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DFL>DNF>DNS
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This was my first time up to Mt. Graham. What can I say, some rides just have it all. This was one of those rides. Great singletrack, bad singletrack, HAB up, HAB down, crashes, forest roads, views, waterfalls, pavement, climbing, hitchhiking, re-supply, ice cream, nighttime finish, great company and good weather. Did I miss anything?

Mt. Graham - Ash Creek Loop

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The hike up to Heliograph Peak before the ride.

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This collage sums it up well.
 

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Great write up! Can't be all bad to spend 2 nights and 1 long day of Mtn biking with 3 ladies...
 

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I've been eyeballing Ash Creek on trailforks.com for some time now and searching the interwebz in search of beta hoping to find a diamond in the rough with 6000' of descending. Doesn't look like that's the case but a great write up nonetheless!
 

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Love the writeup John, looks like a great adventure...except for the riding back up part!

Let me know if you ever go back to explore more. That is something I would drive out for
 

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dirt visionary
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Sounds like you got the whole package :p Thanks for sharing !
 

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Just another half mile...
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Awesome adventure!

That brought back fond memories from the time a bunch of us shuttle monkeys joined one of James Shortbus trips to Mt Graham to explore several of the trails off the top. Fun times dropping down the first two trails, Shake Spring and Goudy Ridge, but Ash Creek was a whole different animal. Peeps on full DH rigs had a hard time compared to the peeps on all mtn rigs that could pedal. Here are few pics from Ash Creek. The goal was to hit Ash then back up to one more trip down Arcadia, but we barely made it out of Ash before dark. Ash Creek is definitely an adventure ride! I would do it again with a shuttle! Based on my GPS tracks, the three trails combined to 23 miles and over 12,000 of descending.

Short bus picking us up at the bottom of Goudy Ridge
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fixing double flats
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One of the smoother sections on Ash Creek
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Need really sticky tires here
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Neat built up section along the granite slab next to the creek
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HAB across the creek multiple times
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More neat trail building
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Lots of techi bits
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Regroup in the jungle
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Lots of over grown sections
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The trail went through here somewhere
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Another short section of ridable trail before crossing the creek again
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DFL>DNF>DNS
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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the pics Dale!! I'm thinking we took slightly different ways down Ash Creek. We did not see those built up sections along the creek. I'm betting when we ran into the fork the low route is what you guys took, we backtracked and took the upper route. Much more rider friendly compared to those pics!!

I'll have to go back and ride those other trails you shuttled.

Joe, always a good time with that group!!
 

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Natty Dread
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Been spending more time in Southern Arizona lately and the Mt. Graham area keeps catching my eye as does the Pinal Mountains, Chiriacahua and Huachucas. These all look like amazing, primitive, big mountain riding areas but all seem to be adjacent to wilderness or wilderness study which perhaps has restricted access and resulted in less usage. Not to mention fires and winter weather impacts. Are Ash Creek, Arcadia, Round the Mountain trails that could be revived? Sorry if I'm "out of my element" here like a child that's wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know.. ;-) As a trade off for my ignorance I'll put the offer out there that I'd be keen to do work on the trails if it's an effort folks think is worth pursuing.
 

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Been spending more time in Southern Arizona lately and the Mt. Graham area keeps catching my eye as does the Pinal Mountains, Chiriacahua and Huachucas. These all look like amazing, primitive, big mountain riding areas but all seem to be adjacent to wilderness or wilderness study which perhaps has restricted access and resulted in less usage. Not to mention fires and winter weather impacts. Are Ash Creek, Arcadia, Round the Mountain trails that could be revived? Sorry if I'm "out of my element" here like a child that's wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know.. ;-) As a trade off for my ignorance I'll put the offer out there that I'd be keen to do work on the trails if it's an effort folks think is worth pursuing.
The Frye fire devastated a huge swath of forest across Mt. Graham in the summer of 2017. Few areas on the northern slope were left untouched. I doubt that anyone has been down Ash Creek, Shannon to Arcadia, or the Round the Mountain loop since it all burned.

Frye Fire in June 2017 | Mount Graham Coalition

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I just wanted to give an update on Ash Creek. The trail has been reopened; however, the Forest Service has informed me that the trail is in very bad shape with dead fall and overgrowth. Crews are expected to work on the trail and it is anticipated that it will be rehabbed by sometime next year.
 

