Monolith Gardens … Biking Through Incredible Rock Formations
Very few people had even heard of Monolith Gardens, much less suggest I ride there. As a matter of fact, I had a hard time getting information about any possible rides in the Kingman area. Less than 10 people had posts in the MTBR forums. I found no posted photos, one map (which I had a hard time reading), and no GPX tracks.
I wanted to get to Kingman in time to visit Bicycle World (a shop with many forum kudos) in order to get some trail advice. However, trying to get the girls (Wife-Cindy and Daughter-Kayley) up and going on a Saturday morning proved to be too difficult to overcome.
So we rolled into Kingman about 5:30, 1 1/2 hours after the shop closed. I still drove to the shop, hoping to catch someone working overtime or at least learn about their hours for a Sunday morning. No one was there. No hours were posted.
After only getting Cycle World’s phone recording Sunday morning I decided to just go down to the Chevron Station on Beale Street and see what I could find. The forums said to take the dirt road behind the gas station. Surprisingly, the Monolith Gardens Trailhead was easy to locate (I usually don’t have such luck).
The kiosk said the entire area was called the Cerbat Hills. A distance runner I met at the trailhead suggested I start with the Monolith Gardens Trail (which I did) and ride the area counterclockwise. He said if I kept making left turns I would end up on the Foothill Rim Trail, which would eventually run into the Monolith Gardens Trail again.
Fortunately, none of the left turns led me out of the area. This approach gave me the largest loop I could make with the trails available. While on this loop I made a couple of small side trips to check out two other trailheads.
INTERACTIVE MAP FOR MONOLITH GARDENS
- Click the blue “P” for driving directions to the trailhead.
- Click Tracks or Icons for More Specific Information.
Robert and Laurie
While checking out the 3rd trailhead on Highway 93 I met a guy named Robert. He told me how he used to scuba dive for the navy and worked in the Bering Sea unhooking fishing nets from the ocean floor.
Despite having a beautiful 5th wheel parked in the adjacent camping area he and his wife (Laurie) had spent the night in a hole that had been blasted into a cliff face … just to see how the ancients might have felt!
When Laurie arrived with some groceries I learned she had experienced a broken neck (see Crash to read about mine). She was hit by a drunk driver when she was 16 years old and was in a coma, lost all her memory, had to have some vertebrae fused, had to learn how to walk all over again. Her story made me feel quite lucky about my injury.
While on the Foothills Rim Trail I came across some interesting stone carvings, carvings which could only be done by Mother Nature and my first hoodoo of the day.
Monolith Garden Trail
Eventually I turned off the Foothill Rim Trail and back onto the Monolith Garden Trail. At the primo photo spot on the Monolith I met a boy and his dad (Peter and Jake).
Jake took off down the trail and Peter followed. I took a moment to turn on my contour video camera (mounted on my seat post) and soon caught up to Peter.
Peter soon pulled over and wanted me to go ahead. I told him I wanted to keep riding behind him because I was filming him. Peter was a good rider, but I had noticed he was slowing down quite a bit when cornering in the loose sand, so I gave him some pointers (see Mountain Biking Techniques ). Peter turned out to be a quick learner, for I noticed a marked improvement in his cornering as I followed him to the bottom of the hill … where Jake was waiting.
I asked Jake how he liked the single front shock (he had a Cannondale Lefty) to which he mumbled something about the rear. Jake then said he really liked the front suspension, but the back was beating him up. When I looked I noticed he had no rear shock.
“You are riding a hard tail on this trail? That is crazy!” I uttered.
Jake then explained, “I have a full suspension bike, but I loaned it to a buddy for this ride.”
“Where is your buddy,” I asked.
“Oh, he took off at the start of the ride and we haven’t seen him since.”
“So you lent him your full suspension bike so he could leave you guys in the dust? What kind of buddy does that?” I exclaimed.
Jake didn’t answer my question but went on to say, “The funny part is, I bought that bike from him a while ago, but then he had nothing to ride. So he borrowed it back!”
Jake kindly gave me some advice on which other trails to ride in the Kingman area. He said they hadn’t been riding much lately due to work, limited daylight hours, and other things. Eventually I told him and Peter to ride on as I was going to stop and get some photos of the rock formations.
I can’t believe nobody seems to know about this area! The scenery was incredible, the trails were real ride-able, and the people I met were nice. There was plenty of slickrock for those who like to play, and some real unique rock formations
The ride ended up being 14+ miles. Since the loop was not terribly strenuous (not much climbing), a 4+ mile trek back to the hotel was no problem. On the ride back (on the road) I had a chance to reflect on the day’s ride. Black Canyon Trail, 50 Year Trail, Cathedral Rock Trail … The Cerbat Hills area can rival any of these as the best in Arizona. What a pleasant surprise! But don’t tell anyone.
During most visits I take many more photos than I can place on a page. To view every image I captured … 78 photos in all, please visit my Photo Gallery Site.
The following link can give you all the stats for this ride … just click on the ride title in the box below.