Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Patagonia, AZ - Gravel/Dirt

Sort of a cloudy day in the Tucson area today - so we headed south towards the border with Mexico to Patagonia, Arizona. Found that there are some really nice gravel (dirt) roads from Patagonia that take you into the surrounding mountains in the Coronado National Forest. Patagonia sits at 4,050 feet and is a small town of around 900 people - 18 miles north of the US - Mexico border. We opted for a simple loop of almost 30 miles that would give us a taste of the gravel-dirt roads of southern Arizona.

Downtown Patagonia offers a large linear park with plenty of parking and a very decorative restroom building.

Heading out of town we passed a very unusual house that looked like an upside down pyramid stuck in the ground. Oddly - it seemed to fit right into the surrounding landscape.

Patagonia, Arizona sits right on the path of the  Arizona Trail. You pass the southern trail head as you leave town to the south on Harshaw Road. The Arizona Trail runs north-south and goes 800 miles from the Arizona-Mexico border to the Arizona-Utah border. A multi-use trail for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

Our route took us into the Coronado National Forest - 1.78 million acres spread across southern Arizona and New Mexico.

Just a few miles outside of Patagonia, we finally arrive at Harshaw Creek Road to the left - giving us the start of our gravel/dirt adventure.

Heather taking in the scenery and isolation.

Lots of nice tree canopy within the forest.

The first four (4) miles of gravel/dirt were very nice - great scenery and almost no traffic.

A little mud diversion!

At eight (8) miles into the ride - you bear left to continue on San Rafael Valley Road. If you have a ranch out here - the signs are very good :)

Lots of Cottonwood trees along San Rafael Valley Road.

Not the tallest mountains - but very scenic.

The ride along San Rafael Valley Road is all uphill - with a pretty good climb on the last mile where the road intersects with Apache Road.

Turning on to Apache Road - some would say the road gets worse - I like to think it just got better!

Apache Road has some nice climbs too - Heather taking a break at the high point on Apache Road.

Apache Road eventually ends back at Harshaw Road - a right turn and you are heading predominately downhill for the last half of this route. Unfortunately there was a bit of water and mud on this section. Heather really did not care for all the mud and water. I enjoyed this section immensely on my bike with 3" wide tires ;)

Coming back on Harshaw Road actually takes you to the former town of Harshaw - sort of a ghost town with a few crumbling foundations left in the ground.

One of the remnants of Harshaw Road - my muddy bike... still a few more miles of wet and mud until we reached pavement again.

About five (5) miles from Patagonia we returned to pavement and enjoyed some very nice downhills all the way back to town.

My bike was a little dirty and muddy - but really not bad... If you want muddy - go ride the Land Run 100 in Oklahoma when it has rained :)

Our late lunch was a sandwich and some baked goods at Ovens of Patagonia - the Snickerdoodle cookie was a well deserved treat!

After our late lunch, we made a short visit to the Paton Center for Hummingbirds on the edge of Patagonia. Heather enjoyed her time here with all her "Twitcher" friends! She saw a Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Gila Woodpecker, White Crowned Sparrow, Inca Dove, and Anna's Hummingbird.

​We really enjoyed our day down in Patagonia - a great place to visit and only 50 miles south of Tucson.