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DFL>DNF>DNS
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Discussion Starter #15
I just wanted to give an update on Ash Creek. The trail has been reopened; however, the Forest Service has informed me that the trail is in very bad shape with dead fall and overgrowth. Crews are expected to work on the trail and it is anticipated that it will be rehabbed by sometime next year.
I had seen some initial reports and it sounded pretty rough. That's fantastic news about the upcoming trailwork. I really want to revisit Ash Creek. Thanks for the update.
 

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Natty Dread
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Is there a trail advocacy group that supports the forest service efforts out at Mt Graham? I'd like to get involved.
 

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Natty Dread
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Think this is my first time in answering my own question on MTBR. There is an advocacy group now working with Mt Graham and it's SDMB! Cut/paste from a recent email update from those guys. I've been involved in some of the discussions and will be participating in their first volunteer event this weekend. Sign up for the SDMB Newsletter or follow on Facebook to keep up with what's going on or to participate. https://sonorandesertmountainbicyclists.wildapricot.org/email-signup

SDMB Email dated Nov 19 2020:
Exciting new projects coming up!

SDMB has just finalized a volunteer agreement with the Safford Ranger District of Coronado National Forest to start a multi-year initiative to re-open and improve the trails on Mt. Graham in the Pinaleno Mountains, just south of Safford. The Pinalenos are a Sky Islands range similar to the Catalinas (Mt. Lemmon), with elevations topping out above 10,000 feet, opportunities for developed and dispersed camping, and many miles of trails. Much of Mt. Graham was burned in the 2017 Frye Fire, and the trails have fallen into disrepair and are at risk of disappearing entirely.

The two trails we will start focusing on are the Arcadia National Recreation Trail and Ladybug Trail. Arcadia is 5 miles long and descends 2,700 feet. Ladybug is 6 miles long and descends 3,700 feet. Both have easy vehicle access for shuttles.

SDMB’s volunteer agreement will allow for both group volunteer events and individual work (for those who get prior approval). We hope to do a few organized events each year, while serving as the umbrella organization for mountain bikers who want to work independently. We are working on a training and approval process for independent trail maintenance.

For starters, we will focus on brushing and re-opening trail corridors. Then we will work with the Forest Service on bringing in volunteer and trail crew resources for tread restoration and reroutes as appropriate.
 

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Just another half mile...
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I too would like to ride it again one more time following the old route down the canyon.


I had seen some initial reports and it sounded pretty rough. That's fantastic news about the upcoming trailwork. I really want to revisit Ash Creek. Thanks for the update.
 

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Think this is my first time in answering my own question on MTBR. There is an advocacy group now working with Mt Graham and it's SDMB! Cut/paste from a recent email update from those guys. I've been involved in some of the discussions and will be participating in their first volunteer event this weekend. Sign up for the SDMB Newsletter or follow on Facebook to keep up with what's going on or to participate.
Thanks for the trail stewardship! And a chance to touch tread.

All of our volunteer events were canceled in 2020. 2021 can't come fast enough.
 

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Natty Dread
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Just to clarify the trail work that was done this past weekend on Mt Graham was on the Arcadia Trail not Ash Creek. SDMB will be focusing on Arcadia and Ladybug trails. To my knowledge the Ash Creek Trail was completely devastated due to post Frye Fire flooding and likely will not be re-aligned. The goods news is that we made it about 1.5miles up from the lower Arcadia Trail head and have brushed it out. There is a challenging scramble required to get across the washout at Wet Canyon which is about .25 mile from the lower trailhead. Cross with caution. Difficult to get a mtb up and down this part even hike a biking. The forest service will need to decide how they want to fix this section. SDMB will be continuing to clear the trail corridor. The tread looks to be in good condition. It was a well constructed trail and, so far, seems like it will be fun to ride once it's cleared out. Having done a solo exploration from the upper trail head just below Heliograph peak junction there is going to be considerable work to remove baby aspens, locust brush, debris in the trail and some big dead fall. Not impossible, but likely will require a few more weekends worth of 10-12 people putting in 4-6 hours per day. Lower down the mountain Round the Mountain Trail from Wet Canyon then connecting to Noon Creek Trail is good fun on a bike in there current state. Believe some locals keep these up along with the FS. Those can be shuttled or road burn from Noon Creek Picnic. These trails are between 5000-6000 ft so they look/feel similar to Mt Lemmon Bug Springs to Prison Camp in vegetation and surfaces. Mt Graham and the Pinalenos Mtns have a ton of potential for high quality trail experiences.
 
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