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Guest Post: Crown King S240 by Jay Ritchey

Guest Post: Crown King S24O by Jay Ritchey

The Bradshaw mountains were hard to ignore the first time driving North on I-17 out of PHX. Out of the sandy Black Canyon (about 2500 ft elevation) they rose to forested peaks, the tallest being Mt Union at 7,979 ft. Google Earth showed a system of forest roads and soon a 60 mile two day loop was roughly mapped out, starting and ending in Mayer (about 4500 ft). Mayer seemed like a good place to start/end in the second half of May, where Tucson is heading into the high 80’s. At that time of year Mayer is in the mid 70’s and Crown King is about 10 degrees cooler than that. The lowest and hottest point in the loop was just East of Cleator, just above 3000 ft. Fortunately the Cleator yacht club & bar made me numb to the midday heat until I was high enough up the Crown King Road to enjoy it’s 70 degrees. The old railroad grade from Cleator to Crown King rose about 2,700 feet and took me through two huge switchbacks. After the Crown King general store, it took another 1,000 feet to reach the top of the ridge to the West of Crown King. I dropped down the other side and camped out at Hooper Saddle (6,000 ft). The next day I headed North on FR52/S. Senator Hwy until FR67, where I headed East back to Mayer.

The total distance was about 63 miles, 38 miles the first day and 24 miles the second day. The total feet ascended was about 7,500. Total riding time was about 10 hours. Please look at my .gpx files below for all the route details,

The first day's GPS information can be found here: CrownKingLoopDay1.gpx

The second day's GPS information can be found here: CrownKingLoopDay2.gpx

Started off with the Black Canyon Trail.

Started off with the Black Canyon Trail.

The road into Cleator. These are the foothills of the Bradshaw mountains with Crown King up there somewhere.

The road into Cleator. These are the foothills of the Bradshaw mountains with Crown King up there somewhere.

Took a break to buy an IPA and a hot dog from some very nice folks. ATV’s, rock crawlers and Jeeps made for a dusty road up to Crown King. A handkerchief around my face, bandit style, helped cut back the irritating dust. After going through the town of Crown King the traffic dropped off almost completely.

Took a break to buy an IPA and a hot dog from some very nice folks. ATV’s, rock crawlers and Jeeps made for a dusty road up to Crown King. A handkerchief around my face, bandit style, helped cut back the irritating dust. After going through the town of Crown King the traffic dropped off almost completely.

Cleator Yacht Club

Cleator Yacht Club

The scenery ascending the Crown King Road. Originally the road was a railroad to haul gold out of the mountain. It has a mellow consistent grade throughout as well as two large switchbacks.

The scenery ascending the Crown King Road. Originally the road was a railroad to haul gold out of the mountain. It has a mellow consistent grade throughout as well as two large switchbacks.

Crown King Loop MED RES ___08.jpg
Ruins across the street from the Crown King general store.The store is stocked with water, light beer and fudge. Past Crown King the traffic drops off considerably which means much less dust :-)

Ruins across the street from the Crown King general store.The store is stocked with water, light beer and fudge. Past Crown King the traffic drops off considerably which means much less dust :-)

Climbing the last 1,000 feet to the top of the ridge.

Climbing the last 1,000 feet to the top of the ridge.

This is the view waiting on the other side of the ridge.

This is the view waiting on the other side of the ridge.

A decent down to my camping place in the valley below at Hooper Saddle.

A decent down to my camping place in the valley below at Hooper Saddle.

My digs. Tarptent Double Rainbow is a roomy lightweight shelter. 

My digs. Tarptent Double Rainbow is a roomy lightweight shelter. 

About 7 am on Day 2. Listening to an early morning Tinariwen mix as I climb out of the valley heading North on FR 52/S. Senator Hwy. Crown King is in the distance to the South of me.

About 7 am on Day 2. Listening to an early morning Tinariwen mix as I climb out of the valley heading North on FR 52/S. Senator Hwy. Crown King is in the distance to the South of me.

More of FR52/S. Senator Hwy. Very nice indeed. I’m now listening to Other Lives, another very nice early morning mix on the Outdoor Tech Buckshot - highly recommended! 

More of FR52/S. Senator Hwy. Very nice indeed. I’m now listening to Other Lives, another very nice early morning mix on the Outdoor Tech Buckshot - highly recommended! 

Artifacts from a different time.

Artifacts from a different time.

FR 67 heading back to my car in Mayer, AZ

FR 67 heading back to my car in Mayer, AZ

A request of Mike Walsh, a guy I met the day before and asked if I could park at his house for the night in Mayer, AZ. 

A request of Mike Walsh, a guy I met the day before and asked if I could park at his house for the night in Mayer, AZ. 

Mike Walsh, his wife Bertha (right) and friend welcoming me back with jokes and offers to take one of their dogs.


Mike Walsh, his wife Bertha (right) and friend welcoming me back with jokes and offers to take one of their dogs.

They have at least 20 dogs. Let me know if you want one, I have have Mike’s phone number.  

They have at least 20 dogs. Let me know if you want one, I have have Mike’s phone number.

 

Overview of the route. My track is the blue one.  The .gpx routes are below the intro parahraph. 

Overview of the route. My track is the blue one.  The .gpx routes are below the intro parahraph. 

 

Jay Ritchey grew up in Northern California.  He has been a life long bike lover as well as photographer, videographer, custom rack builder and cycling cap lover.  He has ridden his bike all over the world and will soon depart for a bike packing trip in Mongolia.  You can see some of his video work here: https://vimeo.com/user3361358