Last weekend while everyone else went on big rides on little bikes, Reidy008 and I decided to have a little ride on big bikes. First stop was Needle Rock Park on the Verde River, just north of Fountain Hills. Verde River looking south To see Needle Rock(s), you gotta go past the nice little picnic area to the big gravel lot. This is where the peeps go in the summer to splash around in the water. Looking north From this parking area, a wash signed FR413 takes off northwest. If you dont like sand riding, this is not the place for you. There was also more traffic on this trail than expected, so watch for oncoming quads, bikes and jeeps. A couple miles in, we stopped to talk to a patrolling ranger. He was a really nice guy and gave us the skinny on some of the area trails. The first of which peeled off the 413 and headed into a bit of a slot type canyon too narrow for a side by side, but ok for a quad and fun on a bike. FR404 takes off from FR413. Our ranger friend assured us this trail was open to motorized. Subsequent signage warns of narrow canyons ahead, and shows off limits to motorized. We figured the ranger wouldnt steer us wrong, so we went on. Looking back down the wash from where we came. He gave us his card, which we decided to treat as a Get out of jail free card. Luckily, we didnt have to test it. The trail ahead. Lots of deep sand. This is a lot of work! I keep hoping Reidy will surrender even though I know better. Worse still, he likes it! Into the Pinch now. Here comes Reidy008 on the big girl. The sand wasnt as loose in here, which was good. Every now and then Id get a little too close to a wall trying to keep the momentum up. Reidy is grinning inside his helmet. This narrow spot is probably ¼ to ½ mile long or so. Really fun to ride through. After the slot, time to peel off some layers as this is becoming more of a work out and we have a ways to go. There was one gnarly uphill and two BIG downhills to deal with. At the top of the first hill, we talked to some quad riders who frequent the area. They said the trail ahead was too rocky for them and thus had never ventured any further than this hill. We decided to see if they were studley adventurers or sand weenies. Our first impression was the trail was easy, not that many rocks, the quad guys were sand weenies. As I slid down the second big downhill toward the baby head rocked landing area with a corner in the middle of it, I thought maybe we had been quick to judge. Reidy had to kill the big twin and ease it down the hill as best he could letting the dead engine slow him down. I shoulda made a video of that, but I decided to stay out of the way at the bottom of the hill instead! Anyway, we made it down unscathed but Im damn glad we didnt have to try to go up that sucker. Just behind Reidy is the corner you slide into and the hill was up to the right side. And back into the sand. At the bottom of the big hill, FR388 intersects. To the south, we could hook back into the 413, and to the north should hook up to Bartlett Dam Road. Northbound. We got to Bartlett Dam Road, and wanted to look for the old trail that is soon to be re-opened that will connect up to Devils Hole. Our ranger friend had told us that this will soon re-open, and the signage confirms it. FR532 is scheduled to re-open to motorized after several years of closure. (We should all thank our resident OHV guy, Jeff, who works on all this stuff in our behalf.) Opening soon! Since we couldnt take that one yet, we went on down to Bartlett Dam and explored the Riverside campground a little bit. Not much there, but it is close to the river and you get some nice views of Bartlett Dam and spillway. From there, the stomach was starting to complain from lack of food, and with the long sand workout we figured lunch at Cave Creek sounded good. Buffalo Chip Saloon to the rescue. Well have to plan an inauguration ride when 532 opens up. The signs said late winter of 2014, and its February now, so should be soon. Looking forward to it!