We debated what bikes to ride for about half an hour and according to Derek, we chose wrong. Our ride out Forest Rd 143 to the adobe ruins at Alto was 26 miles with 3544′ of climbing.
The rocky gravel road was pretty rough in spots and though it didn’t seem excessively bad, mountain bikes sure would have been more comfortable than our gravel bikes. It’s a jeep rode that crosses from Mt Hopkins Rd over to Patagonia though we didn’t go that far. Words to describe this ride are remote, quiet, scenic, and challenging. Riding up one canyon and down into the next repeatedly, we passed all kinds of cacti, plenty of rocks, dry washes, and even a giant pack of coatimundi.
What’s that, you’ve never heard of coatimundi? We hadn’t either and weren’t sure what we had seen until we researched it. They look like skinny, longer raccoons with long tails like a monkey. There must have been at least 15 of them darting across a wash in front of us. Very cool to see.
Our turn around point was the adobe ruins at Alto. It’s a mining ghost town now, but was first settled in the early 1900’s. A post office opened in 1907 in the home of a local pioneer Josiah Bond, who was a former mining engineer, the local justice of the peace, school teacher, and poet. Josiah’s wife Minnie served as postmaster, the first female postmaster in the United States! The only ruins left are those of that original post office which closed in 1933.
The ride back made us appreciate just how far we had climbed to get out here. 4wd is definitely necessary for anyone thinking of driving this route. There are couple rutted, rocky, loose chutes. This is backcountry with no real bailout points although a few border patrol trucks passed us, and even a border patrol helicopter.