Marked green? Yes … The trail started out winding through a “spruce” forest, gradually gaining elevation while providing a nice tread surface (drawn as the short green line). Then, all of a sudden, about one-third of the way to the top … the trail rounds a bend and what do I see …? The trail has turned to s–t! (drawn in red on the map above)
To help visualize the Spruce Mountain ride or to aid in your own ride there, please enjoy this interactive, trail map. Click the icons for info on landmarks, both general and personal to this ride.
I looked at the trail in disbelief! A long and steep uphill awaited me, tread composed of loose rubble. Even when I tried to keep momentum up… my back tire would spin. Then came water bars… the size of telephone poles… spaced about 30 yards apart, sitting on top of the the “trail”. I gave it 110% (like Vince Lombardi had said), but … I still ended up walking. I bet I trudged at least a mile on my way to the top of Spruce Mountain.
While hoofing it I did get to enjoy an ever-improving view. I could occasionally see distant hills due to forest gaps caused by recent fires. Walking also gave me an appreciation for riding my bike, like … how much fun it is to travel more than one mile per hour, and … how I like the wind rushing by me, cooling my body. Even the scant downhill stretches were not a lot of fun to ride … all that rubble makes me have to work too hard just to go down a hill!
What I found at the top made it all worth it. I could not believe my eyes … another set of bathrooms! I had yet to see a trail with bathrooms at the bottom and at the top! My mother-in-law would be so excited! Seriously, the views from the top did make riding 1 1/2 miles on a bed of ball-bearings worth it.
I sat on some rocks near the base of the lookout tower… took many photos… and ate my trail mix. I gazed west toward the “Thumb”, a distinct mountain butte close to downtown Prescott which did look somewhat like our opposing digit if viewed from the correct angle. I was not at that correct angle. The Thumb was actually hard to see as it blended in with some high mountains in the background. I knew Cindy was over there somewhere as she was going to hike to the top (I later found out no one was allowed to hike to the top due to a nest of Peregrine Falcons close to the trail). To the north I had a terrific view of Prescott and the adjacent town called Prescott Valley. Lynx and Goldwater Lakes appeared below me like a sapphires set in a green background. Looking to the south I could see a big cell-phone tower, and a lot of thickly forested hills … and to the east was the more dry, flat, desert looking land toward Cottonwood (where I had done my last two rides).
The trip down the mountain started out much like the end of the upward trip. The difference was … I rode down the rubble fast enough to stay on the bike. Surfing down hills of loose rock often gives me the feeling I am not in control … which is a thrill I don’t usually like. Halfway down, the trail transformed itself into an awesome track, some of the best I have even biked (I marked that part blue on my map). Miles of twisty-turny, pine needle-covered, one-track challenged the endurance of my arms and hands.
I almost pulled a Sonny Bono (face-planted into a tree) … many were inches from the edge of the skinny track. The only stops were to occasionally rest my hands and to take pictures of Wolf Creek. I knew this fun ride was ending when the bathrooms came into view. Of course I had to go try them out and found them … clean and well maintained!!
I am not sure I have ever had more fun than those last few miles on Spruce Mountain. If only all 9.5 miles were like the bottom part. I called Cindy got the report on the “Thumb.” She came and picked me up and we headed down the Senator Highway into Prescott.
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While in Prescott I suddenly asked her to stop. I had just gotten a real good view of the “Thumb”… so I jumped out of the car and took a picture.
Then we headed east to Lynx Lake, my next ride on this trip.