Photo by Kurt Refsnider
2020 Course Description
Partly to satisfy some requests, but mostly to spread people out in light of the pandemic, there will be three options. Click link to access corresponding GPX track.
- Pinyons and Pines: Full course! (303 miles)
- Pinyons Loop: Southern portion of P&P up to Schultz Pass and then Schultz Creek Trail and some FUTS urban trail back to start. (167 miles)
- Pines Loop: Start with a climb up Elden Lookout Road and then descend the newly constructed Heart Trail to join with the northern portion of P&P. (164 miles)
We will cap the total number of riders for all three options at 50. Riders will be required to wear masks and use hand sanitizer when resupplying. If you’ve already signed up for full P&P but would like to switch to one of the shorter options, let me know. The following description is for the full P&P course.
The full P&P course for 2020 is roughly 303 miles and consists of a Southern Portion (149 miles) and the Northern Portion (154 miles). The total elevation gain for the route is about 24,000 feet, split evenly between the two portions. The start and finish is at Flagstaff Bicycle Revolution, located at 3 South Mikes Pike, sandwiched between Pizzicletta and Mother Road Brewery. Each year, the Southern Portion will more or less stay the same while the Northern Portion will differ from year to year, typically alternating between a clockwise and a counterclockwise orientation.
Due to construction on south campus of NAU, the first few miles of the route have been modified. Folks can start riding at their own pace after the group crosses Mt. Dell Road, roughly mile 4.5. Riders will turn right about a mile later and follow singletrack for several miles before reaching Woody Mountain Road. The route then heads south following mostly dirt roads and eventually descends Casner Mountain Trail to the red rock of Sedona (4,350 feet). Be careful descending Casner Mountain! More dirt roads eventually deposit riders onto some of Sedona’s best singletrack as the route navigates towards the bottom of Schnebly Hill Road. Riders should be sure to refuel and stock up on food and water before ascending Schnebly Hill Road. After crossing under Interstate 17, the route weaves its way east via a network of Forest Service roads to meet up with the Arizona Trail above Mormon Lake, Arizona’s largest natural lake. The route then follows the AZT north via mostly singletrack for a few miles before turning onto dirt roads, which riders will follow until reaching Lake Mary Road. After a couple miles of pavement, the route climbs up to Marshall Lake to rejoin the AZT, which riders will follow (choosing the equestrian bypass option at roughly mile 132.5) until Campbell Mesa. The route follows a few miles of single track through Campbell Mesa and then rejoins the AZT. The Southern Portion officially ends where the route crosses under Route 89. A 24-hour resupply option is a short distance to the southwest just before the tunnel.
The Northern Portion (154 miles) winds its way through Ponderosa pine forests and grasslands among hundreds of extinct volcanoes. The centerpiece of the second loop is the San Francisco Peaks, home to Humphreys Peak (12,633 feet), the highest point in Arizona. The Peaks have religious significance to several Native American tribes. In particular, the Peaks form the Diné (Navajo) sacred mountain of the west, called Dook’o’oosłííd, which means “the summit that never melts”. The Hopi name for the Peaks is Nuva’tukya’ovi, which translates to “place-of-snow-on-the-very-top”. After refueling at the Conoco on 89A, the Northern Portion begins by heading north on the AZT towards Schultz Pass. From Schultz Pass, the route climbs Waterline Road for nearly 10 miles before descending on the Inner Basin Trail (yield to hikers!) to Lockett Meadow. A quick descent on a dirt road leads riders to the entrance to Sunset Crater National Monument. After a few miles of pavement, the route turns north onto black cinder roads that loop around O’Leary Peak. Shortly after crossing Route 89, the route navigates its way past numerous cinder cone volcanoes, the most magnificent of which is SP Crater. Several miles of dirt roads through the grasslands of Babbitt Ranch lead riders to an AZT cache box (mile 215). Instead of following the AZT, the route ascends on dusty double track to Route 180. After crossing the highway, more double track and dirt roads pass by Slate Mountain and eventually climb up onto the northern shoulder of Kendrick Peak. Riders arrive in Pumpkin Center after descending from Bull Basin and then weave their way through the beautiful grasslands of Government Prairie. After resupplying in the town of Parks, the route heads back north passing along the eastern edge of Government Prairie, eventually passing Wild Bill Hill and Antelope Hill. A few miles of smooth dirt roads lead riders to Route 180, which they will follow for a mile before turning east on more dirt. After a couple of quick miles, the route turns north onto the Peaks Moto Trail. The next 8 miles are a mix of sweet and sometimes rugged singletrack mixed in with short stretches of hike-a-bike. When the route reaches the AZT, riders will turn south and follow the AZT for nearly 20 miles before reaching Schultz Creek Trail. A fun 4-mile descent on singletrack deposits riders near Route 180. A few more miles, mostly on the FUTS urban trail, returns riders back to where they started.
Below are some important notes, including information concerning resupply options for food and water. All mileages are approximate.
- Important: It’s a long way from the start to the first reliable water. Moreover, it’s likely to be hot after dropping down off the rim into Sedona. Be sure to start with enough water!
- Mile 39: Be careful descending Casner Mountain Trail! This is the most serious part of the route.
- Miles 44-54: This portion of the route is different than last year. We will follow a part of the Robbers Roost Bikepacking Route (in the opposite direction). This variation will be more scenic and will hopefully reduce the interaction with Jeeps and Razors.
- Mile 49.1: There is a bathroom at the Honanki Heritage Site, but no water.
- Mile 55.5: Turn right into a what looks like a dirt parking lot and then follow a faint trail to the Aerie Trailhead.
- Mile 61.6: Shortly after crossing a paved road, there is an intermittent stream that may have water in it. Water needs to be filtered or treated. CURRENT STATUS: dry.
