TR - Pine AZ for Memorial Day 2017

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by evdog, Jun 6, 2017.

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  1. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    With Memorial Day approaching some of the usual destinations were too hot, while some others were still snowed under. The week before I wasn't sure I'd go anywhere as my knee had been acting up. But some recent forum chatter about Pine AZ reminded me that I'd been wanting to get up there and ride as lots of work has been put into the trails the last few years. It looked like there were tons of ride options and bailouts so I made a pretty last minute decision to head up there.

    I normally like stopping over to camp at Buckeye as its close and I just like desert camping, but I decided to push on to sleep in the cool pines instead. An already late arrival was delayed slightly when I got pulled over by an eagle eyed highway patrolman who noticed my licence plate light was out. Oops. ...Fix it ticket.

    I headed up top the Mogollon Rim and got a spot along Milk Ranch Pt Rd. I didn't even notice this gargantuan fire pit til the morning, coulda had a monster campfire if I'd had the time to gather a cord of firewood.


    I settled on the Cabin Loop for a first ride, and checked out some views along the rim on the way over.


    As with the drive in prior night most of the better looking campsites were taken. A few gems remained. Camping on the rim would be cool to see sunrise/sunset, but seemed like it would be really windy.


    From what I'd read of the Cabin loop options, Ubar Trail had lots of downed trees and Houston Bros Trail was a nice descent. So I opted to do a loop of FR300 to Houston Bros to Fred Haught/AZT.

    Another view. It was about 3.5 miles ride on FR300 to Houston Bros Trail


    Houston Brothers was very raw trail to start. Within about 5 mins I was hike a biking up a steep hill. 5 mins later I ran into the first group of backpackers, a boy scout troop. Seemed like there was a group of hikers for each hike a bike. Between all of that and a dozen downed trees there was lots of start-stop in the first 3 miles.


    I had expected the trails all to myself, but I was running into hikers every 10 mins. I also wasn't expecting this many HABs but they were numerous as well. At least they were short, and in the shade.


    After crossing FR 139A the rest of the trail was a nice pedal through meadows and alongside a nice stream.


    Now this was the sort of singletrack I'd been looking forward to


    Not quite deep enough to go for a soak


    There were people camping at the Aspen Springs Cabin so I didn't go over for a pic, but did stop at the Pinchot Cabin a mile later


    From there I turned onto the Fred Haught Trail which heads over and then joins the AZT. There were even more backpackers on these trails. Without exaggeration I was running into another group every 5 minutes. All were nice people though and stoked to be out on such an awesome weekend. Interestingly most were unaware of the crowds as they were all heading the same direction and hadn't crossed paths with many others. A few commented how this was the first time they'd ever seen many people out hiking here even on a long weekend. Almost all were heading to Pinchot or Aspen Spring to camp. I told them they may be sleeping shoulder to shoulder with all the other hikers in front of them.

    Water crossing


    Ferns coming to life. Will be spectacular in a month or two


    Cool rocky section of AZT


    Another cabin. Meh....


    This was a pretty good ride, lots of variety and history. The Houston Bros descent was definitely the high point. The loop was close to 19mi and +/- 1,900ft. The more interesting stat was 50-60 hikers, and zero other bikers.
  2. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 1, Ride #2

    It was mid afternoon and I had plenty of time for another ride. I figured I would head down into Pine and finally use the 2 for 1 pints coupon that comes with Arizona Trail Assn membership each year. One look at the crowd at the brewery though and I drove right by, it was packed. Had lunch over at the Pine TH instead and looked at options for a Pine-Strawberry loop.

    It is possible to do this ride as an all singletrack loop. A couple segments needed to close the loop though, Walnut Tr and Hardscrabble Mesa, look like 5 miles of suck. Normally I am stubborn and would ride it anyways cuz it's there, but it was getting on toward 5pm by this point and I didn't want to burn my daylight hours on crap trail. So I cut those segments out in favor of a quick spin up Hardscrabble Mesa Rd.

    Pine TH


    First up was the Pine - Strawberry Trail


    It had a stout climb to begin with and then some fun descending


    Lots of evidence of very recent trailwork


    Very recent


    Cool old manzanita on Bearfoot Trail


    While the new trailwork was nice there was still some tough riding and things weren't going as fast as I had hoped. It soon became obvious I was going to be finishing in the dark.


    I saw a couple elk down near some homes below Bearfoot, and then came smack into a couple more right on the trail. These ones were funny, they would run up the hill, and I'd catch them again in a switchback or two. Then they ran over the ridgeline, just as the trail contoured around it. Then they dropped down the hill, just as the trail wound around and did the same. Finally they took off the opposite direction and I didn't see them again.


    Ferns near the north end of Bearfoot


    The Bearfoot bridge. Final pic.


    I still had 7 miles to go. The trail profile didn't look bad with just a couple climbs otherwise trending downhill. The climbs had a few steep pitches and two series of switchbacks that seemed really flat but still required a lot of effort. This wasn't the easy downhill rip I had envisioned. My knee wasn't hurting like it had on the first ride, but I was completely wiped out by this point. Finally got back to the truck around 930, and didn't feel well enough to even drive anywhere. I think it was dehydration. Had a nap for an hour, then some food and headed east on the control road to find a place to camp.

