Connecting to Martinez is the the hidden gem to this side of the river. Since the Gila Canyons AZT section has been completed, this area is often overlooked in favor of a point-to-point, shuttled ride. This is also one reason why the Gila River area is one of the best places to bikepack in Arizona...the options are endless.
As we got down to the river, we took the double track to connect with the Arizona Trail at Gila Canyons.
After about 30 minutes, we took the turn to go up to Walnut Springs and saw Hermosa Tours out doing their thing. We chatted for a bit and asked about their operation. They even let us top off our bladders for the steep climbing to the gusher.
Max pushing his bike up one of the steeper sections to the spring. This route is worth the view and water, but is a steep climb.
Water in the desert, it is a beautiful thing when it is in this form.
We rested at the spring for about 30 minutes, enjoying the cliffs and drinking our flavored sports drinks.
Stunning cliffs are the reward for the detour and HAB
As I mentioned earlier, heading to the artesian spring is not the easiest way to get water. After topping off our bladders, we took a wash, hiking for about 30 minutes. I would recommend this route for anyone that has already seen the typical AZ Trail from Picketpost to Kelvin, along with Ripsey and is in need of a change of scenery. That said, if you have never seen the area, it is a must-do.
Back on the AZ Trail, we tried to beat the heat.
We got to the train bridge before the last ascent up the AZT and decided to take a nap in the shade. Five minutes turned into 30 minutes; actually, an hour probably. The birds were singing and the small rapids of the Gila River were drowning away all our worries about the heat.
It is easy to see why we typically ride this route in late March, early April....great views, stunning wildflowers (although this year was mediocre).
There was only 1/2 gallon at the Kelvin water cache. We used it all up, before pressing on to Ripsey.