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Old 05-20-2015, 03:32 PM   #1
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Trail Hunting in the Prescott National Forest

Slowred and I have found most of the trails on the PNF MVUM, but some have proved elusive. A couple weeks ago we took an opportunity to do some trail hunting! In the week before the ride I sat down with Google Earth and tried to identify Crystal Springs Trail (aka Pipeline). Lots of eye strain got me something in the neighborhood, or so I thought...


It was a nice morning to start out just south of Mayer, AZ.



We cruised west on Pine Flat Rd to the start of the trail.



This part we can find!



But when the trail looks like this, it is harder to look around for trail markers.



I stopped a fair amount south of my first trace because this looked like it could be our trail!
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Old 05-20-2015, 03:35 PM   #2
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These pictures are from later in the afternoon when we came back through and spotted the trail marker!

There's a trail marker in this picture.


Okay, so that one wasn't easy.



How about a different angle?



Yep, that one's not easy either!



It's no wonder we hadn't noticed this trail before.



Now we know what to look for!
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Old 05-20-2015, 03:41 PM   #3
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Crystal Springs itself is no easy trail, but it is one of the nicer, milder ones in the PNF. There were a couple of these dips into mini-ravines.


Nice, narrow trail!



Another dip followed by a steep climb.



There is some heavy vegetation in this area.



And that flowing trickle of water probably has something to do with it.



A couple of washouts brought the difficulty level up a bit.



Just the way we like it!
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Old 05-20-2015, 03:58 PM   #4
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This was an interesting find. A corral made of pipe! Maybe that's where "Pipeline" came from?



It was a neat area, but it didn't make a lot of sense for a corral.



Aside from a couple of short, steep spots, this trail just gained or lost elevation at a steady, slow rate.



There were times that we were particularly thankful for that.



There were other pieces of this trail where I just couldn't get a picture.



It's hard to think about grabbing the camera when you're clinging to off-camber trail on the side of a steep slope. So you get to see the really nice sections of trail!
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Old 05-20-2015, 04:05 PM   #5
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And there are a lot of really nice sections of this trail.



It's worth riding just to see how GREEN Arizona can be.



This is one of the narrower sections of trail one of the less-steep slopes. Still it is sphincter tightening to ride.



This point ends the climb up to a saddle on the mountain.



It is also the point where the exposure switches from mainly on the right to mainly on the left.



And it is where we think the trail should be renamed to, "The Cliffs of Death!"
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Old 05-20-2015, 04:13 PM   #6
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I said something like, "If this hillside were any steeper we'd be riding on a cliff!"



Slowred responded, "I hate to tell you this... we ARE on a cliff!"



We both had a tendency to ride way to the right, away from the edge! Sometimes that's worse as you start leaning out.



The cacti will keep you inline!



You can see the other peak that makes up the saddle in this picture.



And if riding on the edge of a very steep drop-off doesn't get you excited, try it on loose baseball sized rocks!
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Old 05-20-2015, 04:20 PM   #7
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No wonder we had a hard time finding this trail. It's hardly visible when you're on it!



Here's a good indication of how steep the cross-hill is on this trail.



This is one of a couple of rock retaining walls we rode across.



I asked Slowred to lean over so I could get a picture of that cool flowering cactus behind him. He was reluctant.
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Old 05-20-2015, 04:29 PM   #8
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The trail namesake Crystal Spring is at the apex of the next major turn in the trail. And it is a major turn! The trail drops off very steeply and a couple of embedded rocks reduced my desire to hit the 90-degree corner at the bottom of the hill.



Slowred made a good effort.



But still had to manhandle the bike to line up with the trail again.



I walked mine rather than risk the endo/highside.



This is obviously a very active spring!



This valley must also be a watershed for some portion of Big Bug Mesa. There was evidence of very high water flows through here.
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Old 05-20-2015, 04:42 PM   #9
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Shortly after the break at the spring we ran into this hill. I think the good line is to the left. I went straight.



Slowred got up the hill much cleaner.



