Chiva Falls

Mike Hoppe’s Off Road Adventures

In the late ‘80’s and into the 90’s I spent a lot of time in the Redington Pass area on my mountain bike (bicycle).  Getting up at 3am to be on the trail by 4:45am was the June ritual then.  Having moved to Marana 8 years ago and not doing as much riding, I had not been up in the more difficult sections for quite awhile.  There is a lot of good GS riding in that area which I’ve done, but the nicest areas are pretty hardcore, at least for Tucson, and wouldn’t be much fun (if not impossible) on my big 1150 Adventure.

     Since the motorcycle dirt bike thing is pretty new for me, (November 2006) I’ve sort of had it in the back of my mind to get proficient enough to do some exploring where I used to mountain bike…somewhat of a goal for me.  After surviving the thrashing on the super technical trails of Moab Utah with Phil Curtis and Mike Bartz last month, taking a shot at Chiva became a reality. 

     Friday morning I launched at 4am with the XR650R on the rail rack of my truck.  By 5:15 I was parked at the first lot just below Tanque Verde Falls and getting ready to ride…nice and cool, and awesome early morning light!  Heading up reading to mile marker 6 and into the corral, where I had started literally hundreds of mountain bike rides from, the adrenaline was pumping as I did the first couple descents to get to the top of the “chute”.  Fifteen years ago, the chute was the measure of the extreme mountain bikers technical skills…going both up and down was radically technical and steep. About 10 years ago, a center section was bulldozed because there were so many jeeps rolling over, and while still difficult, downgraded the difficulty of the route considerably.  First challenge for the XR…

     My plan was to head out towards Chiva Falls and do my old favorite loop (4426 & 4405 see map) which climbed up and behind Chiva Falls.  I had done many rides up there in the snow so I’m guessing (never did look at my GPS) that the elevation is pushing 5000 feet.  This loop is the most technical and rocky so I was a bit apprehensive, but at the same time excited to retrace some trails I had not seen for 8 years!  As you can see from the pics, there are still some challenging sections, beautiful vistas, and lots of elevation change.  Although difficult, the challenges of Moab more than prepared me to be able to do all of this with plenty of reserve.

     There are a couple of connecting routes that are new as well as at least 2 motorcycle/ATV only trails.  I did one of the trails (blue dots on the map that connect to #4434) towards the end of my 3.5 hour ride and found it pretty relaxing.  It’s not quite single track but close.  I also rode 37, 4424 and 4417 which also were fairly easy and doable on a GS if you like the rocks.  Still plenty more riding to do out there…I’ll be heading back out there in July at least a couple of times…anybody interested? 

[Ed Note:  There are many more Mike Hoppe Off Road Adventure rides on the web site in Members Stories.  If you are interested in contacting Mike, you can email him at MikeH@CasasChurch.org.  Thanks Mike for sharing with us!]

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