Post-Deployment AZ Getaway!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In mid-December, I'm looking to travel down to sunny Arizona from snowbound upstate NY. I will get back from a little trip to Afghanistan in October, and want to recharge mind, body, and soul in the beautiful southwest.
I'm looking to ride for 8 or so days, putting in long miles during the day, and camping at night. Ideally, I'd only set up camp once, and ride out from there, but I am realistic, and not at all opposed to bikepacking to multiple "base camps".
Nor am I a singletrack snob; I will ride doubletrack, old mining roads, cattle paths, or anything else, in search of a view. I can handle any and all terrain you can throw at me.
I am very self-sufficient; all I will require for these 8 days is a source of water, and I will live out of a backpack for the entirety of my trip. I can, and most likely will, rent a car for this trip. So, flying in and driving to whatever ideal location(s) I decide upon is not a problem.
I desire clear night skies, long days in the saddle, and warm-ish daytime weather. At night, I don't care how cold it gets. Mountain warfare school is worse than anything they can cook up in AZ, I'm sure.
So, recommendations on connectable, winter accessible routes and campgrounds would be greatly appreciated.
well, its outside of the urban area but still close to phoenix... not sure if this is too close to civilization
Parks & Recreation - Maricopa County
but its within riding distance of cave creek park, phoenix sonoran north, and phoenix sonoran south.
if you want a guide for the cave creek race loop, let me know I can ride with you.
many thanks for keeping us safe and free !!
I will check these out. Thank you for the suggestions.
A mix of high-traffic routes and backcountry riding would be ideal. Get in some hard, perhaps multi-lap riding, and do some exploring, too.
Mid December is a great time to ride in the desert. If you want lotsa miles, plentiful places to camp, BCT is a great option as is the Arizona Trail anywhere south of Picket Post. Both of those, especially the Arizona trail is very remote but stunningly beautiful. Close to Phx are the McDowells which have tons of miles to ride with plenty of climbing. In a more urban setting, Phx Mountain Preserve, Sonoran Mountain Preserve, and South Mountain all are great places to ride for the day and it's pretty easy to rack up over 30 miles at each. If you use a GPS, go to my google drive and grab all you'd like.
In that directory, you'll find an excel file called ridefilesv1 that has a description of each.
Thanks for the info! Your thread about people's obsession with singletrack, and riding dirt roads/doubletrack really spoke to me. The pictures were absolutely amazing. That thread more or less sealed the deal for me, in terms of picking AZ as my destination.
Are any of the trails shown on the following link rideable in the winter? Tater Canyon, Kaibab Plateau? MountainBikeBill's ride on the Arizona Trail. I'd love to camp in a mountain meadow with a stream 20ft from my tent, with trees for shelter and plenty of firewood nearby.
They look to be higher in altitude than most. Might be snowbound that time of year.
More specifically, this is the sort of stuff I'm pining for:
Let me know if you end up on the west side. I'd be more than happy to show you around black canyon trail, white tanks, sonoran north and south, or the McDowells if you are further east. Personally, I'd pick some place off of BCT. LOTS of riding to be had out there in either direction, great trails with beautiful views
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Is the BCT generally lower in elevation, and/or warmer than the northern sections of the AZT? It seems like less than half of the segments on the AZT are recommended for riding in the winter; is that because of snow or some other factor I'm missing?
I found the ATA's interactive map, and in conjunction with Raybum's awesome files, I'm starting to get an idea of the lay of the land.
Re: Post-Deployment AZ Getaway!
Yeah BCT where you'd be riding it is all snow free. I'm guessing they say ride in the winter because in the summer it can easily be 120+ degrees out there! Not the best weather for an all day ride
Originally Posted by Le Duke
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I assumed you wanted something different from the cold of upstate NY. If that is the case, you'll want to stay under 5000 feet in elevation... I grew up in Maryland and the whole idea of elevation was irrelevant there. We never thought about elevation.
But here in Arizona elevation means everything... In summer we all flock to 5000+ and in the winter we all like to ride under 5000 feet... ( or something like that)..
Keep in mind the lower you are the less you'll freeze your ass off at night while camping...
Eh, I'm not worried about freezing my ass off at night. My fiancee and I have spent plenty of winter nights in a snow covered tent at 8-10,000+ feet in Colorado.
I just need it to be relatively pleasant during the day. I'd like to ride in either a long sleeve jersey and shorts, or short sleeves. 60 or better and I'm good to go.
I love bike!
First off...many thanks to you for your service
Have you researched Sedona at all? If you're ok with getting a bit chilly camping then I would think that this would be a great place for at least part of your trip. So many trails, beautiful views, and should be nice daytime temps (not a local myself but I would guess @ 60 degs/avg in Dec). Happy hunting!
Le Duke, those alpine meadow shots from the Kaibab will most likely be buried in snow. The north rim of the Grand Canyon closes down in the winter and that part of the AZT parallels the park entrance road on the north.
Staying under 5000' is a good rule of thumb as stated above. If the weather is clear (i.e no winter storm rolling in) you could take a day trip to check out the trails in Sedona as well.
I'd highly recommend the AZT south of Picketpost trailhead near the town of Superior, very remote stretches of trail. Check out the Arizona Endurance Series for some other route ideas in the area.
If you don't mind driving around a little bit while here, check out some fantastic loops down by Tucson as well.
sedona is a good idea for his purposes... I agree...
highs are generally 50's in december...
Camping/ biking in Sedona??
I thought I'd ask one more question, while this thread is still on the front page.
Are there any races to be had around this time of year? XC, or even CX?
I cant think of any races in December. Maybe that's related to xmas.
1 McDOWELL ? McDOWELL MELTDOWN | MBAA
Another option would be to do the Sunday Morning Flat Tire Bike shop "group ride" (yeah right)....
That's a race... not a group ride... This shop is in Cave Creek.
Post-Deployment AZ Getaway!
Agreed. You could ride Sedona for a day or two although the daily highs probably won't be in the 60-70 degree range. Chances are it would be sunny and comfortable from a MTB perspective. After Sedona, you could drive south on I17 (maybe an hour) and spend a couple days riding Black Canyon Trail which is located in the Black Canyon City/New River area. These are rural towns located due north of Phoenix. Incidentally, BCT was developed in conjunction with IMBA so it's very mountain-biking friendly.
Originally Posted by MtbAZ44
From there, maybe move onto Scottsdale and McDowell Mountain Park. The west side of the McDowell mountains feature a more chunky terrain but still very MTB-friendly. The east side is better groomed and not as rocky, but it's definitely a haven for mountain biking. You could see a bunch of hikers on the west side which is closest to Scottsdale and heavily touristed in the winter time. 60s-70s here.
As far as water goes, there is a stream that flows through BCT but it's earlier on if you elect to start from the Black Canyon City trailhead , and I'm not sure how sanitary the water is. No idea about Sedona, and MMP has none unless there's city water provided at the parking areas/trailhead. Pure desert. If I were you, I'd have some containers of water and ice chests in your car, and fill from those.
Also know that you can get out of cell range in a hurry in places like BCT even though your reasonably close to civilization. I would recommend someone carry a good GPS device. Anyway, keep on with the questions and we'll do our best to answer. AZ is truly an MTB destination for sure.
Please donate to IMBA or your local chapter. It's trail karma.
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