March 24, 2019

Four Peaks to Sunflower

The snow had finally retreated and temps at elevation were much more tolerable for us desert dwellers, so Mike and I set up a shuttle to ride the middle section of the Four Peaks option of the 2019 AZTR750, trimming along the way.
Eastern glow over the Superstition Mtns. as I leave my neighborhood.
Bushnell Tank tree bearing shoe fruit. Photo by Mike.

We'll be riding down this canyon from the top. Photo by Mike.
I met Mike in Sunflower and we drove back down the highway to the Four Peaks OHV staging area where only a couple vehicles were stirring on this early Sunday morning. The Four Peaks Rd. is a very popular OHV route and we knew we'd be seeing plenty of motorized traffic over the first half of the ride.
Up we go.

The early miles twist & turn as they gain elevation.

The road was recently graded, which made for a pleasant riding surface.
The first of many water crossings.
One of the steeper early grades. Photo by Mike.
Another water crossing as Four Peaks begins to feel close by.

Nice place for a snack break.
Lots of ATV traffic, nice that they all slowed down when passing by. Photo by Mike.

Incredibly clear day, no city haze in the Valley. Photo by Mike.
The final few miles really kick up and I was beginning to fade a bit. Mike pulled ahead and I walked a few pitches. The last bit seemed to drag on a tad, but eventually I saw the sign signaling the cattle guard at the top. Mike was already digging into his snacks, I needed a break.
Finally!! The top-ish. Top of the Four Peak Rd. climb anyway.

El Oso Rd. carves a swath through the trees down to Tonto Basin.

The big trees begin to become more prominent along the Mazatzal Divide.

This communication tower is the carrot you chase when climbing El Oso Rd.
Plenty of snow clinging to the north slopes of Four Peaks. Oh yeah!! Photo by Mike.
The Mazatzal Divide doubles as the AZT here. It continues to climb, undulating skyward with punchy climbs and fast descents.

Creature, creature, double feature!! Roosevelt Lake & Four Peaks.

For a brief moment it feels like Flagstaff.
My turn cruising the pines. Photo by Mike.
Roosevelt Lake.

Mt. Ord comes into view signaling a long, mostly downhill rip to the AZT singletrack turnoff.

This sign is mileage along the AZT. The singletrack is on the opposite side of the road by a large cairn.

A thin slice of dirt cuts across the hillside.

Mike drops in to a couple of switchbacks.
Nice spot to soak it all in. Photo by Mike.

This portion seemed to ride much better than last time. Photo by Mike.
Boulder Creek was flowing!!
As we dropped into the Boulder Creek drainage the vegetation encroached and the clippers & loppers came out. At first it was intermittent, but the farther we went the more choked the trail became.

All sorts of wildflowers were blooming.

Before on the left, after on the right.
I think we spent the better part of two hours clearing a corridor through the thorny mess. By 4:30p we needed to get moving, but the trail was in shambles. It appeared to be a weekend project with a few more hands on deck. We pushed through and finally the scratchy plants gave way as we exited the drainage and the canyon opened up. We estimated it was about 3/4 - 1 mile of trail that really needed work. *We now have plans to return to finish the job.

We found this Boulder Pools sign shortly after things opened up. We had to investigate.

Water seeping along this slope was perfect for moss.

Boulders? Check. Pool? Check.

This boulder, perfectly lodged to create a dual waterfall.
Another pool and lower falls. Photo by Mike.
Back on the trail it was a battle with rocks instead of bushes.

Boulder Creek.

There was plenty of buff singletrack to be had as well.


Came across a small herd of deer scampering across the hillside.

Late afternoon shadows creating a dynamic landscape.

I'd love to know the backstory here. Five rusting vehicles with no road in sight.

Looks like a cow crawled in here as a final resting place.

The cowhide was a few feet away.

Nature slowly reclaiming.

Golden Hour in full force.

This was a very scenic section of trail.

Posing with Mt. Ord.

A bonafide rock feature!!

Sycamore Creek.

One last climb up the flanks overlooking Sycamore Creek.

What goes up, must come down. Yeehaw!!

Our junction to Bushnell Tank.
We had one more crossing of Sycamore Creek remaining and we both just tromped through it. It felt great and I had dry shoes/socks in the car.

This is a really great backcountry ride after you ditch the OHV traffic on Four Peaks Rd. I hope the AZTR riders take time to enjoy it...