Chimney Rock Ride
by Mike Hoppe
It’s been awhile since the last ride report…but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a bunch of riding! Mostly repeats of various rides around Chiva Falls and Tangerine. Last Friday on my way to Phoenix I stopped off to do some new exploring I the Florence-Kelvin hwy area…found the best riding there yet! Put that on the radar for a future ride…
This past Friday Brian Sterret and I finally hooked up to attempt the Chimney Rock loop north of Chiva. I had mountain biked that area (around 1992) before it was a route, spent lots of time in canyons and sand washes, a hard core 45 mile bushwacking effort, lost, in the middle of summer, almost died…so of course, I was anxious to go back J!!
Departing on the single track across the road from the first entrance to Chiva Falls (4417) we tied into 4436, 4435, 4434 via the connecting single tracks to end up on Belota Road (36). Better pay attention if you are doing that section early, it gets fairly technical and narrow so you don’t want to be just trying to wake up! Talk to Jim Richardson at Ironhorse if you want to hear of hill climbing adventures in the other direction on 4436…way gnarly!
Anyway, after taking Belota Ranch Road down to the Gate at 4431 you very quickly come up on the base of Chimney Rock. We were greeted by what we think was an eagle sitting on top of it…too big to be a hawk and an all white chest…huge bird, but he was up so high we couldn’t get a good look at his head to tell for sure. Some good technical climbs take you up on one of the highest ridges in the area…spectacular. Coming off the ridge is accomplished in one monster, technical, loose descent. We had stopped at the top for a quick break, and is my norm, I was going to bump start the XR on the first part of the descent. I attempted bump starts in 4 different areas of the descent (it was long) resulting in only a rear wheel slide…very loose and steep with multiple shelves to keep it interesting. Brian and I re-grouped at the last descending pitch and as has often happened before acknowledged “Now we are committed”. We might have been able to get back up that hill but it would not have been pretty!!
Dropping into the canon base and the wash was awesome, huge cottonwoods, boulder strewn narrow washes, and 2 or 3 half mile sections of pure river rock streambed…lots of challenges and all of it under the shade of the big trees! A couple of challenging climbs as the route cut in and out of the wash and over the steep hills only to drop you back in the canyon again. Ultimately we popped back out on Redington Road at the top of the hill just northeast of Youtcy Ranch house. Probably one of the better loops in the area and certainly a challenging one!