February 10, 2017

AZTR750: More Dirt Less Pavement

I'm a mountain biker. I don't own a road bike nor have the desire to. Nothing wrong with road riding, just not my cup of tea. So, when I have the option to ride dirt or road to get somewhere, you can bet it's going to be dirt.

Last year I proposed a route change for the AZTR750 when it approached Gold Canyon (east side of metro Phoenix) bypassing the paved US60 shoulder & 65 mph speed limit, but there wasn't time for Scott to ride it for the necessary stamp of approval. Instead, it was put in as 'optional'. I was one of the only riders to do both the Gold Canyon and Jacob Crosscut options last year. The Jacob Crosscut portion really wasn't ready for primetime action and I was pretty much regretting it while trudging along it's boulder strewn path.

Fast forward a year and I did a little route tweaking through Gold Canyon. I removed most of the zigzagging trails in favor of a more direct fast route through the trail system. Unfortunately, just last week my exit from the trails were fenced off and signed 'No trespassing, private property' mostly due to an increase in OHV activity. I needed a new way out of the trails. One option led to a fence, the other added a few silly miles to the trailhead only to come right back where the fence option was. I had also learned a couple months earlier that the SALT crew was actively working on the Jacob Crosscut trail. This was something I didn't expect to occur for years to come!! Could we possibly have both options added THIS year? Scott was able to come up to the Valley to find out.

Scott & Eszter had their Scamp situated near the Picketpost trailhead, so we opted to start our ride there - it also happens to be the finish line for the AZT300. Ez did us a huge favor by offering to pick us up at the end of our ride, some 45 miles away while she had her own adventure going up Flat Iron. Good call.

Right out of the gate we were both surprised to see Queen Creek flowing!! First time I've seen water in it.
It may not look like much, but around these parts water is life!!
The next dozen or so miles are relatively flat dirt road and a bit of pavement leading into the retirement oasis of Queen Valley. We arrived just over an hour into the ride. Snack break!!

A couple more paved miles lead to State Trust land and a return to dirt. We veered onto the new portion about a mile later. The views back here are stunning, rugged mountains all around, yet the jeep roads are fairly tame by comparison.
Only a mile or so under the powerlines.
Closing in on the Superstitions.
More flowing water!! Don't expect this in April.

The route winds around a bit generally heading west, then it scoots north for a couple of miles following the wash pictured above. The track peels off to the west again for the only real effort in miles. There's a short bit, maybe 1/4 mile, of loose, chunky climbing to a saddle followed by more loose stuff on the descent.

Scott's Scamp sense perked up as we rode along Gold Rush & Peralta rds, plenty of nice spots to pull over for a few days and soak in the surroundings.

We crossed through a gate and were about to start the updated singletrack route through Gold Canyon, with Scott in the lead so he could see how if flowed for someone not familiar with the area.
Outer Limits got things rolling.
Pay attention, there are some fun b-line rock options along the way too.
Not sure what designates a Shredder Crossing when no other trails are around, but it's fast through here!!
Duck under this fence or ride mostly drab flat pavement back to nearly the same spot. Bikes over, bodies under. Go.

EDIT: I was informed of a gate 3/4 mile up the trail to the right (north) that lets you pass easily on the the dirt road behind the fence. (S. Blackhawk Rd.)
Looking north from the gate.
Looking south from the gate on Blackhawk Rd.

A few miles of neighborhood cruising brought us to a lunch stop at Subway before resuming the Jacob Crosscut (JC) section.
New signage at the Broadway TH. It's looking official now.
This sums it up rather well. The boulder-surfing HAB is gone. 100% rideable now. Photo by Scott.
The old alignment on the left (it wasn't quite that bad, remove 1/2 of those rocks, but you get the idea) new trail on right.
This signpost marks the top of the climb. The JC turns left here and begins to contour the terrain.
Flat Iron in the center.

I was really curious to see how far the trail work had gone now that the worst of it was fixed. The next two miles were super technical before. I was hoping it would all be rideable, but still retain it's character. It's a tough balance to achieve, but after riding through the SALT crew did a really nice job. There are still a few spots that are tricky requiring good bike handling skills and focused attention. We dabbed a few times and dismounted here & there, but nothing crazy or annoying. It appears there's a bit more work still planned so it will only get better and it's really good right now. I can't thank the volunteers at SALT enough for their hard work out here.
First poppy sighting of the season!! It's going to be a good one this year.
Interesting lichen pattern here.
A few tight spots to negotiate along the way.
This is finally a viable trail linking the Goldfield Mtns, Lost Dutchman SP & Gold Canyon trails together.

First the rains, now the green and soon the flowers will carpet the ground.
Our day started far on the other side of the Superstitions.

We rode back to Lost Dutchman SP where Ez had finished her jaunt up to Flat Iron. I still need to do that hike!! They took advantage of the available showers at the park, then we celebrated a great day outside with some Mexican fare at De La Cruz in Gold Canyon.

It's now official, this ride will be a permanent course change for the AZTR750!! More dirt, more singletrack, less pavement = win!!

Route flyover



  1. Are we still gonna be close enough to resupply at the Gold Canyon Bashas?

    1. Yes!! Both the Queen Valley & Gold Canyon (Basha's) resupply points are still on route. The route now comes by the west side of the shopping plaza instead of the south.

    2. Hey Mike, the resupply options through Fitz Stop and Gold Canyon are still there.

  2. There is an easier way at Gold Canyon to get around the barb-wire-fence. There is a small trail that parallels the barb-wire for 0.15 miles. Just ride up hill a bit and its an easy fence.

    For those riders who like Gold Canyon and are dismayed by the no parking ... just go backwards. Park at Baseline and Kings Canyon. Ride Baseline east to the barb wire shown in John's blog. Then, ride uphill and you'll see the access fence.

    1. Thanks Ronald!! Checked it out the other day, looks good!!