The Arizona National Scenic Trail covers 800 miles from the Arizona/Mexican border to the Arizona/Utah border.
It’s a hiking trail completed in 2011 by linking existing trails then creating new trails to fill the gaps.
History of the Arizona Trail (aztrail.org)
If some of the images are blank, refresh the page to get them all. Click on any to view the full-sized version.
Off road cyclists are allowed on most of the trail, with a few exceptions that detour them around the more sensitive wilderness areas.
I joined my group of adventure friends to ride the section from Flagstaff to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. About 100+ miles.
We made arrangements with a tour company to haul our food, water and kitchen.
After a challenging day of biking on a hiking trail (not easy, folks!) it was such a treat to roll into a pre-established camp.
We cracked cold beers and cooked hot meals. Such fun.
Here’s the rest of the story:
First, we needed to get to the starting point.
Ever been to Flagstaff? It’s escaped my radar but now find it most interesting. At 7000 ft elevation, it’s among the highest cities in the continental U.S.
Just north of town is massive Humphreys Peak at 12,633 ft. The Arizona Snow Bowl is up there with some great local skiing as I’ve been told.
There was an instant fracture between those who would drive, and those who would take the train.
Russ, Alan and I opted for an overnight sleeping car on Amtrak.
That’s my bike in the box, complete with some custom decoration. The bike-touring grapevine says that it brings good luck.
After 12 hours on the train, mostly spent snoozing, we arrived at the little Flagstaff station at 7am bleary eyed. Time to get our bikes ready. We have one day to prep before we start on the trail.
Wandering around, looking around. Rolling along to find our hotel. After a day in town, I decided I like Flagstaff.
The next day, we hit the trail. Easy going to start, but that was about to change.
The trail turns from gravel road to single track. We’re now pushing our bikes often when it’s too rocky to ride. Photo by Ed Wallach.
After we made sure Ed was in good hands, we continued. Eventually the trail smoothed. Less big rocks. More riding. Then all riding. Finally!
Chasing Thomas was my the view for the final hours and miles of day one. The sun was low, and we had been on our bikes for nearly 10 hours.
Cold-Beer fever was starting to get us, and we raced that dirt ribbon as fast as we could!
At 7pm we emerged into a clearing and whoo-hoo!, we could see our camp and the rest of our group.
As we rode in, we heard cheers from all around. Alan quickly passed out beers.
I remember asking someone if they had heard from Ed.
“He’s on his way to camp. Alex took the van back to Flagstaff (again!) to snag him from the ER. He’ll be with us for the rest of the trip!”
Another round of cheers. Amazing! Ed and Alex arrived about an hour later with high-fives all around.
The rest of the evening was a celebration over a great dinner and stories of the trail.
What a blissfully lucky day.
Stay tuned for Part 2: The vast landscapes of northern Arizona.
Comments are encouraged, you can do so below. The comment password is: life is good