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Choosing Great Land for Mountain Biking and Camping

One of the great advantages of any sport is being able to do it anywhere. Not literally, of course. But if your sport fits a wide variety of landscapes, roads, and trails, then you have chosen well.

For instance, the sport of hiking needs trails in dense forests or gnarly chaparral. This may cause you to overlap with people you don't want to be around, especially if you are a dog-lover. But in short grasslands, ponderosa forests, and most deserts you can get off the trail.

Mountain biking benefits from the right topography, but it doesn't really need official trails. (This post is about mountain bikes that you pedal.) Many parts of the country are criss-crossed with dirt roads that are great fun to mountain bike on. It's true that the motorsport crowd will be on those roads on summer holiday weekends. Sometimes there will be more traffic than you want even on Saturdays. But by Sunday noon, the weekend warriors will decamp for the long drive back to the metropolitan hell-hole.

Years ago I learned to ignore official mountain bike trails. They were misnomers. They were actually just pre-existing hiking trails, and were far too steep and rough even for a fully-suspended mountain bike. But I've started to use real trails more, the last couple years. Sometimes it is a pleasant surprise to find trails that must have been designed/built by people who have actually ridden a mountain bike.

I'm in one of those areas now, the White Mountains and the Mogollon Rim, from Show Low AZ to Alpine AZ.  It is under-rated and probably always will be. Because it is so high, 6500--9000 feet, it is the icebox of Arizona. Because it is flattish, its scenery is insufficiently postcardish for the mass tourist, the average RVer, and most hikers. But their loss is the mountain bikers gain.

Great semi-open  ponderosa forests, lots of camping, Verizon cell coverage, and city services.

But the real treat is the White Mountain Trail System. Who is responsible for such a success? The Forest Service? Well anything is possible, I suppose.  There is also a volunteer organization, . I am looking into joining them and volunteering on trail maintenance.


Ed said…
The White Mountain Trail System looks like a real winner. I can now see you staying in that area for 4-6 months riding mountain bike and 4 months on the road bike in Yuma. Sort of, kind of tempts me to try riding again although I know I can not do it.
Well you could certainly do worse! But gee maybe I would have to change my plates to Arizona. (grin)
jevowell said…
The benefits of coming up to our place and volunteering for trail maintenance far exceed those of the Pinetop-Lakeside group.
I'm waiting until you get a Bobcat mini-bulldozer with a backhoe attachment.
Unknown said…
I checked out the Tracks web site but didn't see any mention of dogs; are they allowed on the trails?
Yes, dogs are allowed because it is national forest land. Only national parks have the absolute ban on dogs on the trail.