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  1. #1
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    Mt. Graham Trail Recon Trip

    So, rumor has it that Sunrise will not be open for bikes on Memorial Day. A quick check of the webcam confirms that the top of the mountain is still covered in snow.
    The family wants to go camping Memorial weekend.
    I want to check out the trails on Mt Graham.
    A call to the Safford ranger station reveals that the top of the mountain still has snow on it. They expect to have the road open by the 28th, but call as they might have it open sooner.
    I expect that the trails on the southern slopes of the mountain should be relatively clear of snow.
    Anyone else down for a little exploring/clearing/riding?
    Now I DRIVE the short bus!!


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  2. #2
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    I'm sure it varies depending on the trail, but I was there last fall and there was a lot of deadfall up high and along Ash Creek. I'm not even sure which trails are open to bikes to be honest, but it sure is pretty up there, you will have a good time regardless. A large portion is still closed due to the red squirrel refuge. get ready to ride/hike in Aspens!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henrythewound
    I'm sure it varies depending on the trail, but I was there last fall and there was a lot of deadfall up high and along Ash Creek. I'm not even sure which trails are open to bikes to be honest, but it sure is pretty up there, you will have a good time regardless. A large portion is still closed due to the red squirrel refuge. get ready to ride/hike in Aspens!
    Yeah, I know the very top of the mountain has been closed for decades due to the red squirrels.
    All the trails on the mountain are open to bikes as none of it is 'Wilderness'.
    The ranger rattled off a list of like six trails that have had trail work "in the last six months". I know that doesn't mean much coming back from the winter storms we have had, but at least we are not looking at several years worth of deadfall.
    As I said, this is a recon mission.
    Anyway, thanks for the HU.
    Now I DRIVE the short bus!!


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  4. #4
    dirt visionary
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    I am in unless for some reason I must work . Also as far as I have been reading of trip logs from hikers hiking the trails they are or were in good shape . Thats is as James mention before winter got ahold of the mountain .
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of
    arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body.

  5. #5
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    Grant Hill and Cunningham Loops are the main MTB trials on the high part of the mountain, at 9000' doubtful they'll be ready.
    If you want to do a brutal push you can try the Ash Creek descent either to the valley or to Round the Mountain Trail a ride that includes 3000' of climbing and 7000' descent to near the base. I'll never try it.
    Usually camp there in June, before monsoons as storms get nasty there. Stay away from the lake, most crowded spot.
    agmtb

  6. #6
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    was out at safford today didn't get to go up the mountain but the north slopes were visibly covered in snow about half way down the mountain..might be a while

  7. #7
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    ... and if we just ... Recon trip a go!

    Spoke with the Safford ranger today. The road and campgrounds are all open and there is little snow left on top.
    AccuWeather says highs in 60's, lows in 40's, winds possible.
    Looks like it's all go for a scout out on my favorite Sky Island.
    Any one else up for a little trail exploring/clearing?
    I am interested to see how Arcadia trail has changed over the past few years.
    Now I DRIVE the short bus!!


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  8. #8
    Shred...it's the new drug
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    Nice James...bring back the beta and some pics to build the stokage...I hear its good up there!

  9. #9
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    that sounds like a really fun trip, I wish I could go, always wanted to ride mtb on grahm. I have heard that there are a lot of cute little black bears out there that like to eat mtbr's for dinner so watch out!(just kidding)

  10. #10
    Tucson, AZ
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    Heading up to Mt Graham now for a few days with Krein and Lee. I will report back how Around the Mountain Epic and Arcardia rides go.

  11. #11
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    Arcadia should be hard for a few more years. 8" logs were put across the trail for erosion but until it fills in between them it's hopping around 200 logs in 5 miles. Many trees burned in the fire, ferns no longer on trail.
    Ash Creek-Round the Mountain looks brutally epic. Downfall will be plentiful. HAVE FUN!
    agmtb

  12. #12
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    Good job! Trip Report

    After finally getting myself, and the family packed up and headed out of town at about 7pm. We stopped in Globe for last minute supplies and headed toward Safford. I hadn't been to Safford in a few years and was awed by the sight of the new Mormon Temple all lit up at midnight on a Friday. We arrived in camp at about 1am saturday.

