April 29, 2018

AZT: Mormon Lake to Flagstaff

Beto & Shannon were well into their AZT450 ride (Picketpost to Utah) when I had time to try and meet up with them. They were just wrapping up arguably the toughest stretch of the route between Rye and Mormon Lake. Specifically the Highline & Happy Jack segments. Just brutal.

This ride was also going to be a progress check for my Achilles. My plan for the day was to meet them at the Mormon Lake Lodge and ride to Flagstaff, but that required a shuttle drop. Thanks to Dana, I was able to secure a ride south from Flag. Beto & Shannon had camped a few miles south of Mormon Lake and were already waiting for me when I arrived with burritos & hot chocolate!!

Shannon decided she was done after the heavy trail toll and Dana was able to give her a lift to Flagstaff where Beto & I would be by day's end.
It was a quick board meeting for Team Loco.
Beto & I opted to rejoin the Arizona Trail via the Navajo Spring trail. I had only been on the upper bit of that trail and Beto mentioned that the lower portion was fairly torn up by the nearby horse stable. What's a little hike-a-bike, HAB, to get things going?? It was cool outside, not cold, but the wind was howling. At least we'd be in the trees most of the day.
Assume the position right out of the gate.
There were only a few short HAB bits on the Navajo Spring trail, not too bad really. We linked up to the AZT and began heading north on mostly good singletrack. It contoured the hillside as it wound it's way around Mormon Mountain. We navigated through a series of gates, of course we did, it's the AZT!!

Somewhere in here, Beto's light popped off his handlebars!! Gah! If you find a black Fenix light you know where it came from.

The trail then begins a fast gradual descent and follows an old logging railroad bed for a few miles.
Decaying railroad ties can be seen throughout this area.

This elevated lava rock section was really neat. Note the nice trail on the right!!


Beto cruises through a prescribed burn area that seemed to use the trail as the 'fire break'.

Snack break near the beginning of Anderson Mesa at the Horse Lake TH.
Anderson Mesa. What can be said about it? It's relatively flat-ish. The jeep road section is choked full of embedded lava rock in sections, but rideable. If it happens to rain, you're screwed. The 'soil' turns to cookie dough death mud, complete show stopper & crusher of souls. It was dry today, but the wind...oh, the wind!! It was gusting over 30mph and was mostly a crosswind with an occasional tailwind for good measure. I found the singletrack portion to be in relatively good condition. It seemed like a lot of the loose baseball-sized rocks were all but removed and the typical postholes from grazing cattle were also non-existent. Dare I say that Anderson Mesa wasn't too bad?? Really.
Our framebags were like sails through these open areas. blowing us side to side.

Smooth-ish singletrack.

Beto checking off the miles northbound.

Ride selfie stoke!!

Humphrey's Peak slowly growing larger.

Upper Lake Mary.

By far, the best view along Anderson Mesa. Mormon Mtn. on the horizon behind Upper Lake Mary.

Marshall Lake officially ends Anderson Mesa. Back into the forest we go.

Getting closer...
There has been some re-routing done as the trail drops off the mesa. It's nice to get off the fall-line rubbly jeep road, at least for a bit. The final descent still has some tricky moves, but I was able to ride the whole thing as we dropped into the more popular sections near Flagstaff.

By now my Achilles was aching once again and I was ready to be done with the ride. Only a few more miles to go. The forested singletrack here is really great, but it seemed to go on forever. Normally, not a problem, actually encouraged, but on this day I wanted to be finished.

Near Sandys Canyon.

Fisher Point.

Beautiful singletrack leading away from Fisher Point.
Beto clipped his handlebars on a boulder ahead of me, one blink and his bike was lying on the ground and he was balanced over it precariously as it teetered on a short dropoff. It's amazing how fast something like that can happen. Luckily it was no more than a pause along the ride.

We wrapped it up a few miles later. While Beto & Shannon opted to end their AZT450 ride in Flagstaff, I'm glad I was able to tag along for a short bit. They can always resume the adventure in the fall when the leaves are in full color.

Great riding with you, Beto. Until next time!! Cheers!




  1. Clearly I missed some great views last month as it got dark just after I crossed Lake Mary rd. That whole section rode really fast in the dark, with the trail getting to be quite fun after we crossed a parking area somewhere past Lake Mary. There was a large drop into a gully/gorge where my light went flat and I was reduced to using my camping light, so saw even less of the surrounding bush. Maybe I need to see this section in daylight.....?

    1. I have a feeling you may have missed a few good sections by riding at night. Highly recommend a return visit where you can do all the great day rides on fresh legs, no extra gear, cool(er) temps and daylight. I know a place where you can stay....