All of a sudden I had been noticing long rides posted on Strava for a place called Gold Canyon. I had done quite a bit of mountain biking out of Picketpost (which can be found just a few miles to the south) but had never realized I had driven right by a place called Gold Canyon (not real observant as there are signs for the town of Gold Canyon right on Highway 60).
When I suggested trying some of the Gold Canyon trails to a buddy of mine (from northern California) he said we had better get a good map … or we would surely get lost!
Well … get lost I did! And what pleasure I had getting lost!
I had obtained a GPX track from a post made on Strava by a fellow named Bryan Forrest. I used Bryan’s track to find the trailhead he used and as a guide to the trails in the Gold Canyon area.
Once out in the area I was overwhelmed with the number of trail choices. I was real glad I had my Garmin 800 Edge to keep track of the trails I had already biked because my feeble mind would have been overloaded.
A majority of the trails were posted with a nice little wooden sign and were less than a half mile long. Many dropped abruptly into washes and climbed out the opposite side. Some were constructed to pass over different natural obstacles.
I biked the following trails (and most likely more) … Kiki, Tech Loop, Granite Ridge, Mohave, Transition, Diamond Back, Old Horse, Vortex, 2QR, Outer Limits, ID, Don’t Fence Me In, Lost Goldmine, Coyote, LGM, TD, Jodi’s Dream, Secret, Snowbird, Sidewinder, K Trail.
I came up over the lip of a wash and found myself face-to-face with a bull whose dagger shaped horns jutted at least two feet over than sides of the trail! I tried standing tall and faked as if I was coming at him but he didn’t budge. I tried yelling, “Get along little doggie, hee-yah!” but got no movement.
I finally skirted around in a semicircle,staying a good twenty feet away … thankful I had not donned a red jersey that day!
Near the eastern end of the canyon I came across 2 gentlemen hiking the Lost Goldmine Trail. They informed me if I kept going I could reach the Peralta Trailhead … which I later did.
The also pointed out the Wave Cave up amongst the cliffs. They told me I would need to hike (the cave was in a Wilderness area), about thirty minutes to reach the cave using the trail … which I later did.
Then they informed me they were the mountain bike trail builders. I thanked them and rode off. Later I wished I would have been smart enough to get their photo and names!
On the way to Peralta I involuntarily slammed on the brakes and slid to a stop. The yellow wildflowers were shocking! I took several photos … unable to capture the true beauty of Gold Canyon.
While at Peralta I switched my front and rear brake pads as the rears reminded me of those Howler Monkeys at the zoo.
When I returned to the Wave Cave Trailhead I had quite a time finding enough brush to stash my bike. Every time I thought I had found a great hiding spot I went out onto the trail and could easily spot the shinning parts. Finally I laid it on its side and slid it under the bottom of a bush.
While hiking to the cave I got on the wrong trail which led me up the side of a cliff and petered out! If I was smart (I have never made this claim) I would have hiked back down and found the correct trail. But, I decided to do a whole bunch of boulder scrambling and bushwhacking to no avail and ended up descending back down to the correct trail. Once on that trail I made the Wave Cave in 20 minutes.
Once I had reached the cave I was glad I had made the hike. My photos can explain the Wave Cave moniker.
In the back of the cave the dripping water attracted thousands of bees … their sound making the whole place hum.
Upon my return I found out how I had taken the incorrect trail. When the trail split the left branch was in the shade of a thick bush. Someone had put a line of small rocks across the right branch which I must have stridden over thinking it a water bar. I gathered up some rocks from the side of the trail and made a big arrow pointing left. Heck, missing the trail had cost me at least a half hour of biking!
Once I found my bike I hit what became my two favorite Gold Canyon trails … Transition and TD.
These are the type trails I prefer … long swooping turns, slightly downhill, natural rock features.
A couple times I got going too fast and missed a sharp turn. Once I shot into a field kicking up cholla cactus which latched onto my lower legs … several spines embedded in my flesh and feeling like hot pokers! I have found the best water to remove them is to get two sticks … slide them along my skin behind the cholla branch, and lift the cholla branch off. The sticks must be quite strong as the barbed tines do not want to let go of human skin without a fight!
I found many of the other trails fun to ride, but I do have one recommendation for the architect. I wish the trail builder had not made so many tight radius turns. At times I felt like I was riding my bike around the car in my driveway. The trails I rode the next day (Brown’s Mountain in Scottsdale, AZ) were constructed with longer turns and allowed for more speed.
A positive for the Gold Canyon trail builders was the extent of which they used the rock formations in the area. I truly enjoyed the Tech Loop, the Minnie Moab section, and various other challenges. The trails at Brown’s Mountain seemed the wind through the rock sections (instead of over), seldom offering a challenge for a more advanced rider.
As the sun’s rays began to reflect orange shades from sand and rock I knew I had better start working my way west … toward my truck. I think I could have jumped onto one of the doubletracks angling toward the sun but chose to hit as many of the looping singletracks as possible.
On my convoluted route back to the truck I once again braked for more of Mother Nature … a cholla cactus bearing fruit? Yes, I had never realized what they produced (other than pin cushion legs)!
At one point I came across “Hell Rocket” Brett and Chase (aka The White Lion). These fellas were locals and we’re full of energy and having a good time. We discussed how special the Gold Canyon area was. They wished they had met the trail makers to thank them for such a special area. “Almost every time we come out here they have built a new trail,'” Hell Rocket said, “This is like our own little trail system,” added the White Lion.
A fun trail system … yes, I agree. Little? I am not so sure. I rode 30 miles and I figure I hit a little over half the trails!