But neither is a good setup for this part.



The trail crossed over this little creek several times. My bike got caught on the far side of this crossing when the front fork wedged up against a rock and the footpeg folded up and then snapped back down on the other side of the big tree root sticking out. It was completely locked up. Somehow I managed to lift and push enough to get it free again. Next time: wheelie turn!



If you look really close, you can just make out the narrow trail behind Slowred. This is a fun trail!



And it has some amazing scenery.
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Old 05-20-2015, 04:57 PM   #10
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There were a few of these big, broken off tree trunks among the newer growth in this area. There wasn't a lot of evidence of fire, so it makes me wonder what happened to these old trees. Wind, maybe?



A few times this trail barely felt like Arizona anymore.



But the short, steep drops and rocky sections bring you back to reality pretty quick!



AZ riding?



Crystal Springs Trail officially ends at Trail 86, Watson Spring, but we popped out into this well developed campsite a little off that road.



And then we had a choice to make. Hint: It's not the right!
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Old 05-20-2015, 05:03 PM   #11
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Here's a view of Crystal Springs Trail from Watson Spring Rd (Trail 86). No wonder we couldn't find it!



It was still early enough in the day that we hit Pine Flat Rd. and headed west to get on Pine Creek Trail.



This is one of our favorites. Nice and narrow.



With the occasional technical obstacle.



This one is actually not as bad as it looks. But it looks a lot worse in person.



This trail always involves a bit of trail hunting for me too. There are significant errors between the map and the trail that exists on the ground.
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Old 05-20-2015, 05:22 PM   #12
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A trail called, "Dolphin" is supposed to intersect Pine Creek about here. I think a more exhaustive search is in order because we didn't find it.



There are a couple more tree trunks broken off up high in this shot. The wind must really whip through these canyons.



At this point the MVUM shows the trail going generally north (direction of view here).



But the trail on the ground takes a hard left. That's the way it has always gone, so that's the way we went!



I'm always so glad I wasn't on this trail when this happened!



When we topped out on Big Bug Mesa the skies were starting to look a little threatening in the distance. We almost started making our way back, but what fun would that be? Dolphin trail was calling!
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Old 05-20-2015, 05:41 PM   #13
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I didn't get a single shot of Dolphin. It starts off rocky and relatively flat and then turns into a steep, straight bobsled chute full of gravelly rock. If you take the correct turns you come out on Senator Hwy. From there it's a quick run back to a road with multiple names. I call it Dandrea Road since it goes right past the old Dandrea Ranch. It's a nice road, but I tend to start looking at the scenery more.

Oooh! Check out the Manzanita blossoms!



Initially we passed this guy and his 4x4 on the side of the trail. We thought he might be getting ready to camp or just taking a break, but after talking about it for a minute we went back to see if he needed help or for us to relay a message. It turned out he had a broken shock bolt! We quickly identified a candidate bolt holding his hi-lift jack on the winch bumper.



Close enough! The bolt worked and we parted ways.



We made our way up onto Big Bug Mesa again and headed out to the east end where I have been meaning to get a good picture of this giant tree!



It's not that tall, but the trunk is massive!
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Old 05-20-2015, 05:45 PM   #14
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The east end of Big Bug Mesa is also home to the Little Wolf Creek trail. We usually come up this switchback-fest of a trail. Going down would provide a new perspective!



Slowred series down the upper part of the trail.












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Old 05-20-2015, 05:53 PM   #15
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The same obstacles that are tough on the way up also provide some challenge on the way down.



And this trail is STEEP!



It is so steep that we agreed, if we came down this trail the first time, we probably never would have attempted it going up!



I know Slowred's limited braking with the trials tire made it extra exciting!



The view is really the reward on this trail.



On the way down, we took a trail we knew was on the ground. We have been making the assumption that it was another map error, but I think this picture shows the subject of our next trail hunting expedition! The official Little Wolf trail (different from Little Wolf Creek) should run up the hill to the right and I'm pretty sure I see it!
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