Bradshaw Mountains, AZ

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,

Overview of the route. My track is the blue one.

Overview of the route. My track is the blue one.

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

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


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: