San Tan Surprise


After a couple of weeks out of the saddle fighting colds, flues, and viruses, I made it out to San Tan Park this week for a short “see how I feel” ride. I opted to drive out to the park entrance on Phillips and pay the extra 5 bucks so I didn’t have to gruel through the rite of passage over Goldmine Mountain. The best 5 bucks I ever spent.

I warmed up over Moonlight trail and connected with the San Tan singletrack. Conditions were dry, soft and sandy in more places than the last time I rode out here. Still rideable, it just takes a bit more energy to push. The horses sure chew up the trail as they klopp, klopp, klopp. I saw more horse tracks than tire tracks on this ride. Riding after the rains is San Tan’s finest riding.

I was planning to just ride the singletrack CCW around the mountain till it meets the sandy doublewide back to the entrance. Here I’d turn around and ride CW back the way I came. It’s a good thing I had a game plan, because there is nothing better than ditching your game plan when you see fresh new singletrack, especially in the San Tans.

A couple of small yellow flags and a herd of hoof prints caught my eye one mile into the singletrack on San Tan trail. I didn’t see it last time I rode out here. It looked so inviting – all the hoof prints and all – I just couldn’t wait to leave my tracks over the top.

I rode the “new” trail for about 2 miles out. The connection to the San Tan trail looked new but there were stretches that looked and felt like old trails. It had a Wild Horse kind of feel – winding through the desert in and out of washes. Occasionally more in washes than out. There were at least two long stretches I could have broken out the beach towel. No worries for me though, exploring new trails trumps sand.

I ran out of time before I could drop down into what looks like a big wash in Google Earth. No signs of any trail looping back, other than the big wash. The original trail plan for the area shows a trail named 1-9 that looks like the route I followed. I know the original plan has been changed a lot, but maybe 1-9 made the cut. All I know is the 2 mile stretch I rode was fun. It needs a lot more bike traffic to pack the trail. I know I’ll be back finish the loop and do even more exploring.