The size and grandeur of the Grand Canyon never fails to amaze me. While I have been on this trail before and had stopped at the same viewpoints, my wife had not.
She made a decision a long time ago to never go on a trail with me unless I have ridden it before. Her experience of riding with me on some of my exploratory rides brought her to that resolution.
Seeing the pictures I had taken piqued her interest, so we planned a trip with some friends to take this trail. I was excited about it because I would be seeing these remarkable views anew through her eyes.
We took the first right on the south side of Fredonia, Arizona. Highway 67 took us about 22 miles south to a place called the Oak Corral where we unloaded.
We were in the Kaibab National Forest, which I think is one of the prettiest forests I have ever ridden through. The woods are clear of most dead fall, the air is clear, and the trails are fun and fast.
Following Ryan Road south, we came to Big Springs where the Forest Service has a Ranger Station. Cabins are available to the public for rent, but not that day. No sooner had we entered the property, when a Ranger came out and asked us to leave. The current pandemic has firefighters occupying the cabins and the station was temporarily closed to the public. We had time to fill our mugs with the sweet water from the springs before we left
Continuing south on Ryan Road, we came to the mouth of Lost Canyon. Turning west, we came through Burnt Corral Canyon to Big Saddle Point. Willis Little was with us on this ride. He showed us a cabin that his father had built in these woods while he was running cattle on the Kaibab.
Our views of the Grand Canyon were at Monument Point, Crazy Jug Point and Fence Point. Those points are fairly close together but the views are spectacular. We could see right down Crazy Jug Canyon and up to Steamboat Mountain. That mountain was the most prominent feature we could see from these points and it was easy to see how it got its name.
Leaving there, we headed for a fourth, North Timp Point. It is notable for the view of a steep drop to the canyon floor of some 4,000 feet.
I say headed for, but we didn’t make it. The trail was blocked by a huge fallen ponderosa pine and there was no way around it.
The ponderosa pine is the most common tree in the Kaibab Forest. Also called the bull pine, blackjack pine or western yellow pine, these trees are straight as an arrow. They can grow as high as 200 feet with trunks as thick as 3-4 feet across. Because this type of pine loses its lower branches as it grows, you can see long distances through these woods.
Blocked by this behemoth, we backtracked to the last junction and headed east. Another thing I like about riding in the mountains is the smell of the forest. It is such a fresh smell. The ponderosa adds to that because the bark is said to have the smell of vanilla or butterscotch. Not that I want to go around smelling tree trunks, but I do like the smell of the forest.
The trail took us east and then turned north on a track that would take us back to the Oak Corral, but we detoured for one last stop, the Dry Fork Fire Tower. While the observation platform is closed to the public, the stairs to reach it are not.
This tower stands 120 feet high and is situated at an elevation of 8,710 feet. I am told that there is quite a view from the top. I made it to the first landing and that view was just fine for me. However, I do love a good fire tower. I used to climb them on our family vacations when I was a boy.
Leaving the tower, we made it back to the Oak Corral, finishing a ride of about 77 miles. Being early May, the weather was very pleasant to be wearing a long-sleeved shirt. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and enjoy sharing what you have seen with someone else.