Crown King

Crown King is a small community tucked high in the Bradshaw Mtns. north of Phoenix. Every time I ride the Black Canyon Trail or drive by on I-17 I peer to the west at the giant mountain of Earth. I've heard it was a good climb to the top and a solid training ride for prospective Tour Divide riders. The time had finally come to see for myself. My schedule changed at the last minute and Jennifer was able to join in the fun. She'll also be lining up in Banff, AB a little over a month from now.

We met at the Bumble Bee trailhead around 8a and were pedaling by 8:30a. The first mile is fast downhill on asphalt then the road turns to dirt at the junction with Maggie Mine Rd. I was already thinking about the return portion and not wanting to climb up the pavement to the car.

Crown King Rd. takes over and is well maintained dirt all the way to the top. First, we'd pass through the tiny cluster of homes known as Bumble Bee.
The 4 legged creatures dominate these parts.

Beautiful morning for a bike ride, eh?

The next sign of life, Cleator. We'd stop here on our way back down the mountain.
Beyond Cleator was all new-to-me terrain. This was about as steep as the road got.

Bench cut road.

Elevation to gain, but enough distance in between to hardly notice.

Jennifer making her way towards one of the hairpin turns.

Cool vantage point from here.

No longer in the desert low-lands.
The only real negative on the day was the constant stream of OHV 4-wheelers. It was a weekend, so I guess that's to be expected. Most slowed down, but there were plenty who treated the road like their own private Baja1000.

Deep, clear pools far below the road looked so inviting.
We rode through a small slot in the rocks and entered the land of pines on the other side. Just like that we were in Crown King, complete with flowing creek.

All-American mountain town.

Respect it.

Pine alley.

Jennifer at the signature Crown King landmark.

Old School Arco pump.

Next to the general store.

We opted for lunch here. Bacon cheeseburger didn't stand a chance.

Hard to believe its been 7 years since AZ's 100th birthday.

Time to make our way back down the mountain. It was a little over 27 miles to get up here.

Lots of granite to gawk at.

It was faint, but the snow on Humphrey's peak near Flagstaff was visible.

Long way down to go.

Back in Cleator, cold beer stop!!

Or perhaps we take the boat out??

Designated jeep parking.

Cleator history lesson.

Lots of surfing paraphernalia inside.

Paying homage to the founder.
We continued down the road, three miles after Cleator, we came to the Black Canyon Trail junction. We were getting tired of being dusted by the OHV crowd, so we made the sensible choice to ride the trail back to our cars. No brainer.

Hidden Treasure section of the BCT.

A little bit of climbing, but the trail mostly went downhill.

I was shocked to hear this was Jennifer's first time riding the BCT!! How did that happen?

I pity the fool that doesn't keep it single.

We didn't encounter a single other trail user.

Bumble Bee Creek still flowing.

Jennifer rides into a painting.

This is such a photogenic location.

All smiles!!

Trail popped us right into the trailhead, like it was planned or something.

That's a wrap.

Found this cool patch at the general store in Crown King. Had to have it.
This climb had been on my list for years. So glad I finally checked the box, done. Perhaps a bigger looping option to Crown King is next. Thanks for coming along, Jennifer, great day on the bike.




Arnett Canyon Loop

I've been meaning to head back over to Picketpost to ride the portion of the new Arnett Canyon Trail that Shannon, Beto and I missed on our Superior Adventure. This seemed like a perfect opportunity, since I was headed there anyway to drop off some AZT300 rider gear for their finish. It just so happened the the 300 winner, Huw Oliver, had just wrapped up an incredible rookie run at just over 2 days!! Kurt & Kaitlyn were there to greet him and it was fun catching up before I headed out.
Arnett Canyon trail splits off the AZT barely 0.2 miles south of the trailhead and slaps you in the face with stunning rock formations.

Picketpost Mtn. from a different perspective.

I was surprised to find Arnett Creek still flowing.

Although portions were bone dry above ground.

Desert rivers/creeks are notorious for their disappearing acts.

I love that there is so much shade along the trail.

This fella didn't want to give up his grazing turf.

This is where we ventured off last time, today, I'd veer left.
Riding away from the creek, the size of the cliffs are on full display.

Mining claim.

The trail meanders up a series of bench-cut rock shelves.

Not quite the top, but an impressive overlook.

Picketpost Mtn. taking familiar form.

The trail is routed magnificently through the rock maze.

At the top, take the dirt road down to the left.
I was expecting to see a few more signs directing the way, but nada. I poked around a bit, there's a yellow gate at the top, but an old No Trespassing sign shot to pieces on it. It also appeared there was another trail skirting off to the right. I knew the route needed to head towards the old L.O.S.T. routing, so I opted to head down the dirt road.
Apache Leap stands guard over Superior.

I almost missed this turn, careful with your speed as you near the trees!! Look for a trail cutting back, down under the canopy.

Looking down the connector trail.
I heard some people talking below. I dropped in and found myself practically in their camp. I hopped over the flowing Queen Creek and made my way through the various campsites.
Land of the L.O.S.T.

Great place for a quick getaway.

There were a few large groups setup, but nary a person.

Coming out of the trees, the route follows a series of dirt roads towards town.

The L.O.S.T. is an official AZT connector trail.
Soon enough I was back on singletrack. Well, the remnants of singletrack.
The trail has been taken back by Mother Nature due to lack of use in recent years. The US60 widening project essentially closed the trail a few years ago. Hopefully, with the opening of the Arnett Canyon trail, it'll come back to life. Good thing there are still plenty of carsonite posts guiding the way.

Not much trail to find here. Follow the signs.

The trail eventually ends at the Superior airstrip. I crossed US60 to make a loop back to Picketpost via Silver King Rd./FR8/FR650/AZT.

Nice dirt road cruising.

How quickly Picketpost appears distant.

Hedgehog cactus on full display.

Vintage trail marker signals my entry to the AZT.

I've taken this same shot a few times this spring. Each one dramatically different. The water is shrinking.

Sweet bit of trail leading down to the US60 culvert.

Done. Love these signs along the trail.
This was a really nice, short loop. I imagine it could be done even in warm weather if started early. Superior is beginning to put themselves on the mountain biking radar. There's an entire trail system planned on the east side of Picketpost and Arnett Canyon will link right to it.