December 23, 2020

Cow Creek Rd: Rednecks, Radishes & Keep out!!

 Back-to-back days doing scouting rides, how great is that? Y'days ride near Superior turned out to be a success, what would today's ride hold? Our annual ride around Lake Pleasant, the AES Pleasantville route, is a good one, but it gets shut down each year from Dec. 15 - June 15 because a portion of the route cuts through a Bald Eagle nesting habitat. Wouldn't it be cool to find an alternate route that bypasses that area? I thought so.

I began scouring the area maps and thought I found a way through, but there were some rumblings online about some private property issues. Maps weren't showing any along the route I had planned. No better way to find out than to put tires to dirt. I had a couple of takers, which was perfect since setting up a shuttle for this ride was the wise thing to do. Mike, Igor and myself met at Rock Springs trailhead, then drove around Lake Pleasant to where this route deviated from the Pleasantville route.

Our first main goal was to reach the historic mining camp of Columbia Mine. We figured if we could get through there we were set and that was near mile 7 or so. Time to roll.

Northbound on Cow Creek Rd. one of the widest dirt roads evah.

The terrain rapidly turned un-flat.

Not quite three miles in, our turn towards Columbia Mine...
...was met with a series of No Trespassing signs. Hmmm, wasn't expecting that this early on. There weren't any gates, but the signs were clearly on the road discouraging forward progress. I figured anyone who lives this far out really doesn't want company. We were able to get enough signal to find a possible alternate route around. Continue north on Cow Creek Rd.

Interesting spot as we leave the Columbia Trl. turnoff.

Old ranch remnants.

Must've been quite the desert oasis, in-ground pool and all.

The creek bed was dry, but water was trickling underground flowing out below this dam.

Looks like there's more private property out here than we thought. Cow Creek Rd. is the dark black line going up the left side of the parcel map. Our first deadend at Columbia Trl. is the southernmost righthand turn above the down arrow.

Look closely, find the wild burros.

A slew of Keep Out & No Trespassing signs by this 'riffle' wielding redneck. Keep heading north.

That. Is. Massive. Perfect message too, but we were running out of options.
We debated on what to do, keep heading north hoping we could find a way to head east or cut our losses and head back. We were a little over 7 miles up Cow Creek Rd. and a ways off our intended route with no real confidence we could get through.

Plan B would be to head back to Rock Springs where Mike and I were parked and ride the Black Canyon Trail for a bit. Sounded good to us.

On our way back the guys noticed this giant pile of red just beyond the Columbia Trl turn, we missed it earlier in the day.

Radishes, lots & lots of radishes. Like thousands of them.

Good place to practice some crowd surfing, no? Sounds like the local ranchers dump produce every so often for the wild burros in the area.

Igor spotted this spiral on our way out. Is it legit??

Lake Pleasant coming into view.

Really cool perspective from up here.

Why did we park at the top of the steepest hill??
Well, win some, lose some, but we all got to ride and see some new terrain and scratch our heads over some of the sights & finds out there. So, I'd call it a success. Next stop: Burritos.


We were in Joe's neighborhood, so I shot him a text to see if he was free to join us for our BCT ride. He was, so after we grabbed some burritos, we made our way to Joe's house. Joe got ready while we chowed down.

Mike had yet to ride this section of BCT, so it was great to get some fresh eyes on it.
Off we go, heading south from Rock Springs.

Fast forward to the top of the Little Pan Loop. Igor continues on.
Joe, Mike and I had had enough for the day. We turned around, content with the Skyline & Cheap Shot segments, two of my favorites along the entire BCT.

Joe begins the climb back from the Little Pan Loop.

Up on the right side of that rock outcropping above Mike, there are two small arches. Neat.

Love this section of trail.

That's Black Canyon City way down there.

The ever changing rock art at the top of the Skyline climb.

Joe rides left, Mike rides right on the upper switchbacks of Skyline.

Joe cruising along the hillside.

Mike traverses the saddle.

Agua Fria crossing, still has some water, but we need rain!!

Home stretch back to Rock Springs.

Spectacular in late afternoon light.
While our initial plan didn't go as we hoped, having a solid plan B option turned in to a pretty rad day. We still did some cool exploring and rode an amazing slice of trail. Thanks fellas for coming out.


December 22, 2020

Superior: North Loop

 Picketpost?? Again?? Sounds like a broken record, but believe it or not, it was for a different route than probably anyone has done. Mike was able to join in the fun for this scouting ride. Our proposed route would take us through Arnett Canyon, continue east on the L.O.S.T. (Legends of Superior Trail) through Superior, up through the old Claypool tunnel, then wrap around to the north using dirt roads to link to the Arizona Trail at the base of Montana Mtn. Then AZT back to Picketpost. If all went smoothly & relatively quick, we had the option to climb Montana Mtn. for the full AZT run.

