September 30, 2017

Flagstaff: ATOM Loop

Autumn was in full swing up north and Flagstaff was calling. I thought this would be a good opportunity for another attempt at a huge route I've been trying to do. I have this super cool 100+ miler that I just can't seem to pull off for one reason or another. Conditions were looking about perfect and the leaves were gold all around. Maybe this would be the day.

I had a good night sleep and made it over to Safeway for an early start. I had hoped to start in darkness, but couldn't quite muster the motivation for that. A first light start wasn't too bad though.

I quickly got moving and warmed up, at least temperature wise, before I saw the forest thinning project had temporarily closed the trail. I found a way around and began climbing the Elden Lookout Rd. Overall, I really don't mind the climb, but for some reason whenever I do it at the beginning of a long day I get crushed. Today was no different and it really sucked my motivation to continue. Here I was, once again, barely 5 miles into a huge day and I was calling an audible. I figured if I didn't have a hundred miles in my legs, I'd at least do a fun route and try to see some new terrain. A popular ride up here is the Around the Mountain, ATM, loop, but I wanted to go around Elden. So, an ATOM loop of some sort, Around the Other Mountain!!

I bailed off the Lookout Rd. and did the short hike-a-bike, HAB, up Red Onion trail. First time on that one, looks cool as a downhill dash. This brought me to the beginning of Little Bear trail, one of my favorites.
Pausing on Little Bear.

Meet my new ride compadre, Aka Oni. He fears no HAB.

Saplings populating the charred hillside.

Most of the burned trees are gone now.
A fast rip down the AZT brought me here, below Heart trail, which is scheduled for a major reroute. Yes!!

On my way towards Rio de Flag, I noticed these new looking sign posts.

Down at the creek crossing I opted to check out the Tom Moody Loop into Picture Canyon.

A ton of rock art only a few feet off the AZT.

Tom Moody Loop.

Interesting logging / railroad history in the area.

Back out on the familiar open meadows along the AZT.

This northern AZ rail line is always buzzing with traffic.

I cut through Campbell Mesa & the Flag Loop trail before looking for an alternate back into town.
Trailforks led me to this hidden gem of singletrack.

A seemingly random bench parked in the sand all by its lonesome.

I found a series of gravel roads above the lonely bench.

Turns out the gravel was part of a nature trail system, but it dead ended. Back at the bench, I found my missed turn.

Stepping stones through Rio de Flag.

Back near civilization.

Bow & Arrow trail was a flattish multi-use path.
A short stint on pavement linked me to the Flagstaff Urban Trail System or FUTS.

The AZT then guided me through the busy streets near downtown.

The AZT leaves the traffic behind quickly as it ascends towards Buffalo Park.

Humphrey's Peak & Mt. Elden
All in all it was a fine day for a Plan B 'winging it' kinda ride. I'll try my 100+ route again sometime, maybe try to knock out a few more miles before getting to the Elden Lookout Rd.



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