    There was not much in the way of easy miles on this ride. Including the road pedal to start it was around 20mi and 2,900ft. Oof. That may explain why I was so tired, hadn't expected a 40 mile day...
    mike, hill^billy, Luis and 17 others like this.
  3. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 2 was still undecided. I had considered going over to Show-low / Pinetop-Lakeside for a day, but ultimately decided to stay closer to Pine. Someone had mentioned that 5 miles of Highline trail had recently been fixed up near Washington Park. I had camped not far from there, so I decided to check it out in the morning.

    Washington Park is the trailhead where the AZT begins its main climb up to the top of the Mogollon Rim, ~1200ft in 2 miles. From Pine to Washington Park is one of the notoriously brutal sections of AZT that has tons of HAB. The section going east from there is what has been recently worked on. Right now it's an out and back.


    Beginning of the Washington Park - east section


    A bit of tough climbing to begin with and then rolling terrain on red dirt


    There is plenty of rock around. Some nice rock rolls and slabs were included here and there, other rock will poke through the dirt as the trail beds in


    Parts will remind you of Sedona.


    Fern forest


    Nice views along the way too


    More Sedona


    Nice rideable roller


    Plenty of water flowing


    The last 1/2 mile of trailwork was obviously very recent. Mine were the only tire tracks on it. As it got loose to the point of being unfinished, the trailwork suddenly ended and a rutted out mess appeared before me. End of the line, for now. I had entertained thoughts of continuing another couple miles to where two ridgeline trails appear to drop back down to the control road. But walking a bit up the un-worked on trail changed my mind, and I rode back on the nice new trail instead. Big thanks to the crew doing this work!


    The distance according to my GPS was 4.4 miles each way, and +600/-200ft for the ride out. I ran into 3-4 families out hiking this section, mostly closer to the trailhead. No sign of the trail machine, so I presume they are done working for the season.
    mike, hill^billy, Luis and 16 others like this.
  4. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 2, ride #2

    One ride I wanted to do most on this trip was to check out a longer rideable section of Highline trail. A few years ago I looped Derrick Tr to Highline to Horton Creek Trail. Todays ride would include sections on either side of that. If time allowed, I would skip the Highline segment I'd done before and descend Derrick before climbing back up Horton, which seems to be the preferred route. That middle section of Highline was partially rebuilt but still has some nasty HAB and poor conditions.

    This would be a point to point self shuttle so I dropped the moto off at the day use area at the bottom of Derrick Tr and headed up toward the rim. For some bonus miles and shorter shuttle I parked at the Rim Top TH intending to ride the Rim Lake Vista trail over to the Military Sinkhole Trail, which would drop down to Highline. After just a hundred yards that plan came to an end as the trail disappeared into a field of logging carnage. I'm sure it would have emerged a few hundred yards later near the rim's edge. But this trail was not my main target for the day so in the interest of time I skipped over to the road for a quick pedal to the Military Sinkhole TH.

    Rim overlook at the top of Military Sinkhole


    Start of a fun, rocky descent


    Brief section that was not rocky


    Military Sinkhole flowed well til the bottom when it turned into a long series of steep techy climbs and descents.

    The next bunch of miles were really fun rolling terrain. No major climbs, but a nice descent to the See Canyon TH


    More Sedona


    After seeing no one for a couple hours it was a shock rolling into that TH where people were camping, screaming kids running around and an obnoxious ******* doing donuts all over on an unnecessarily loud ATV. It gave me motivation to climb away from the mayhem back to peaceful backcountry.


    A series of switchbacks which recently replaced some fall line HAB got me back up to some nice views


    I had my suspicions that if I dropped down Derrick Trail I'd bail on the rest of the ride rather than climb Horton Creek in the dark. So I kept going on Highline. The first mile and a half is nice, then there is some crappy steep HAB for a while. It was actually in better shape than I remembered, no downed trees at least. I was able to ride most of the descents until my dropper post suddenly decided it wasn't going to drop anymore. It really isn't that bad a segment, but the HAB is a bit of a downer.


    There is some nice trail in a few places


    Dropping in to the Horton Creek drainage there is a nice stream complete with waterfalls


    And one of the coolest things you'll see in AZ, where the stream flows right out of the rocks on the hillside


    There were a couple separate groups camping there and I was getting short on light so I didn't hang around


    There is a bit of a climb and some rolling terrain over to a small saddle, then it is mostly downhill on some loose rocky trail to the Fish Hatchery. And from there, about 3 miles of pavement descent back to the moto. Shuttle retrieval was not too cold, and then it was off to find a camping spot for the night.

