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Planning a shuttle ride in mid-March with a couple buddies and it's our first time riding BCT. A few questions...

Looking at Trailforks, this looks like our best route from Bumble Bee to Emery Henderson TH. Any other recommendations?

Also, can we leave the shuttle vehicle at BB TH? Is there parking?

Does anyone know if we can camp at the Emery TH?

Start – Bumble Bee TH
BCT (Arrastri Creek) – 3 miles
BCT (Soap Creek) – 4 miles
BCT (Kay Mine North) – 2 miles
BCT (Kay Mine South) – 3 miles
BCT (Skyline) – 5 miles
BCT (Cheapshot) - 3 miles
BCT (Williams Mesa) – 3 miles
BCT (Table Mesa) – 2 miles
BCT (Windmill Valley North) – 1 mile
BCT (Windmill Valley) – 2 miles
BCT (Dow Spring) – 2 miles
BCT (Boy Scout East) – 2 miles
BCT (Biscuit Flat) – 3 miles
End – Emery Henderson TH

Thanks!
 

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You can leave your vehicle at the BB trailhead. The parking lot has room for about a dozen vehicles. People do camp at the EH trailhead, though I don't know if it's officially legal. No water there.

Edit: Looks like you've rounded down most of your mileages. No big deal, but miles on most sections of the BCT don't come easy. Most of the black trails are on the easier side technically, but can be an upper body workout. At least for this old guy.

Be mindful of the level of the Agua Fria. Crossings can be sketchy after a rain event or during peak Spring runoff. Five feet on the Rock Springs gauge was thigh deep on one of my recent crossings.
 

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An X factor would be how much the Agua Fria is running or not running. If memory serves there are three places where you have to cross water (which may not all be the Agua Fria but let's pretend that it is being desert an all).

First place is coming down the hill from BB where the trail spits you in to a fairly steep box canyon, right around MP 43...I would say a good 5-5.5 miles from the first trailhead off the Bumblebee exit on I-17.

The next one is really the same crossing but two places right around the Black Canyon City TH (north of the TH).

If you clear this one there is another crossing about a mile from this one which is less of a challenge than the other two if the waters are running heavy/high.

If there aren't any big rain or snow storms in Northern Arizona a week or so before your trip you should be fine.

Having said that riding the BCT in March is pretty amazing - keep eyes peeled for reptiles though!
 

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https://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?site_no=09512800 gives a sense for water flow through this area.

Here is a rough idea of what I'm talking about from one of my GPS tracks.

bct.jpg

The lower yellow lines are roughly where the water crossing is and this track ends at the first water crossing that you would hit coming down from Bumblebee.

I can't remember if this track was a turnaround at the water crossing due to too much water, being tired, weather, etc.

This is looking north and the last water crossing would be just southwest of the image (say 7 o'clock position).

Depending on how you proceed from the second water crossing you have like a mile southwest from the lowest point on the track (if you go up the hill from the water crossing to where the the trail splits to the TH vs continuing on).

There is an option to skirt around the bottom of the hill/mountain and get to the same place.

Has been a couple of years since I have ridden down but it is doable as long as there wasn't a giant rain storm or snow with melt a few days before.

Might end up with a couple of soaked shoes/socks but that just gives you more weight to push on the pedals with, heh.
 

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Everyone above has good info. One thing that wasn't mentioned... not sure if you are a desert dweller or if you are coming from flag, etc... but temps in March can be tricky. Wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for mid-high 80's. That doesn't sound bad, but in those canyons it can get a bit toasty and as previously mentioned... BCT miles aren't the easiest of miles. Definitely carry more than you think or bring a method of filtering.

Another thing I just noticed... why would you camp at EH if you are starting at bumble bee? You'd be better off camping somewhere near your start point. I'm sure you can find something off of CK road.
 

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You can leave your vehicle at the BB trailhead. The parking lot has room for about a dozen vehicles. People do camp at the EH trailhead, though I don't know if it's officially legal. No water there.
YOU CANNOT CAMP AT EMERY HENDERSON. There is a host there and you CANNOT park overnight at Emery either. People have been given a hard time for cars there after dark. Now bikepack camping a mile from EH trailhead. No issues, but just don't do it at the trailhead.
 
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This ^^^

There is an area maybe a mile or so north of EH on the west side of New River Rd where you can park and/or camp. Not a very nice area for camping though. I'd much rather camp up toward Bumble Bee.

Personally I like the north end of BCT more than the sections south of Black Canyon City. You could start with Big Bug segment and head south to BCC. This would be similar mileage to what you proposed. There is good dispersed camping just south of Big Bug TH. And if you wanted something to ride the second day, the BCT/Copper Mtn loop is about 12mi and is just north of there.
 

