Arizona Day 3 – Usery Mountain

It’s Sunday and Mark and I are driving home. We’re in Arizona between Kingman and Las Vegas and I’m writing this on Mark’s laptop. And while the Wasatch Front has been getting pounded with snow, we’re driving through sunny desert with blue skies and white, puffy clouds.

The plan for Saturday was a ride with Paul’s dental school buddies who had flown in for his 30th birthday surprise party. We talked with Tim, Mark and Tom during the party Friday night and learned that each of them had done a fair amount of mountain biking. It had rained most of the night and the weather forecast looked dicey. We kicked around several ride ideas and Saturday morning we settled on Usery Mountain Regional Park with Pass Mountain being the main trail of interest.

After picking up the rental bikes, we drove out to Usery. A hiker and park volunteer gave us some info about the trail. It sounded pretty technical, but we at least wanted to check it out. The desert scenery was fantastic with rocky soil sprinkled with scrubby brush and cacti with Pass Mountain and the stormy sky backdrop. The trail was good but “featured” waterbars every 20-50 feet and the many wash crossings were usually technical both down and up. I wasn’t getting into any kind of flow and Mark was getting frustrated too. So after 2 miles we turned back while Paul and his buddies pressed on around Pass Mountain. I have a little regret that I didn’t see the whole trail, but it was the right call as I had a blast on the trails south of Pass Mountain. The technical level went down a notch and we got into longer stretches of uninterrupted riding. We went south on the Pass Mountain trail which was some fun riding with a few semi-tricky wash crossings. Then we turned off (south) onto the Cat Peaks (east) trail for some fun downhill cruising on mostly smooth trail. Next was the Meridian and Blevins trails straight west which rolled along for a few miles to twisty Moon Rock trail with its bermed curves that I really liked. We ended up at Merkle Hills where I entertained myself with a mellow jump. Here's a trail map (PDF).

We hadn’t heard from the Paul’s group (we had cell service the whole time) so we took the Pass Mountain trail again hoping to meet them coming the other way. Sure enough we met them just after the Cat Peaks turnoff. They had a good ride and were game for more so we went down Cat Peaks (west) trail and did the short but steep climb over Cat Peak Pass then took Blevins west and did Moon Rock again but the other direction which was slightly downhill and faster. Then we back tracked to the Cat Peaks junction to complete the Pass Mountain trail for Paul’s group.

I really enjoyed the riding diversity of Usery. I was in the mood to go fast and I got plenty of that on the southern trails. Paul’s group had a good time on the Pass Mountain trail. All but one of them went over the bars, and it was some rough riding, but they all said they had a great time. It was a good ending to my Arizona mountain biking trip.

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