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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Since we don't have a proper "trail rides" area, Ill just post it here, and mods can move it where they like.

Anyway, last Sunday was a sweet-but-too-short ride in the Pioneer. I was in good spirits after doing some "testing" on an area of rock domes, so i set out with a smile on my face.

This area is considered high-desert, with lots of prairie grass and dense chaparral, depending on where you are. It's also a few short miles of climb from the ponderosa pine forests of Williams, AZ...known as the gateway to the Grand Canyon.

I've ridden here many times...and its my "default" riding area when time is short.

So i headed on down from the rock domes on FS159, or Government canyon road as some maps call it, cruising along on sandy two-track. I finally followed this roads to its terminus late last year, after ignoring it for some time. It was a victim of "trail prejudice", wherein i look out at an area and think there can't really be much out there. This seems to always guarantee that when i do finally follow a trail, it almost always ends up somewhere cool. This one is no exception. Not earth-shatteringly cool...but i nice little discovery...

After a few miles a turn is made, a gate is trans-versed, and you're likely to only see the odd cow for company. The trail winds its way around a tall finger of mountain, complete with exposed protrusions of rock, backstopped by a beautiful blue AZ sky on this day...

This area is littered with flagstone mines, both active and abandoned, and this trail splits after crossing a wash several times, with one heading up the north-eastern side of the canyon to an old mine.
Last time i was here, i noticed an old 40's or 50's vintage derelict car sitting below the mine...long abandoned to the desert. I stopped at the end of this branch of the ends at the old mine, and took a pic of the Pioneer sitting there all content...

As i went to get back in, i noticed something strange on the rock surface...

Usually when i find rock-art, its a little older than this.

I headed back down to the split, and took the other direction of this old, and lightly traveled trail, to my real destination: What appears to be an old home site.

One of maybe 3, in an area of a few hundred yards.
This is what i really enjoy the most. Finding something that time has forgotten. It may be that someone was here last week...i dunno...but i feel like i am the first to rediscover this piece of lost history. And that's all that really matters. You can't do this in your car from the interstate, folks!
Some day i'll bring the metal detector out here and see what i can find...

After a bit of taking it all in, i backtracked to FS354, better known as Perkinsville road ( the way i came in ). Also a part of the Great Western Trail. A short time north, i came to a side trail leading into a deeeep slot canyon to the west. I've been down there many one more won't hurt.
Hanging precariously to the sides of this canyon are what appears to be some type of poor-mans tramway, albeit, completely hidden...unless you know where to look.

Today i was just wanting to get a pic of the late-day sun off the rocks high above...

After climbing back out, i headed on up to the higher elevations, and found exactly what i expected: Snow, mud, and cold!
This here Pioneer thing always amazes me on slippery just hooks up and goes. It was raised by snow-mobiles. You can break the news to it if you want...but i don't recommend it.

I manage a few miles of travel before i remember that i moved to AZ to avoid snow, mud, and cold, so i turned back for the lower country. This area has been on my to-do list for a while, but not until this summer!
On the way up, i did notice a bunch of side trails that i had forgotten about. Taking one for about a mile, i came to a small opening and found out that i was perched atop another ridge...perhaps above the picture i snapped earlier...

Like most trails "on" the mountain, this one features large amounts of volcanic rock and soil from nearby Flagstaff's dormant volcano. This is one reason i had never ridden much up here...the miles of rock gardens killed me on my old Foreman, but the Pion rides quite nicely over this stuff, and picking my way along, i was thinking that this is where it is truly in its element.

Contradictory to the "no low range" complaints, the lack of a centrifugal clutch to worry about working too hard lets you feather the throttle with abandon, and smoothly exploit the great ground clearance. But...this trail went on and on, and time was short, so i reversed back to the main road, and added this one to my ever growing "to-do" list. Judging from its tight and rocky nature, it should be interesting to see where it goes.

The shadows were growing long, and the temps dropping quickly...yet i had one more trail on my agenda. Like many of my favorite trails, it has a truly rocky technical climb, and goes nowhere of interest to most...except for me. I'd give you the number of the trail, but despite being clearly marked by forest service signage, it doesn't appear on any map.

Just to the south of this area is the Verde river, flanked by a scenic railroad called the Verde canyon railroad. The VCRR stops at the actual "town" of Perkinsville ( falsely accused by the railroad of being a "ghost town"...or being a town, for that matter ) and returns to Clarkdale, going no farther. The tracks, however, go on for several miles until they join with the main BNSF line into Phoenix at an area called Drake.

My last trail for the day just happens to be what might have been a service road for the tracks, albeit many, many years, and many heavy rains ago. Now, only a rock-buggy would likely be able to climb out of it. Or a Pioneer.

At this point, the tracks circle around for about 300 degrees in a big loop to drop altitude with acceptable grade...

Sharp eyes will notice a rock line in the upper left corner. This is where the trail comes down. It is decently steep, off-camber in places, and has large, loose rocks, making for a good climb back out. The Pioneer hardly noticed it.
This type of section keeps the "tourist" riders/drivers out, and keeps this lightly traveled trail mostly unknown.

Someday i'll get up really early to get pics of the Arizona central railroad..the freight branch of the tourist railroad i mentioned above, that still runs to Drake early in the morning.

For now, however, i sit here in solitude with only those lonely rails. The sun is almost gone...the temps are downright chilly, and the Pioneer sits patently, awaiting its next orders to happily carry out. Nocturnal creatures begin to stir...

Out here in the desert, time doesn't matter. No cell phones. No jerk bosses. Just me and this ancient land. These moments are why i came...and why i will come back time and time again.

Hope you enjoyed!

Older post of riding in this area.

Full album.

· Registered
325 Posts
Awesome DG, Love reading your posts and seeing your riding pics! Beautiful Counry

· Registered
456 Posts
If your not and outdoor writer,you may have found another calling. Great write up and I will look forward to more of you explorations and tales.

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25 Posts
My Intentions....

DG, Just showed your PICS to the wife. Both of us are very impressed. Cant wait to get my machine and find places like this to ride ( a long way from NJ, BUT...) Being retired I got no reason to rush back home. Got a good friend on the Phoenix PD. Last time I visited I rode the Harley. This time i'll bring the Pioneer !! Again great pics and stories. Keep enjoying and sharing.


· Premium Member
263 Posts
DG, those are some AWSOME shots. That reminds me of the area we ride in Casa Grande, AZ when we go out to visit my In-Laws.
Oh, by the way, we leave in 3 weeks to go back out there !!!!!!!!!! Can't wait !!!
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