    The first trail I wanted to check out was Arcadia. I thought that my stepson could handle this trail with me. My wife drove us to the dropoff at Shannon Campground and was to meet us in about two hours at Upper Arcadia Campground. The trail presented us with deadfall and snow banks almost immediately, not to mention the scrub that is encroaching the trail. After removing a couple small trees and cutting another larger one, I began to wonder how long this might really take. Zack then announces that his front brake is not working. While trying to slide the next tree downhill, I pull/tear/pop something in my left elbow and feel immediate pain. As we turn the next corner I see more deadfall and snow. It is now painfully obvious that there is no way we can continue and expect to make the 2hr rendezvous. We are not even halfway to the saddle on in the badly burned area yet. I make the call to return to Shannon and try to contact the wife. Cell service can be spotty on Mt. Graham, so I wasn't sure that I would be able to contact my wife. I sent a text and told her that Zack was staying up top since his brake was not working and that I was riding down the road to Arcadia CG to find her. I got about six miles down the road by the time I met her. The Swift Trail (highway) is really fun to ride on a bike, lots of switchbacks and curves.
    Since I can still move my arm and it is only really painful when I pull on it certain ways, I decide to ride my XC bike on the loop trail across the road from camp. I only went for a very short portion of the 6.5 mi loop (maybe 1 mi) and turned around and came back. Only a few small deadfalls that were easily cleared with one arm. I had ridden the loop trail years ago and remember it to be a good time. Looking at the map at the trailhead, it even appears that it crosses briefly into the Red Squirrel Refugeum @ 10,000 ft.
    On Sunday morning, my arm is feeling better and I decide to check out the Grant/Goudy Ridge trail from Soldier Creek Campground to Fort Grant. Heading down the trail, I encounter some deadfall in the first half mile(?) About 20 total, about half of which I was able to clear myself. After that it was smooth sailing. The trail is your usual ridgeline pack trail. Steep, rocky, tight switchbacks, ripping descents, and short uphill sections. The trail was well marked with stone cairns in areas where it might be unclear. The final section just before the forest road is really cool riding in a bouldery ridge. The trail ends at Grant Creek and you ride the forest road out to Fort Grant. This was a great trail, and the only drawbacks are the switchbacks, and the long shuttle drive. The views alone are worth it. According to the Forest Service trail description this trail is rated "more difficult".

    For Monday I decided to attempt Ladybug Trail. This trail is rated as "most difficult". I had tried years ago to climb this trail and was thwarted by the rugged, rocky lower section. From the trailhead at the top of the road, it is a short hike up to the Ladybug summit. The trail heads down along a narrow ridgeline. Again ridgeline trail with hike and bike sections. Some of the DH areas are super steep switchbacks that definately challenge the rider to stay on trail. Exposure is extreme in many portions of the trail. About 1/3 of the way down the trail, there is a trail leading to the summer homes at Turkey Flat. This was the decision point. I could bail out and ride the road down from Turkey Flat, or I could continue down to Angle Orchard. I chose the latter. Heading into the final portion of the trail it starts to open up with more rocks. Coming around a corner, my front wheel went off the tread and slid into another rock, catapulting me over the bars. I went headlog into a rock and could feel my neck compress as I am praying that I will be able to finish this trail. Just as I am picking myself up and wondering what would have happened if I hadn't been able to get up, the only hiker I had seen (and would see) all day comes up the trail. She asked where I had come from and I told her. She told me the trail was really rocky and I should be careful. I thanked her for the advice and told her I just had an encounter with the rocks mere seconds before she came along. As we are chatting about the trails on the mountain, my cell phone rings and it is my wife wondering where I am. I told her I was almost done and would get back as soon as possible. The trail finally descended into the final canyon and in the bottom was a nice flowing stream. I took a few minutes to splash water on myself to cool down and climb the final stretch out to the end.
    In summation, the trails on Mt Graham are epic and see little traffic. Probably most suited for an All-Mountain bike, due to the tight switchbacks and ridge climbs. My DH bike was great when the trail pointed down, but kinda sucked on the climbs. The shuttles for most trails are kind of long, except for Ladybug and Arcadia, where the shuttle driver will have lots of time.
    I would like to get out there again and check out the other trails I have not yet ridden. I am sure that they will be just as challenging.
    I am hoping that I can get a group of people out to experience the epic gnar that is Mt. Graham.

    I have not got all my pics ready. Hope to post those tomorrow.
    Now I DRIVE the short bus!!


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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShortBusJames
    After finally getting myself, and the family packed up and headed out of town at about 7pm. We stopped in Globe for last minute supplies and headed toward Safford. I hadn't been to Safford in a few years and was awed by the sight of the new Mormon Temple all lit up at midnight on a Friday. We arrived in camp at about 1am saturday.

