June 25, 2023

BCT: A Crooked Adventure

 The 'ol blog has been a little silent lately. Life decided to lob some curveballs our way. Everything is good, so let's resume our regularly scheduled program.

I've only been on the bike a handful of times since my last post in late April, but some key trail projects throughout our state have either wrapped up or will finish in the coming weeks/months. I have a short list of 'must-do' rides now and checking out a new section of the Black Canyon Trail, BCT, was high on the list.

It's up on the northern end of the trail near SR169. I had heard the trail was completed out to Mistake Tank and since it's farther north, the early summer temps wouldn't be too bad. It wasn't going to be a long ride, so I had a bit of a backup should I finish the BCT early. There was a section of the General Crook, GC, trail off FS323 leading back to my staging area on Old Cherry Rd. that I've been meaning to check out.

I arrived at an empty trailhead which was no surprise. I hopped on the 1.2 mile connector to the BCT via the GC trail where I was expecting to find fresh dirt. It wasn't exactly fresh, more like the old GC corridor was slightly cleared a couple of months ago. Some catclaw & Russian Thistle were already veering their ugly heads into the tread. *I highly suggest riding the northern sections of the BCT with clippers/loppers to help keep the tread vegetation clear*

Adventure begins here.
The BCT sign on the right in the above photo, was the latest new section built last year heading south towards Orme Rd. The GC trail, aka trail 64, would now share part of its alignment with the BCT.

Solar powered structure near the Waste Managent Regional Landfill. The route was now on a dirt road here.

Aha!! Here's some fresh dirt!!
I almost missed the turnoff to new singletrack as it wasn't signed and the dirt road was coming off a fast curve.

Looking back. The tread was soft and unused.

Sure is beautiful country up here.

Nice trailside color too.
I was really enjoying the routing as the trail dropped down and crossed Rattlesnake Wash. It wound around a nearby hillside then entered a flattish area where the tread was difficult to follow.

Nature is already reclaiming the new trail!! Ride straight.
The singletrack soon popped out on an old 2-track. I didn't see any signage so I went with the flow.

Last bit of single track.

The 2-track climbed up to a saddle then met with a more traveled dirt road, FS9604F.
Again, no signage to indicate which way to go. I could see SR169 off to the left, so I went that way knowing I'd have to cross it soon. The dirt road led me down to a pullout, but no trail. I hopped on SR169 and rode east for a bit scouring the nearby countryside for any sign of a new trail. Nada. Maybe I should've turned right on FS9604F?? Either way, I didn't quite make it to Mistake Tank. I opted to ride the wide shoulder of SR169 back to Cherry Rd. where I could make a loop using FS323 & the unscouted portion of the GC trail.

It was a nice ride along FS323 and I knew the GC turnoff was coming as the one residence in the area approached. These next few photos are all taken from the same spot:
FS323 with home in the distance.

General Crook entrance.

I'll do my best!!

Thankfully, the tread wasn't this overgrown!!

The beginning showed great promise.
The first mile or so was generally fast, fun riding.
The adventure began near those trees.
The singletrack dumped out on a well traveled 2-track. I followed it in the direction of travel and it soon forked. I went left to some cool rock formation and water!!

Beautiful spot, but a deadend.

Large pool of fresh water that was seeping from the ground near the tree on the far left. I didn't see a name for the spring on topo maps.
I went back to the fork and stayed right. It seemed to be a trail, then dropped into a very sandy wash...

Hmmm, this doesn't seem right.
Not having a gpx line to follow really made things interesting. Cell signal was intermittent too. I was able to pull up a satellite view and find the GC trail from my staging area. I followed it back to roughly my location and saw where I missed my turn. Time to leave the sand trap. I went back to where the singletrack ended and found a trail 64 signed toppled over. There 'may' be a trail here. I hiked in a bit and decided this was the way to go.

This was near the toppled 64 sign.

An old stone corral for a time long since passed.
The trail dropped into the trees and a dry gulch crossing. It appeared to continue up the other side. I kept following it, but it led me all the way back to FS323. That wasn't right. I made a U-turn back to the trees. I was able to pull up the Gaia app, which has a rough location for the GC trail. I was near it, but not on it. I went a bit beyond the trees and the app said I passed my turn. Dang it. Turn around again, but I couldn't find anything that resembled a trail. It looked like I was close on the Gaia app so I opted to bushwhack in the general direction I needed to go for a few minutes.

At the top of a small crest I checked the app again. Nope. Missed it the other way...again. Back down the small rise to the 'trail' I had been on earlier. The app showed I was really close, so I went right and wouldn't you know it. Barely 10 feet from where I was, a cairn was tucked under some brush. This HAS to be it. I hopped on and at the top of another short hill confirmed it with the Gaia app. Yesss!!

All that backtracking took almost an hour and a couple extra miles. Good thing it was early in the day and I had plenty of food/water...and lights!! Haha. IYKYK.

Looks like a legit trail here.

The riding sped back up and this wide singletrack eventually dumped into a 2-track.

The 2-track brought me back out to SR169 and a familiar looking sign. I must be in the right place!!

Cross over SR169 and join FS9604K.
I double checked the Gaia app here. Stay on the dirt road for a short bit and look for a trail when the road bends to the right.

Sure enough, there it is!!

Good looking trail too.

There was more generally fast riding through here.

An old cairn marker?? P16?

Done! Back at the trailhead.
This was a fun ride and now that I have a gpx track to follow, would be much easier to do. Below is a link to the raw Garmin Connect file, note all the out-n-back detours. If you want to do this ride, but not get lost, use the RidewithGPS link for a clean track. Trails have also been added to Trailforks. Enjoy!!

Soon, the BCT will connect all the way to the Verde River. 



No comments:

Post a Comment