Our spot for the next couple weeks is up on the Mogollon Rim in Arizona, east of Payson. We rode here our first year full timing but that was five years ago! The Rim is amazing with pine, fire, oak, and maple forests, dramatic cliffside views, lakes, hikes, gravel roads and dark skies. This is high country – our spot is at 7500′.
Our first ride was supposed to be the Cabin Loop but were thwarted by downed trees on a section of the loop. The Cabin Loop Trail System is the link between the earliest fire guard cabin network in this area of the Mogollon Rim and has its roots in the beginning of the Forest Service era here. We started on the Barbershop Trail (named for a sheepherder), which immediately dropped down into beautiful forest. This trail is probably really only used for hiking because there are a lot of sections where the trail is just giant boulders on steep slopes that aren’t rideable. With some maintenance the trail would be amazing as a ride, but I can’t recommend it as it is.
We took a gravel road over to U-Bar Trail to bypass all the downed trees on Houston Brothers Trail. Leary after all the hike a bike sections on the Barbershop Trail, we were disheartened to find the same on the first few miles of U-Bar. I mean, the first downhill was all fun and then we crossed the canyon and had to hike up the opposite side, dropped down the next canyon and had to again hike up the next side. It is gorgeous out there though!
The finish almost made you forget all the walking we did. This section was quite fun and weaved around while still being challenging. After we stopped at Dane Spring and checked out…the spring, it was just a couple miles of fast pedaling through the forest to get back to the start.