This ride was hatched a couple of years ago when the Locorides crew took on the Apache Tears loop, but the south end was so slow going we had to bail on the northern section.

We dropped into Arnett Canyon via the alternate trail from Picketpost trailhead. Still in full autumn splendor.

The L.O.S.T. would get us into town.

Finally got to check out the new tread, a very nice improvement.

Some nice benchcut trail too.

This was a welcomed find, a short spur trail connecting the L.O.S.T. to Circle K!!

Quite the elaborate bridge spanning Queen Creek.

Nice stonework on the north bank of Queen Creek. I'll have to come back when the creek is flowing.

Mike crosses the bridge and we noted the fancy bar & grille it led to.

Cruising through downtown Superior. Nice to see some renovation happening here.

Making our way up Queen Creek Canyon on the old historic Superior-Miami Highway.

We're far below the current US60.

Legendary indeed. The convict highway.

We found the rock from the plaque above. Neato.

It didn't take us long to get high above the Superior water tank. The climbing grade was very rideable.

Terrain becoming more interesting. Watch for falling rocks!! :o

The old Claypool tunnel.

So glad this is still open to bikes & hikers.

Don't know who Mr. Don is, but RIP.

End of the line for the L.O.S.T. New US60 tunnel here.
Now for the sketchiest part of the route: 2 miles on busy US60, no shoulder. At least there is a passing lane so vehicles have a bit of wiggle room and the sight lines are decent. We broke out our blinky lights as well. Let's get this over with...

We reached our dirt turnoff without incident, but were both very glad to be done with those 2 miles.

Ruh-roh. Hmmm. This didn't show on any map....recalculating. It's too bad because the road we were on was a great riding surface. At least we only had to backtrack about a quarter mile.
We spotted a small sign indicating a public route, so we figured many others ran into a similar situation. If we couldn't find a way through, it was still easy enough to turn around.
Making my way up a long gradual climb. Photo by Mike.

The route led up to the Silver King substation. Good place for a snack break.

Some rugged riding ensued, but nothing crazy. We figured we'd follow the powerlines back to the original route.

Now it's an adventure.

Looks like we found the mining operation.

Down we go!!

That's Mt. Lemmon in the distance.
The loose chundery downhill was almost my undoing. The bike slipped out from under me, I landed on my feet, but my GPS mount broke...again. Drat. I decided it would be wise to just walk down the loose grade. Not so fast as my feet went out from under me and I went down hard on my elbow in downhill hike-a-bike mode!! How's that for a slap in the face.
Downhill walk of shame after wiping out twice!! Photo by Mike.

At the bottom of the treacherous downhill we found the nice road we intended to ride. Back on route.

We were ready to cover more miles a bit quicker.

This lake filled open pit was fenced off, but a bit surprised this wasn't part of the closure we had to ride around.

Up we go.

We encountered one Jeep going the other way, that was it. Curious to know if they made the climb up that loose grade.

Picketpost Mtn. looking tiny.

Picketpost Mtn. in the right of the V-shaped valley. B&W for effect. Photo by Mike.

Not much of a gate for mountain bikers. Photo by Mike.

It was high enough to crouch under!! Photo by Mike.

Nearing our high point of the ride around 5100', Superstition Mtns. to the far left, Sierra Anchas to the far right. Looks like our route cutting down the near hillside too.

Some really good riding up here.

Here's a panoramic view from left to right over the next few photos. Some interesting names. PeakFinder app.

No labels here, just Picketpost dead center.

FS650 can be seen cutting through the valley below. Our exit strategy.

Massive views from this spot. We could see the main drainage we'd be riding down, along FS650, far below. (Not pictured here)

More contouring first.

A welcomed uphill pitch on the way down.
By the time we reached FS650, we knew we didn't have enough time to climb Montana Mtn. Heck, we opted to skip most of the AZT on our way back since we still had over an hour to ride and Mike needed to get back. Not a problem as we were both feeling worked over.

The miles of dirt roads led us to the last 2 miles of singletrack on the AZT.

Back at Picketpost trailhead, mission complete!!
This ended up being a cool route, everything except the 2 paved miles on US60 after the tunnel...and maybe that downhill chunk I wrecked on. Really glad we were able to find a workaround for the mine closure. I'm sure I'll ride this loop again sometime.