May 25, 2019

Mogollon Rim: FR300 & Cabin Loops

The seemingly endless desert spring this year continued into Memorial weekend. That also meant the high country of Arizona has been slow to thaw, but even after a recent snow storm up north, the Mogollon Rim area seemed primed for a visit.

Mike was free for a day of exploring and we met northeast of town to carpool the rest of the way. Our first stop was obvious, Alfonso's Mexican Food in Payson for breakfast burritos. We rolled into town and as I turned into Alfonso's parking lot, something was amiss. There weren't any cars...then I saw it. NOOOOOO!! The place had recently been gutted by fire. Closed.
A Payson mainstay, gone.

Melted kitchen.
We were in disbelief, but now we needed some food. It wasn't what we had planned but the ol' Golden Arches does offer those tasty McGriddle sandwiches... Hopefully, Alfonso's will rebuild.

Up on the rim it was a cool, breezy 59ยบ when we got going. Perfect. My original plan was to ride FR300, the Rim Rd., as an out-n-back on the Divide rig, but I was having issues getting my new tires to seat and left the bike at home. Since I was on my hardtail and Mike had never ridden the Cabin Loop trails, the updated route was obvious.
We started on a spur route down to Milk Ranch Pt. Rd. Less traffic and nice views.

Crystal clear skies meant we could see peaks clearly for what seemed like 100 miles.

Mike's Transition setup with custom framebag.

My trusty Motobecane.

I happened to look left as we rode through an old burn area and noticed something white on the horizon. Humphrey's Peak was visible!! Never noticed it before.

Windswept trees and jaw dropping vistas.

FR300 is one of the premier dirt roads in all of Arizona.

Vandals strike again.
 We took a snack break where the Arizona Trail tops out on the rim. So far, traffic hadn't been too bad on the Rim Rd. considering it was a holiday weekend. I suggested we ride the Loop trails back to this point, staying on FR300 out to FR139 where we'd ride south to join up with the best section of the Houston Bros. trail.
More vastness as we continue east.

Houston Bros. trail junction with a closure notice.

The north end of the Loops were affected at FR95, but we figured we could find a way through.
Might be a little early to cut a tree, although we did see a few lingering patches of snow. Photo by Mike.
Time for some flowy downhill singletrack!!

Looks good from here.

The initial drop-in was chunky and rooty, but all rideable. The lack of down trees was appreciated too.


The carpet of green is just beginning to fill in.
Often times the trail through here is hidden under 3' of greenery. Not today. Photo by Mike.
I think Houston Bros. trail was a hit.

Such a beautiful place to ride.

Aspen Spring, our first sign of winter's damage. There used to be a rock bridge here to ride across, see below for an older pic.
Rock bridge from 2016.

More damage. Partially collapsed cabin. I'm guessing the weight of the snow was too much.

Aspen Spring.

Mike negotiates the cattle chutes.

Watch out!! Giant punji stick!!

Pinchot Cabin, unscathed by the weather.

Some history.
We were about to enter the closed area. I had an idea of where FR95 was washed out, but we were both awestruck by what we saw.

Chasm left in the water's wake. No timetable for repair at the moment.

The volume of water needed to cause this much damage is staggering. A giant 'V' carved out.

Serene scene now.
Going up the opposite side was a bit more work. HAB, enduro style!! Photo by Mike.

For an added bonus, hoist the bike over a large tree!! Photo by Mike.
Mike slogging his way up the obstacle course.

Back on sublime singletrack.

Fred Haught trail leads to the Arizona Trail.

Plenty of water through the drainage.

Snack break at the AZT split.

So much goodness. Only a handful of down trees all day, only 1 required a dismount.
Always good to put my tires on forested AZT singletrack. Photo by Mike.
Squeezing around a switchback.

Bouncing down some chunk.

General Springs cabin has an idyllic setting.

Lots of folks out and about this weekend.

The AZT plunges off the Rim.

Better view of Humphrey's Peak on the way back.

The ride back to the car seemed to go by quickly. The wind wasn't too bad overall, only a few short sections were of note. I'm still surprised that more people don't ride this area. Sure glad we did!!