May 4, 2019

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.



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