Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Dragoons Day 2

After the first day of riding out of Tombstone, we slowly had breakfast and coffee. It was a very, very slow morning. I think we finally left around 8am. 

This time of year (January, lows are in the 20s-30s) does not see a lot of camping. I think we spotted 3 trailers/campers on the way to Slavin Gulch Trail. 

Using the GPX file from Sky Island Traverse, we tried to find a connection of Slavin Gulch Trail. This trail would have allowed us to not use Slavin as an out-n-back. Needless to say, it did not work so we turned around and continued on the singletrack that splits of Slavin Gulch at the beginning.

This section of the trail is beautiful. This is where you might see another cyclist in the fall/spring time. During January though, we only saw 6 hikers during the entire trip and no mountain bikers.

After some exploring, we found a trail that veers from paralleling FR 687 and heads directly toward Council Rocks. You go through the green gate and around some fun, technical trails to arrive at the petroglphys and metates.

We explored some of the singletrack in this area and realized that you can ride directly from the Council Rocks to FR 688 on singletrack. I will have both options in the GPS file when I post it.

The dirt road FR 688 (shown below) will take you to the Trail #279, but the other option would be to do an out-n-back to the Butterfield Stage Station (mentioned earlier). Due to time constraints, we headed directly to Trail #279 and toward Cochise Stronghold.

Not a bad dirt road given the views

Commence hike-a-bike.........NOW!

We pushed up some of the switch back sections. I would have liked to blame it on the pack, but I am also a little out of shape.

Later on, we opted for a scouting trip to Middlemarch Trail #277. What started out great became a HAB, probably about 40-45 minutes of pushing up a steep, eroded section of singletrack. We eventually popped out at Canal Spring (shown above) and FR 4388.

Given time constraints, we had to NOT ride up toward Cochise Peak and down Slavin Gulch Trail #332 (that is the same one we did an out-n-back on). Given this write-up that I had read before, it seemed that the trail might be even more HAB.

A pretty place to ride.

Back to Tombstone for some beer and food. 

We did find and alternate route instead of taking the highway. But honestly, I would start in the city of Dragoon next time like I mentioned. Tombstone is overwhelming and too far of a drive from Tucson.

The stats:
49 miles
5600 feet of climbing
7.18 hours of moving time

Click here to see the GPX file from this loop. It is NOT cleaned up yet. I would recommend that you DO NOT do Middlemarch Trail and just continue on toward Cochise Stronghold #279.

How to get to the Dragoons:

Take I-10 East to the first Benson exit, stay on that road and head toward Tombstone, shortly before reaching Tombstone take a left on Middlemarch Road, which is a good dirt road and go approximately 8-miles to a “Y” at forest service road 687 where you will go left and park. It is around 11-miles from this point to the end of the road. If you want to make the ride shorter, drive farther up 687 and park.

How to get to Tombstone:

Take I-10 East to the first Benson exit, stay on that road and head toward Tombstone. You can park anywhere off the main drag that allows public parking. We parked on 4th.

The Dragoons Day 1

The simple requisite of new and close meant that the Dragoons were the place to start. Researching the area got me on Google. Of course, Scott and Lee were one of the first to explore the newer sections of this area; their trip report is here. Also, I found these two articles that help me nail down a route that was focused on the Dragoons.

The plan was to do the some of the classic 30ish mile outer loop of Dragoons, while searching for some new trail to link the Council Rocks and possible addition of a figure 8 for future use (that would use either Cochise Trail or Middlemarch Tr, possibly even Slavin #279 from east to west from FR 4388

With the route, we set off from Tombstone a little later than expected due to a delay on I-10. Our plan was to camp below the on any of the campgrounds between FR 687A and FR866.

 As we left town, two different people warned us of the "people" that are over in the dragoons. Classic. I love how the locals in this town think.

The first lady said "to make sure to have a gun because of the immigrants" and the second gentleman said to "watch out for the crazies."  We brushed off both saying that we familiar with camping in southern Arizona.

 While riding out to the camp spot, we probably got passed by 5-7 vehicles on Middlemarch Rd. Given the size of this dirt road, every car was not very friendly and blazed by us. If I were to do this route again, I would start up at city of Dragoon and stop by the Butterfiled Stage Station (see PDF here). The other plan, I would take the gas line road that that Simplissity did during his traverse. On the way back into town on Day 2, we did find a way to bypass the highway section of this route.

We got to the campsite, had some beverages and went to bed eagerly waiting for the singletrack on Day 2.


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