- Mile 64.2: Turn left off of Dry Creek Road onto the Chimney Rock Connector Trail. You will need to hop a white fence to continue on the route. If you’d prefer not to lift your bike over the fence, you can continue south on Dry Creek Road and navigate your way through the neighborhood and eventually regain the route at the Thunder Mountain Trailhead.
- Mile 70.4: Pass through a tunnel, which goes under Route 89A.
- Mile 70.6: Shortly after merging onto Route 89A, you’ll have a few options for stocking up on food and water before leaving Sedona. There is a 76 gas station on the right side of Route 89A at the second round about that has a modest supply of snacks. After turning south on Route 179, Arroyo Roble Marketplace is on the right side of the road. There is a Circle K on Route 179 about a quarter of a mile past the turn onto Schnebly Hill Road. If you want to grab a meal, there is a Burger King on the right side of 89A just before the second round about and Oregano’s is a short distance south on Route 179. Both of these are on route. In addition, Starbucks, Chipotle, and Wildflower Bread Company are in a shopping plaza on a hill on 89A a bit north of the intersection with Route 179. There are also a few bike shops in Sedona. Over the Edge and the Fat Tire Bike Shop are the closest shops to the route.
- Mile 83.1: There is a water spigot at the ADOT yard just before crossing under Interstate 17. The spigot is located near a ramada in a grassy area by some houses. If for some reason this spigot is turned off, you might consider riding north on the interstate to the town of Munds Park, where you’ll have access to food and water.
- Mile 96.6: You’ll be riding fast on a dirt road and the lefthand turn onto the Arizona Trail is easy to miss. In the event of an emergency, continue straight on FS240 and then turn right at the bottom of the hill towards Mormon Lake Lodge.
- Mile 98: There is a water spigot located at the Dairy Springs Campground. Turn right on the Mormon Mountain Trail and descend for 2 minutes to the campground. It’s roughly 5 minutes of climbing to get back on route. There are several water spigots in the campground. There is one near site 14 and another near site 20. CURRENT STATUS: The water will be on until at least 11am on Sunday, October 11. No guarantees after that.
- Mile 105.2: Weimer Spring is just south of the road. You’ll need to filter/treat the water. If you are thinking of splitting the Southern Portion into two days, this would make a nice place to camp. CURRENT STATUS: There is water here, but not a lot and it’s pretty murky.
- Mile 120.0: If you turn left on Lake Mary Road and ride roughly 0.4 miles off route, you will reach Canyon Vista Campground. There is water next to the campground host. CURRENT STATUS: Sign next to campground host says that the campground closes at 11AM on Monday, October 12.
- Mile 120.2: The Lake Mary Country Store (7am-6pm, 5pm on Sunday) is on your right along Lake Mary Road. CURRENT STATUS: The store will be CLOSED for the season on ride weekend.
- Mile 123.5: Instead of turning left and climbing up Marshall Lake Road, continue straight for roughly 0.9 miles. As soon as you see Upper Lake Mary, there is a dirt pullout framed by a wooden face. You can easily scramble down to the water at this point. Water needs to be filtered/treated.
- Mile 149.5: Just south of tunnel that goes under Route 89, head southwest on double track to access Conoco Travel Center (open 24 hours).
- Mile 149.5: After refueling at the Conoco Travel Center, return to the route, pass under Route 89, and follow the AZT towards Shultz Pass.
- Mile 157.2: When you hit Schultz Pass Road, turn right. You will turn left onto Waterline Road shortly afterwards.
- Miles 157.3-166.2: There may be downed trees on Waterline Road. Most of them are easy to lift your bike over, but some of them could be a bit annoying.
- Mile 166.2: Turn off of Waterline Road onto the Inner Basin Trail. This is one of my favorite sections of trail in Arizona, but it is also popular with hikers, which you should yield to no matter how much of a hurry you are in.
- Mile 168.3: There is a small pond on the left just before turning left onto Lockett Meadow Road. Water needs to be filtered or treated.
- Mile 174.8: Depending on when you enter Sunset Crater National Monument, you may be stopped at the entrance booth. If you have a Parks Pass, bring it with you just in case. Just after passing the entrance booth, there is a Visitor’s Center on the right. There is drinking fountain outside that you can use to refill water. There is also a vending machine, but does not always work (and the staff in the Visitor’s Center does not always have the means to break change or help with the machine). There is also a bathroom that is sometimes open after hours, but do not assume it will be open. It’s a long way to the next water source!
- Mile 215.6: Where the AZT merges in from the left (we are not going that way), there is a public cache box hidden in the bushes. Do not take any water (or food) that is designated for an individual! The ride organizer (Dana Ernst) will stock this cache before and after the ride.
- Mile 232.3: Tip Top Tank is on your right. Water needs to be filtered or treated. CURRENT STATUS: Likely dry.
- Mile 235.1: Beware of dogs!
- Mile 242.4: There is a public water spigot at Spring Valley Cabin. It may or may not be turned on. These cabins are rented out, so please be respectful and quiet if stopping here.
- Mile 250.7: Parks General Store.
- Mile 251.2: Texaco Gas Station on right.
- Mile 255.3: Roughly 3.5 miles off route to McDonald’s and Pilot Travel Center in Bellemont.
- Mile 262.9: Metal stock tank usually has reliable water. Water needs to be filtered or treated. CURRENT STATUS: Likely dry.
- Miles 269.9-278.1: Follow Peaks Moto Trail. This is mostly singletrack built for motorcycles, not mountain bikes. A few sections of short but steep hike-a-bike. This may not be a popular addition to course, but I quite enjoy it.
- Mile 278.1: Turn right onto AZT.
- Mile 286.4: Alfa Fia Tank is a short distance to the west. Water needs to be filtered or treated.