Black Canyon Trail
A world-class trail system in the Bradshaw Mountain foothills of central Arizona, the Black Canyon Trail is the future of multi-use long distance trails.
Arizona’s BCT is several decades in the making but has recently been stretched out to nearly 80 miles of flowy purpose-built singletrack that just begs for a multi day trip. The Black Canyon Trail was designated as a National Recreation Trail in June 2008. This is a very prestigious honor, as only the best trails in the country are eligible for this classification.
Day by Day Itinerary
TRIP DAY 1
We begin our week with a shuttle from our Phoenix meeting point over to McDowell Mountain Regional Park. The park offers over 40 miles of mountain biking trails where we can ease into our week, test our skills a bit and warm up before we tackle our main event. This is the site of the famous Cactus Cup races of the 90's and continues to be one of the areas most fun places to ride. It's hard to believe this 20000 acre park is just outside of Phoenix. McDowell Mountain Regional Park has amazing majestic mountain views and our time spent here will be memorable. 12-22 total miles
TRIP DAY 2
One of the more famous loops at McDowell is called the Competitive Track. The Long Loop of the track was designed for the average rider but is used by all. The Sport Loop is for intermediate riders and experts. The Technical Loop is for the expert rider. This portion of the track offers swooping turns, very technical descents, rugged terrain, and steep inclines. Each loop offers a variety of obstacles to test the rider's skills. This competitive track is geared for mountain bikers who want to improve their technique, but for us it will just amount to a whole bunch of fun! With lots of options to choose from we can make this day as easy or hard as we like, knowing tomorrow we head off to the Black Canyon Trail. 10-24 total miles
TRIP DAY 3
After a hearty breakfast we'll break camp and shuttle north to the start of the BCT. Our start is just off highway 69 near the town of Mayer in the Prescott National Forest affords us some great views of what to expect as we head toward the Bradshaw Mountains. With a net downhill today, we'll ride south through varying desert terrain in between the tiny towns of Cleator and Cordes and onto out eventual camp among the towering Saguaro cactus near Bumblebee. The trail is so well constructed that no matter what type of mountain bike your riding, you're going to love it. 25 total miles
TRIP DAY 4
As we head "on down the trail" the major geographic features include the deeply incised canyons of the Agua Fria River and the foothills of the Bradshaw Mountains to the West. On today's ride, passes and ridgelines will offer views east to Black Canyon City. Complementing this are the rugged landscapes and many flat topped mesas of Black Canyon. The trail itself continues to be as flowy and fun as yesterday, but with a few more technical challenges thrown in, not to mention a potentially exciting river crossing! 22 total miles
TRIP DAY 5
Our final day on the BCT is really the heart & soul of the trail. Another river crossing, fantastic views and vast Saguaro forests round out the day as we transtition from the rugged terrain of the higher elevation to the rolling hills of the Emery Henderson area. The closer we get to the end the flatter and faster the trail gets-- which makes for a perfect finish. Our trip will end with a shuttle back to Phoenix where we will say our goodbyes. 22 total miles
About The Operator:
Western Spirit Cycling
The History of Western Spirit
"Back in the day", as our oldest guides say, Western Spirit Cycling was founded by a charismatic mad bike rider named Lu Warner. It was 1989; Lu couldn't get enough of riding his bike and decided he should impart some of his joy on the masses. He acquired a Suburban, dubbed "the burb” and a couple of guides and started taking people around the White Rim. Now Lu can be found in some semi-state of retirement in Crested Butte, CO, but his vision was just the beginning.
Just for the record, yes, we still have the burb. It's retired. And those "couple of guides" are our finest Rachel & Johnny - no sign of retirement there!
Then the Mid-90s
Ashley Korenblat bought Western Spirit in 1997 and since then has spent many days riding unknown trails (with a headlamp in her backpack, just in case) creating the plethora of trips that Western Spirit now offers. Ashley is a graduate of Dartmouth and Tuck Business School, a former bike racer, former Wall Street captive and possessor of entrepreneurial spirit. She was president of Merlin during the Titanium mountain bike heyday and served as the IMBA President working to sustain trail availability to everyone. Combine all that with the desire for a Moab lifestyle and an alternative view of a fulfilling career path, and you have the perfect recipe for the owner of a cycling tour company. Enter Mark. Mark is our charming, wicked-fit, voice of reason, miraculously lured from his ski town tradition to live in the desert. Ashley and Mark got married in 1999 in Moab and now run the company together.
Well, actually Kip runs the place. Kip is Ashley and Mark's young boy and he has his own bike helmet and chariot. He is also beginning to tear it up on the dirt with his training wheels.
Our office staff is comprised of mostly gals...and Mark. Thank goodness for Mark! Mark is our bike junkie and can be seen pedaling on a daily basis. Ashley makes the best backcountry bacon you will ever have, but definitely burns off those calories towing the little Kipster around town in his trailer. Anne Clare loves riding her road bike and hiking in the mountains. Sheri and Tonya both love the water and do their best to kayak 365 days a year. Emily is pretty "green". She is the founder of a non-profit organization, Community Rebuilds that promotes affordable and eco-friendly housing.
All of us have worked outdoors and are familiar with what you will experience on a Western Spirit trip. At any given time when you call you can talk to someone who has been on any trip that interests you. That's because we love to be out there too!
In our busy world, we often don't get to be outside enough. Even if you do, there's some phenomenon that just makes you want more. Nothing like going somewhere to make you realize all the other places you still need to go! Traveling outside makes you see Mars when it's the closest to earth it'll ever be, makes you smell the fragrant lupine covering the mountain slope, makes you feel the wind, see the perfect sunset, catch an eclipse of the moon, experience the herd of elk in the alpine meadow, and start to tell time by the location of the moon in the night sky.
What's that all worth in our busy world? Well, it is our world.
On all of our tours, we strive to protect our fragile mountain and desert environments. Many of our campsites are remote and unimproved, and we seek to leave them better than we found them.
Food is one thing we take pretty seriously. Our guides are great backcountry chefs and your trip includes all meals from lunch on first day to lunch on last day.
Our customized trucks and vans carry all of your gear as well as many camper comforts! We have the coolest custom F-450's in the industry. Our guides have incredible backcountry experience, but the best part is that they are all super friendly and look forward to a week of riding with you.
We camp primarily in pristine locations where it's quiet, dark and peaceful. The finest morning view comes with a hot cup of cowboy coffee. All shuttles are included from our meeting place to the start of your ride. At the end of the trip we shuttle back to our meeting place.
Western Spirit Cycling, Inc. operates under special use permits from the USDA Forest Service in the Boise, Coronado, Dixie, Grand Mesa, Gunnison, Kaibab, Manti La Sal (Moab and Monticello Ranger Districts), San Juan, Sawtooth, Sierra Vista, Uncompahgre, Challis, Clearwater, Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Caribou-Targhee, Black Hills, Mount Hood, Umpqua, Nantahala, White Mountain, Monongahela, and Pisgah National Forests and by Dakota Prairie Grasslands. As well as under permits issued by the Bureau of Land Management in the San Juan Resource Area; Henry Mountain Field Station; Moab, Arizona Strip and Grand Junction Field Offices; Grand Staircase National Monument; and by Bryce, Zion, Capitol Reef, Grand Canyon, Crater Lake and Blue Ridge Parkway National Parks. Western Spirit is a concessionaire in Canyonlands National Park.