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Yes you CAN park there overnight at the TH (and at all BCT TH's) if you are backpacking/bikepacking. Just cannot camp at the trailhead. Plenty of dispersed parking 3 mile up New River Road. If the host gives you any problems, call BLM directly 623-580-5500.

YOU CANNOT CAMP AT EMERY HENDERSON. There is a host there and you CANNOT park overnight at Emery either. People have been given a hard time for cars there after dark. Now bikepack camping a mile from EH trailhead. No issues, but just don't do it at the trailhead.
 

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Has anyone parked a vehicle at Hidden Treasure Mine Trail head? Doesn't look like much of a trail head from the maps
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks all for taking the time to provide your insights. Excited about finally doing this trail. We all live in the Phoenix area and ride all summer so I think the temps will be manageable. Good advice on packing extra water though.

Really appreciate the guidance on camping and water crossings. I think we'll have to revisit our plan around that and maybe look at riding a more northern section.
 

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Has anyone parked a vehicle at Hidden Treasure Mine Trail head? Doesn't look like much of a trail head from the maps
I've parked there. You're right, it is not much of trailhead, just place to park off the road. There's a large water tank (inaccessible to the public AFAIK) , a corral, and some large shade trees. Looks like its seasonally used by ranchers, but you might be able to camp there if you don't care about privacy. Antelope Creek and Hidden Treasure are two of the nicest sections of the BCT. There are many other, more private, dispersed camping spots in the area.
 

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As someone living in Northern Arizona the pattern so far this winter has been warm, a short storm with rain or snow, then warm.

Unless something changes, and it doesn't seem like it will based on the time of year, I don't think water crossings will be a problem.

The section from Antelope Creek down through Hidden Treasure Mine and down through Bumblebee to Black Canyon City is definitely my favorite section of the BCT.

Its all good, don't get me wrong, but the transitions through that section down is not only a blast to ride but is a really nice slice of the desert where you feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere even though you aren't really in the middle of nowhere.
 

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How do the trails North of Black Canyon hold up after rain? Planning to do Hidden Treasure Mine to Skyline on Sunday.
 

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I've heard of death mud on some of the northern most part. Can't comment on the rest of it. Unfortunately riding just 10ft into death mud can put a serious damper on your day.

Might be worth considering something that's known to be good following rain unless you can get more specific feedback.
 

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How do the trails North of Black Canyon hold up after rain? Planning to do Hidden Treasure Mine to Skyline on Sunday.
I've never ridden these right after a rain, but I suspect Bumblebee, Hidden Treasure, and Antelope Creek will all hold up well for the most part. Heading south, I recall a short section of clay soil where HT turns into BB, but nothing major. Big Bug, on the other hand, could be a mess when wet. Russian Well, too.

Edit: Add Drinking Snake to the avoid when wet list.
 

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HTM to Skyline is pretty good in the rain and after rain.

North of Antelope Creek has some death mud** sections after heavy rain from my experience.

Right now the forecast is a half inch of rain on Saturday which is marginal death mud conditions for that stretch (north of Antelope Creek so heading north toward Cordes Station from the top of the hill there toward Mayer).

**Mud from soil that is chock full of clay. Transforms tires into chocolate donuts from hell in about 2 seconds. Tires are too large to fit under the arch on your fork from the mud and rocks sticking to each other and weighs about a million pounds
 

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Quick question for those who may have ridden this area........I have been planning to do a portion of the Black Canyon Trail, south from AZ69 to Emory Henderson. Got all my ducks in a row, bike is ready, carpools/kid practices covered........and now its calling for 1/2" of rain the day I want to start out. Naturally.

I see from the previous posts that the upper portions can be a mess. I don't mind riding in a bit of rain, but I don't want to trash any trails or get stuck at a crossing.....
Will 1/2' inch be enough to prevent crossing the Agua Fria? I have checked the flow rates on the USGS site and right now it looks fine.

Thoughts?

thanks in advance.
 

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Quick question for those who may have ridden this area........I have been planning to do a portion of the Black Canyon Trail, south from AZ69 to Emory Henderson. Got all my ducks in a row, bike is ready, carpools/kid practices covered........and now its calling for 1/2" of rain the day I want to start out. Naturally.

I see from the previous posts that the upper portions can be a mess. I don't mind riding in a bit of rain, but I don't want to trash any trails or get stuck at a crossing.....
Will 1/2' inch be enough to prevent crossing the Agua Fria? I have checked the flow rates on the USGS site and right now it looks fine.

Thoughts?

thanks in advance.
Very hard to predict. Depends on where the rain falls and how quickly.
 
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