Arizona Sunset Mountains and Something Unexpected

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by AZ Desert Dog, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. AZ Desert Dog

    AZ Desert Dog To Ornery To Quit

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    This day trip started out with the usual research. Google Earth, maps, history search, route/mileage check and weather. Everything looked great it was public land seemed to be access no closures listed in the search. So I set off on my 300 mile journey on a fins Saturday morning with a head full of hope and full tank of gas.

    The intended destination was the Sunset Mountains in northeastern AZ. Two mountains that straddle AZ 87 heading into Winslow. The plan was to circumnavigate both mountains both wast and west. They are really mesas that peak out at around 7000 feet around 600 or so feet above the surrounding landscape. A view from Google Earth.
    Sunset Map.jpg

    Here is the video ride report in two parts;




    #1
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  2. AZ Desert Dog

    AZ Desert Dog To Ornery To Quit

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    When I got to the gates right off AZ 87 I found them locked and a sign posted "BY ORDER OF ARIZONA STATE TRUST LAND AND AZ GAME AND FISH THIS AREA IS CLOSED". Game over....right? Nope there was a number to call for access. However, no cell service. Nope, game still not over. Further reading indicates a mile maker and a ranch office where permission can be gained. About 15 miles away. So add and hour to the trip and chop some things off the list. No worries.
    Some information about Arizona and it's multitude of government owned land. Of the roughly 114,000 square miles the state covers only 12% is private land. Approximately 12 agencies divvy up the management of the 88% remaining land. AZ State Trust Land is an entity that holds lands for a variety of reasons. This is land donated tot he state mostly by ranches. Some ranches continue to operate and reside on the property.There must be a tax advantage. Not sure I's not a tax lawyer.

    Anyhoo back to the task of getting in. I went to the mile marker and road another 12 miles onto the ranch property. Where I was greeted by about 6 barking ranch dogs. This is not a public place it's someones residence. A ranch house. In this desolate place it would be unreasonable to be met with a firearm and a bad attitude. So I got off and waited patiently with the cacophony of K-9 warning barking. About 5 minutes into it (which seemed like an hour) the ranch owner/manger came out. Wondering why I was there and what did I want. I stated my objective and he said they (AZG&F) don't like you going up there eagles are nesting. I restated that I just wanted to ride the roads around the mountains. He said I could ride the east side as long as I did not go to the top. Fair enough. Off I went with the access code.
    Ranch.jpg
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  3. AZ Desert Dog

    AZ Desert Dog To Ornery To Quit

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    It's about 11AM I am though the gate and underway. The road is more of a ranch road a rough two track and really only traveled to manage the cattle. Things are looking up. There are rocks, ledges, washes hill climbs and tight turns. The 1090 is eating it up and I am having fun. As I ride around the east mountain I can only think it would be cool to get to the top and camp. Not in the cards but the view of the mountain from below is awesome. I wish the camer was able to capture it better.
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  4. AZ Desert Dog

    AZ Desert Dog To Ornery To Quit

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    As I followed the trail which really seamed like two single tracks it was hard to keep on course with other ranch roads intersecting. I got off track a couple times but it was great riding and scenic. As I rounded the mountain and took a northerly direction I came upon Clear Creek Canyon. It was way more impressive than I had imagined from the maps and Google Earth. I stopped for a bit to take it all in. The trail from this point followed the canyon rim. Some places with in a foot. It felt a little sketchy in a couple places.
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  5. AZ Desert Dog

    AZ Desert Dog To Ornery To Quit

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    After several miles of beautiful canyon views the trail turn back towards the mountain. I kick up a few elk. It was awesome to see them take off across the plain. 20190622_122522_resized.jpg
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  6. AZ Desert Dog

    AZ Desert Dog To Ornery To Quit

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    I was a little disappointed when the trail turned further away from the mountain stretching out into the flatter lands. Then, as I rode over a small rise I saw something unexpected. Nothing I read or saw on Google Earth indicated it. An abandoned ranch in the distance. I love historic sites. This made all the effort of the morning worth it. I just hoped there was open access to it.\
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  7. AZ Desert Dog

    AZ Desert Dog To Ornery To Quit

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    As I entered the gate the first structure to greet me were the ruins of the barn. Structures in this condition always get me wondering. What it looked like while standing? What caused it's demise? Who worked here? Very few artifacts were left. just some 1"X10"s with hardware attached like hinges and chicken wire. Evidence of stock pens or maybe a tack shop.

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  8. AZ Desert Dog

    AZ Desert Dog To Ornery To Quit

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    Next up was a cistern and a tank. Apparently a tank was added and the overflow from the tank spilled into the cistern. I think the rock cistern predated the tank. I am guessing there was a windmill but the grass and chaparral was a little dense and I wasn't in the mood for a snake bite.
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    Attached Files:

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  9. BruceWA

    BruceWA Been here awhile

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    I'm in, keep the reports coming!!
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  10. AZ Desert Dog

    AZ Desert Dog To Ornery To Quit

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    Near the barn and cistern was a tool shed with a small addition. The deeply weathered wood and rusty hardware gets you imagination going with what projects started here? How many generations work from this shed? How many elk hung outside after the seasons hunt?
    20190622_125330_resized.jpg
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  11. AZ Desert Dog

    AZ Desert Dog To Ornery To Quit

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    It was a fair bit of a walk to the ranch house. Built of much more appealing and larger red stone. This had to be someones house. It was situated just over the canyon. You could see evidence of water collection and possibly a small garden. You could see over the years it was relegated to a hunting shack or a camp for herding. Walking around I wondered how a family could live in a one room house that was maybe 400 square feet. Then again I'm pretty sure Mc Mansions hadn't been invented yet. The remains of a defunct generator inside and some disused solar panels are attached to the house now. Not a lot left here either. I did find what looked like part of a Model T hood. Maybe not.
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  12. AZ Desert Dog

    AZ Desert Dog To Ornery To Quit

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    Time to get back on the bike and get on the trail.
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  13. AZ Desert Dog

    AZ Desert Dog To Ornery To Quit

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    The trail continued to circle the mountain and had varying levels of trail condition. It wandered closer and farther from the mountains the whole way.
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  14. AZ Desert Dog

    AZ Desert Dog To Ornery To Quit

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    At some points farther away from the mountain looking east there was total isolation. you can see for tens of miles and nothing in sight. Visibility here is about 30 miles or more. It kind of puts your existence into perceptive.
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  15. Effendi

    Effendi Been here awhile

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    Thanks!:-)
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  16. AZ Desert Dog

    AZ Desert Dog To Ornery To Quit

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    On my way out I was met by my biggest fan. From here it was about another 20 miles to the road. If you liked this ride report and want to see more it will be posted on my YouTube channel in a couple of weeks. youtube.com/azdesertdog
    Thanks for checking out this ride report.
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    #16