharp right, crossing a wash. Up on the banks of the canyon we could hear the calves bellowing out to their mom, the booming cries echoing down the canyon walls.

The canyon starting to open up.
More stellar singletrack.
Arturo making the final nicely graded climb.
It's almost all downhill from here!!
Arturo reaching the top of the climb.
Picketpost Mtn. was now in full view. All that was left was a mostly downhill run on a Ripsey-esque ridgeline, how cool is that? We made quick work of the downhill, crossed the railroad tracks, scooted back under US60 and rolled up to the car just after 10am. Chill, relaxed, picture taking pace all before the heat kicked into gear. This loop was such good fun, I'll be adding it to my regular ride list when I make the trek out to Picketpost. You should too, don't ignore the trail heading north from the parking lot!!

Thannks again, Arturo, for making the early trek out to finish what we started a couple weeks earlier.
Photo op, taken by Arturo.
Taking in the views. Photo by Arturo.
Arturo flyin' down the ridge.
Jojoba in focus.
Who's bad?? This guy.
Nearing the US60 underpass.
Cool little moonscape section of trail.
Another fantastic ride in the books. Photo by Arturo.

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