    The first trail I wanted to check out was Arcadia. I thought that my stepson could handle this trail with me. My wife drove us to the dropoff at Shannon Campground and was to meet us in about two hours at Upper Arcadia Campground. The trail presented us with deadfall and snow banks almost immediately, not to mention the scrub that is encroaching the trail. After removing a couple small trees and cutting another larger one, I began to wonder how long this might really take. Zack then announces that his front brake is not working. While trying to slide the next tree downhill, I pull/tear/pop something in my left elbow and feel immediate pain. As we turn the next corner I see more deadfall and snow. It is now painfully obvious that there is no way we can continue and expect to make the 2hr rendezvous. We are not even halfway to the saddle on in the badly burned area yet. I make the call to return to Shannon and try to contact the wife. Cell service can be spotty on Mt. Graham, so I wasn't sure that I would be able to contact my wife. I sent a text and told her that Zack was staying up top since his brake was not working and that I was riding down the road to Arcadia CG to find her. I got about six miles down the road by the time I met her. The Swift Trail (highway) is really fun to ride on a bike, lots of switchbacks and curves.
    Since I can still move my arm and it is only really painful when I pull on it certain ways, I decide to ride my XC bike on the loop trail across the road from camp. I only went for a very short portion of the 6.5 mi loop (maybe 1 mi) and turned around and came back. Only a few small deadfalls that were easily cleared with one arm. I had ridden the loop trail years ago and remember it to be a good time. Looking at the map at the trailhead, it even appears that it crosses briefly into the Red Squirrel Refugeum @ 10,000 ft.
    On Sunday morning, my arm is feeling better and I decide to check out the Grant/Goudy Ridge trail from Soldier Creek Campground to Fort Grant. Heading down the trail, I encounter some deadfall in the first half mile(?) About 20 total, about half of which I was able to clear myself. After that it was smooth sailing. The trail is your usual ridgeline pack trail. Steep, rocky, tight switchbacks, ripping descents, and short uphill sections. The trail was well marked with stone cairns in areas where it might be unclear. The final section just before the forest road is really cool riding in a bouldery ridge. The trail ends at Grant Creek and you ride the forest road out to Fort Grant. This was a great trail, and the only drawbacks are the switchbacks, and the long shuttle drive. The views alone are worth it. According to the Forest Service trail description this trail is rated "more difficult".

    For Monday I decided to attempt Ladybug Trail. This trail is rated as "most difficult". I had tried years ago to climb this trail and was thwarted by the rugged, rocky lower section. From the trailhead at the top of the road, it is a short hike up to the Ladybug summit. The trail heads down along a narrow ridgeline. Again ridgeline trail with hike and bike sections. Some of the DH areas are super steep switchbacks that definately challenge the rider to stay on trail. Exposure is extreme in many portions of the trail. About 1/3 of the way down the trail, there is a trail leading to the summer homes at Turkey Flat. This was the decision point. I could bail out and ride the road down from Turkey Flat, or I could continue down to Angle Orchard. I chose the latter. Heading into the final portion of the trail it starts to open up with more rocks. Coming around a corner, my front wheel went off the tread and slid into another rock, catapulting me over the bars. I went headlog into a rock and could feel my neck compress as I am praying that I will be able to finish this trail. Just as I am picking myself up and wondering what would have happened if I hadn't been able to get up, the only hiker I had seen (and would see) all day comes up the trail. She asked where I had come from and I told her. She told me the trail was really rocky and I should be careful. I thanked her for the advice and told her I just had an encounter with the rocks mere seconds before she came along. As we are chatting about the trails on the mountain, my cell phone rings and it is my wife wondering where I am. I told her I was almost done and would get back as soon as possible. The trail finally descended into the final canyon and in the bottom was a nice flowing stream. I took a few minutes to splash water on myself to cool down and climb the final stretch out to the end.
    In summation, the trails on Mt Graham are epic and see little traffic. Probably most suited for an All-Mountain bike, due to the tight switchbacks and ridge climbs. My DH bike was great when the trail pointed down, but kinda sucked on the climbs. The shuttles for most trails are kind of long, except for Ladybug and Arcadia, where the shuttle driver will have lots of time.
    I would like to get out there again and check out the other trails I have not yet ridden. I am sure that they will be just as challenging.
    I am hoping that I can get a group of people out to experience the epic gnar that is Mt. Graham.

    I have not got all my pics ready. Hope to post those tomorrow.
    Nice James. Ready to die for the cause! Sounds beautiful and terrific!
    How long does it take to get to this mt? I was thinking 3-3.5 hours?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tmarkos
    Nice James. Ready to die for the cause! Sounds beautiful and terrific!
    How long does it take to get to this mt? I was thinking 3-3.5 hours?
    Yeah, It is about 3hrs to Safford and another hour to the top from there.
    Now I DRIVE the short bus!!