    The ride was about 26mi total including pavement ending, +3100/-5200.
    mike, hill^billy, Danimal and 15 others like this.
  5. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Day 3

    I decided to drive on til I found a place to camp that would have a sunrise view. As with the first night, most of the good places were occupied. I finally found one, but not having the best sense of direction in the dark it turned out to be facing too far southwest to see the sunrise itself. That was no big deal, as I slept through the sunrise anyways. Views were still adequate...


    Considering where I made camp, I was closer to the Cabin loop than anything else. So I decided to ride the other side of the loop, Barbershop to Ubar to Houston Brothers. A few hikers had informed me on Day 1 that I was riding the loop the wrong way and that Ubar and Barbershop were the better trails to ride.

    Parking where Barbershop crosses FR139 I quickly got into a fun, rocky descent


    This was immediately followed by a steep, rocky HAB. Then a section of nice trail


    This was the pattern on Barbershop - steep descent, steep HAB, nice section of meadow or forest trail. Trail goes straight ahead in the pic below.


    Big meadow made for nice riding


    I wasn't sure what to expect on Ubar but it had looked to have a more favorable elevation profile than Barbershop with a general trend of descending and just two distinct drops in/out of drainages.


    Start of the descent into drainage #1


    There was a nice campsite at the bottom of each drainage. The stream in the second one had small trout up to about 4" length.


    I really liked Ubar. There were just a few downed trees, and even with those the trail flowed a lot better than Barbershop without the frequent HABs. The HAB out of each main drainage only took 10 min but the drop into each was fun, and worth it. There were a few short segments of forest road but those went by quickly and I was soon rounding the corner back onto the sweet section of Houston Bros Trail.

    Nice contrast between bright ferns and dark rock ledge


    No one was camping at the Aspen Spring cabin this time, just a couple hikers hanging out by the spring


    I ran into a few of the same backpackers that I saw on day 1, still making their way around the loop. Seems like most of them took a different route than Ubar-Barbershop, or they were faster and already done.

    Mileage was about 17 for the day and +/- 2,200ft.

    This was a good trip in all. The knee only bothered me on the first ride of day 1. And almost all the trail was new to me.

    I wouldn't say the riding here is as good as Flagstaff or Prescott, but it was mostly fun and something different. Hopefully it will only get better if the trailwork continues.
    mike, hill^billy, Danimal and 20 others like this.
  6. doublewide

    doublewide iMTB Rockstah

    Current Bike:
    Ride Life Ride Giant
    Awesome report Evan!! Super jelly.....
    Faust29, Mikie and UPSed like this.
  7. Sasquatch9billion

    Sasquatch9billion Well-Known Member

    trinidad j. mendez
    Nice read with good pics first thing in the morning, thanks!
  8. Voodoo Tom

    Voodoo Tom MTB Addict

    Tom Kokkinakis
    Current Bike:
    Mango one, blue one, black one
    I spot a new Ibis... Perhaps it's the one that was for sale on here? Yet another awesome report @evdog . Thanks for sharing.
    Faust29 and Mikie like this.
  9. pperrelle

    pperrelle Well-Known Member

    Current Bike:
    Ibis Ripmo, Ripley & Tranny
    Stellar ride and ride report! :thumbsup:
    Faust29 and Mikie like this.
  10. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Lebec, California
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    @evdog !
    Jeez Louise! Great report and camera eye.
    Thanks as always for the adventure after the adventure on the pages of imtbtrails.

    Hey I'm back up to speed if you want to get that Cherry Creek ride in up at my house. @Voodoo Tom is always up for the ride, so there is three. Need to get it in before it get's too hot in the San Joaquin Valley.
    Let me know!

  11. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Western US
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    GG Smash
    Another foray into the goods and epic report – TFPU, Ev! :thumbsup::thumbsup:
  12. Faust29

    Faust29 iMTB Hooligan

    Rancho Santa Margarita
    Current Bike:
    3 SC is now 2 SC.
    As always, your reports are a pleasure to read! You multi-day guys always get me thinking it's time to get my feet wet and break from the norm! :thumbsup:
  13. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Thanks guys!
    Busted! Yeah, I snapped it up. Been looking at new bikes for a couple years so it was time!

    You just need to do more HAB on rides to give the legs a break. Then you can ride back to back.
  14. scan

    scan Well-Known Member

    fran allas
    Current Bike:
    Scott Spark
    Great report, pleasure to read!!! Looks like your bike photo bombed many of the pics:):)
    Tom the Bomb likes this.
  15. Tom the Bomb

    Tom the Bomb Well-Known Member

    Alta Loma, Ca.
    Thomas Cosgrove
    Current Bike:
    Niner rip 9
    Very nice.
  16. Luis

    Luis iMTB Addict

    Current Bike:
    Big Black 29er
    Thanks to the pic slot machine I get to see this ride report that I somehow missed :thumbsup:

    Loved the picture of the yuuuuge manzanita. It's rare to see them get that big in the San Gabes since they get fried every ten years or so :(
  17. hill^billy

    hill^billy Well-Known Member

    This report has something to do with my next vacation being planed this morning, heading to Arizona first to check our options on scenery to spend the last chapter away from the waste land I called home for so many years.
    Luis and mike like this.

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