Black Canyon Trail, AZ Bikepacking
Updated: Nov 29, 2020
We decided to get out and do some bikepacking. I've ridden multiple day rides, but always with a truck in support. I had been spoiled. It was time to see what living off the bike was like and sort out my setup.
We decided to take our time doing a trail that, if in a hurry, could be done in 1 day. We parked the truck in Mayer after dropping my car near Rock Springs in Black Canyon City.
We decided that getting away from the highway and finding a nice camp spot was the only order of business for the time left until dark.
This first section of the BCT is fantastic. Flowing, smooth and basically empty! I assumed that this section would be less used and maybe less improved. I was wrong. Every turn was made with a mountain bike in mind. Even with all of the gear on our bikes. They rode great. I think we were both impressed at how little the extra gear and weight impacted the riding.
Not a bad little camp on the BCT. It was a cold night, but not so cold as to be miserable. Just cold enough to really want a nice little fire!
The next day we got up at an extremely lazy hour. After coffee and breakfast it was time to start cruising. Here is the first water stop along the way.
The water was sufficiently clean for "pumping" if you have a filter. This was so early in the days ride that we just kept on cruising.
We were yelling back and forth as we rode about how awesome this section was. Something about morning air, winding flowing trail and flowers everywhere. It did not suck.
Lots of little shelf sections and occasional tight turns. As soon as you build a lot of speed, be careful, there are some turns that it would hurt to blow!
So many flowing turns.
This little guy was hanging out one moment and completely disappeared the next. Quite fast! What is it? http://www.reptilesofaz.org/Snakes-Subpages/h-s-grahamiae.html
Everything was in various states of bloom.
We stopped at Bumble Bee/Crown King road. Another stock tank for both cattle and wild game.
So many different blooms.
The terrain changes quite a bit as you descend. The temperatures ascend with every mile too!
Cactus can grow in the strangest of places.
Good ol Frank Burns "Bland Mine." No, I have no idea who he is.
We decided to turn around.
Water, shade? Time for a quick side trip for a break.
Sure, it's too early for lunch, but that didn't stop me from eating my first lunch...
Time to hit the trail again.
So many switchbacks. The great news is that since this trail was built by mountain bikers they are all ridable. I didn't say easily, but any that I put a foot down on, I knew it was because I failed. Not the trail. haha.
We stopped at Black Canyon and pumped water. It was in the 80's at this elevation so I was running low on water. It's nice to be able to refill no matter where you are. You can see the trail switching it's way back up the side of the canyon.
So many great views. It's nice to take this ride easy. A head down "training" ride at full speed along here would mean I'd miss most of the views.
Lots of these along the route. Much nicer than opening and closing gates. A couple have a slat or two missing so be careful. Rusted steel can do a lot more than just cut you and there are no access roads nearby to have help show up.
We were in Saguaro territory.
Turn left at the boots if you're riding north. Right if you're heading south. ;-)
The Agua Fria river. This will do nicely for a second nights camp spot.
There were little "cotton" puffs blowing around and covering the water's surface. Thankfully allergies were no worse than normal for this time of year.
We filled up our water supply again. Jumped in. Then promptly switched to Whiskey. :-)
There were 4 or 5 of these doing some pretty good fishing next to camp. I've heard the name of them before, but I couldn't remember it.
After finding a big scorpion under a rock in one spot, we decided to move a few feet away to build a fire. (To another spot where there were surely more of them anyway) Not a bad day on the bike!
When you hear something right next to you making a lot of noise at night, it's always nice to see it's just a frog.
We listened to them croak the entire night. I tried to pretend it was a white noise machine. A very annoying white noise machine. Back on the trail. We had just a few miles of climbing to get back to the car.
In just a couple minutes you go from at the rivers edge to looking down on it pretty far. Still, when you are 1 mile into your ride, the climb is easy. In summer, after 20 miles of riding it's not quite as easy...
The last gate ramp... It was another great trip. Nice to have my bikepacking setup more dialed in. I'm ready for a longer trip!
Oh, did I forget to mention that when I posted that we'd been dealing with flats all throughout the ride a buddy saw it, texted me to see where my car was and left a 6 pack of some nice Oscar Blues Pinner under the car. I had two different people comment as we road that morning that there was "A car with some sodas or beer under it."
Yes, as silly as a breakfast cylinder was to have after that ride, it was awesomely good and cold from the night air. Thanks buddy!