Antelope Peak Singletrack

It was perfect timing to follow up last week’s new AZT exploration by riding another giant chunk of new trail. This time a little further south, there’s now a ~10 mile detour to bypass the legendary (in my mind) gasline on the Antelope Peak section of the AZT. It’s with somewhat mixed emotions that I bid farewell to the hundreds of fall line hills, and also to Bloodsucker Wash, the name of which is just too fun to say and too fun to write about, just not that much fun to ride. Singletrack being singletrack, and I can’t see too many people riding the old route, except perhaps for nostalgia, or perhaps speed. More on that later.

I picked Chad up at the grocery store by his house, since his neighborhood was all but shut down by the Tucson Marathon. It seemed to be a good day to suffer out by Oracle, by the look of the thousands of folks out there pounding the pavement.

We drove on through Oracle to Tiger Mine road, starting with familiar miles of trail. Neither of us were brimming with energy. But energy spent has a way of feeding the same, and by seeing that Chad wasn’t tired, I convinced myself that I wasn’t either.

We looked to the left on the gasline, with its first ominious hill on the horizon, then kept pedaling straight onto new trail. As the trail meandered a bit, we started setting our expectations lower. Some awkward crossings and vague trail kept us on our toes. If felt slower than the gasline, for sure, but gives a much more natural feel.

Then without warning, sweeping views presented themselves. I forgot my GPS, so had no idea we had climbed so much.

Neither of us expected the miles and miles of ridgeline riding that followed.

It wasn’t long before we were both calling it a “mini-Ripsey.”

photo by Chad Brown

And it wasn’t long before the stoke factor went off the charts, and everything else in the world (including tired legs) faded away.

photo by Chad Brown

There’s nothing like laying fresh tracks on fresh singletrack. Being Arizona Trail only cranks it up a notch further.

Really? More ridgeline descending? OK… if we must!

Antelope Peak in the upper left corner

Finally the saguaros started to reappear, signalling our return to more Bloodsucker-esque elevations. The last descent to the confluence of Camp Grant and Bloodsucka washes was a brake burner, with some sections a little under-built (but still quite rideable). What this trail needs is some more bike tires on it (and feet, and hooves)! Enter the Antelope Peak Challenge.

The AZT climbs a 2 track, which we rode until we reached the old singletrack coming out of Bloodsucker. That’s it, GPS collected (by Chad) on the new route. At this point we sat down to consider our options.

  • Out and back on the singletrack – we would run out of daylight, and probably food. Not to mention energy. We had underestimated the new trail.
  • Gasline/Bloodsucker return – we would run out of legs on all the massive climbs and sand churning
  • Camp Grant Wash to Mammoth via the GET route – we would be eating at Chad’s favorite mexican restaurant in no time, pronto

No brainer. Down the happily firm wash we went, soon finding big trees and running water from Putnam spring. I was curious to see how far off route this water source now was (answer – still pretty far at ~2.5 miles).

I had forgotten what a gorgeous canyon it is. And what a spectacular way to view it all, coasting and soft pedaling a bicycle, spending hard earned elevation in such a fortuitous way.

Chad’s Tour Divide impression, special Max Morris edition

An hour on the Camino Rio, paralleling the San Pedro river, turned out to be a pleasant cycle without a single vehicle or human siting. Pleasant, notwithstanding weakening bodies. But the call of La Casita is strong.

Little did I know it was on the other end of town. Stomachs grumbling, we rolled in to order tostadas, and burritos to go.

Heaven! The burritos went down quickly — so much for eating them down the road.

It was time to pay the piper. Life can’t be all coasting down scenic washes, pleasant cycles on car-free roads and super tasty grub.

2000′ of climbing awaited us from Mammoth back to the car. It’s a busy highway and many drivers refused to use the passing lane to.. pass .. us. There are two lanes there for a reason, you know? To pass! We got off just before it got dark, thanks to a last minute La Casita fueled second wind attack by Chad. We hit the balance just right — enough food to bring us back to life, but not enough to gut bomb us for the climb. Perfect.

It was a great ride, and I can’t wait to drop the new GPX into the APC route, the AZT 300/750 route, and the GPX network. By Jan 1 there should be a 95% singletrack route from Oracle to the 300’s finish at the Picketpost trailhead, and that’s pretty exciting. It’s a good time to be a fan of the AZT. Many thanks to all those responsible for all the new trail!


Krista is back in town, and back on the road bike. With my back still injured, I have been throwing road rides into the mix, with varying results. So far it’s been hard for me to keep up with her, but then what do you expect from someone just named to the Olympic long team?

Todd is back riding strong too, rocking his orange niner.

Krista on the heavily saguaro’d AZT (by Colossal Cave).

Such a beautiful trail, but my back/hips failed me on this one, and I ended up bailing to the road to spare them.

on top of Krein

Hey you guys!!!! I caught up late with Chad, Ty, Todd and Krista… and they rode the John Krein trail! Can’t believe I missed that.

I love living so close to Tucson Mountain Park… trails are just a quick ride away, and there are so many options.

Like this little gem we’re calling Wagonwheel. Such challenge, and such views, available so quickly.

I need to make it a regular. Hopefully I can now that my back is on the mend, thanks mostly due to having the energy (at last!) to get into a solid routine of yoga, stretching and core strengthening. Or so I think.

4 comments to Antelope Peak Singletrack

  • Scott, My jaw dropped when I saw those ridges on the gasline bypass. I had not been planning to try to do the APC this year because I have little hope of being fit enough, but now I think I may have to start hitting the rollers to see what I can do about that. I also have some fond memories of that gasline, including the first time I rode it north from the Freeman Rd on a big loop without knowing it was going to be there, and getting lost, and completing the loop back up the Willow Springs road to my camper just as it got dark… I won’t mind having some classic singletrack instead though. Wow.

  • chad

    The bailout was a great option. The tostada was the greatest idea ever. Classic quote: “I may have been less prepared in my life, but not by much.”

    Another classic ride in the books.

  • RayH

    Thanks for sharing Scott…looking forward to a great APC and AZT300 ride!

  • blisterfree

    The irony being that I’ve been looking for a way *out* of Putnam Wash for the GET. I keep dreaming of some reasonable, OHV-free route, maybe employing some of the new AZT anti-gasline pro-ridgeline wonderment, but nothing jumps out at me. Other water options dubious to nil. And so Putnam it appears it shall remain!

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