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  15. #15
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    short cut

    Shorter, faster drive east on I-10 to 191, east of Wilcox and then north to 366/Swift Trail, saves an hour and I love the treats at Stouts Cider Mill in Wilcox. Unless you're going from Phoenix. Camped on the Pinalenos at least 15 times.
    Bear was in my campsight for 35 minutes last summer dogs treed it 8 times before it finally left at Snow Flat.
    agmtb

  16. #16
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    Pics

    Here are a few pics from my trip.
    Zack and Arcadia Trail.



    Cunningham Loop Trail.





    Grant Goudy Ridge trail.








    Almost lost my derailuer cog.





    This is the ridgeline.

    Lady Bug trail pics tomorrow.
    Last edited by ShortBusJames; 06-04-2010 at 12:12 AM.
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  17. #17
    Shred...it's the new drug
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    that looks str8 gnarly!!! now if we can gather 20 trail workers we'll have another clear mountain to shred!!!

  18. #18
    Tucson, AZ
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    Great pictures James. We did not run into much snow. We did do what I would call some of the hardest 14.5 miles of my life. I have not looked at the track, but I think we averaged about 2 mph during the 10k of climbing over ~80 switchbacks.

    Mt Graham has sooooo much potential. I will have some pics and ride report in a few days. I will be going back in a few weeks to do some trail work.

  19. #19
    Tucson, AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by abegold
    Ash Creek-Round the Mountain looks brutally epic. Downfall will be plentiful. HAVE FUN!
    The word brutally is an understatement. Wait til you see some of the pictures.

  20. #20
    Scott in Tucson
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    Quote Originally Posted by azepicriderandrunner
    The word brutally is an understatement. Wait til you see some of the pictures.
    A few pics from going 'round the mtn.












































    Full story here:

    https://www.topofusion.com/diary/201...mountain-2010/
    Author of TopoFusion GPS Software. MTB+backpacking = bikepacking.net. Ride Diary.

  21. #21
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    More Pics.

    The view from Ladybug Trail.

    Ladybugs on the peak.

    Two more trails becon exploration.

    Looking up and down from the sign - Sweet Seldom Shredded Singletrack!


    View from the trail

    Geocache found at the Turkey Flat turnoff.


    Flowers on the trail.





    @ azepicr&r - Glad you enjoyed your trip to Mt. Graham. I have always wondered about Round the Mountain Trail. That is the one you rode, right?.
    I agree with the potential of Mt. Graham. It just needs more riders to ride the trails. I guess it is not close enough to Phx, and Mt. Lemmon is too close to Tucson.
    I think that Mt. Graham is one of those special places. Once you go there, it seems to call you back.
    Now I DRIVE the short bus!!


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  22. #22
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    Any mountain with over 7000 ft of vertical relief is awesome in my book. All of the sky islands seem like they would have so much potential for this fact alone. I know that many of them are remote and hard to access but those mountains are far more impressive to me than anything else we have in this state.

    The biodiversity and the history the sky islands possess is amazing as well. The isolation of the individual sky islands, with large stretches of desert between each sky island, create specific species to each mountain range. From the floor of a skyisland, up to the peak you go through every major ecosystem besides rainforest.

    The native americans survived off these mountains over 10,000 years ago as well. While constructing observatories many artifacts were discovered in the sky islands. IThe native americans would live at the top of the sky islands in the summer, and migrate lower as the winter onset.

    One sad part about the sky islands, is the massive amount of destruction that is happening in some of the ranges due to illegal immigration. Border fences are not present in the mountainous regions, because it was originally thought the trek was too difficult to make. However more and more UDAs are making the trip through the chiricahuas and are trashing the border while doing so.

    The san pedro river, which is the last flowing undammed stream in all of Arizona, is also the northern most migration pattern for many tropical birds, and home to over 150 bird species depending on the time of the year. This area is also severely threatened by the stress and trash that illegal immigration causes.

    The amount of history, the greatness of the vistas, and the diversity of the biology and ecology are all amazing to me, and what keeps calling me back. I'd be really interested in exploring more of the trails in the sky island ranges , or simply learning more about what they offer... Anyone know where to dig?

  23. #23
    Tucson, AZ
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    More pictures:







































  24. #24
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    Whoa! Awesome pics. I took a hike in Ash Creek and can't really imagine trying to ride a bike through there but maybe the trail has improved since I was there. The road up is certainly scenic especially when the Aspens are changing in the fall.

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