“A rugged, remote and historic loop on doubletrack through the southern Cookes Range.”
— Christopher Bare
Using a variety of backcountry roads and Jeep trail, this loop allows you to spend a day exploring the remote and historic southern Cookes Range. If you desire purpose-built singletrack, this ride will not be for you. However, if you love backcountry riding that will challenge your navigational skills, this will be an enjoyable day in the saddle.
Several remarkable features of this ride include the chance to see petroglyphs in Fryingpan Canyon, exploring the ruins of the historic Fort Cummings and quintessential southwest scenery consisting of wide open vistas dominated by high desert peaks.
Need to Know
The roads and trails in this area are not labelled and there are several plots of private land. This ride may be a complex navigational feat if you are not familiar with the area. Take time to look at the map and MTB Project mobile app
and note some of the significant landmarks and cautions that have been outlined.
In addition, several key geographic markers and other objects such as peaks, ridge lines, old vehicles and windmills should serve as landmarks that verify the proper path. As such, these have been outlined in the map and even represented in photographs that can be referenced.
This is a remote area and you'll have limited logistical support. Ensure you are well equipped for the environment and have at least a basic tool kit on hand for dealing with mechanical issues. It may be best to do this loop with other people as well. Additionally, cellular service is limited at best.
You can begin this adventure by parking at Green Leaf Mine near where the Fluorite Ridge: Inner Loop
and Fluorite Ridge: Outer Loop trails begin or where county road A018 connects with Green Leaf Mine Road as outlined in this description. In any event, turn onto the Jeep road and cross over the ridge of the retention dam. Continue along the road heading in a northeastern direction for about two miles. At this point, turn left onto another road and continue heading northeast.
At about 2.7 miles, you'll reach the base of a large retention dam. Follow the path around and over the northern end of the dam. At this point you have entered upper Frying Pan Canyon. There are several petroglyph sites scattered throughout the rocks in this area, but finding them will require a little hiking off of the main road. Use care when around the petroglyphs in order to preserve these precious windows into our past.
Continue climbing up until you level off at about four miles into the ride. At this point, you'll descend into another canyon as you make your way around the north face of Massacre Peak, the dominate feature in this area. After about a mile and a half of descending, you'll reach a junction of three roads. One road turns into the mountain range and heads in a western direction into a canyon. Another heads southwest onto the nearby ridge line and the third continues northeast around the ridge line. Stay on this road as the other two go onto private land. A caution symbol on the map has been placed to designate the presence of private roads.
At about 6.8 miles into the ride, you'll pass through old rock walls that make up the remnants of the old historic Fort Cummings. This fort was used to protect settlers and traders in the 1800's. Historic battles and associations with the Mormon Battalion occurred in this area. The old Cookes spring that supplied water for the fort is still intact and pointed out on the map. A few scattered signs can be found that will provide additional information about this historic area.
Continue following the road in a southern direction through the Fort Cummings Area. At about 7.4 miles into the ride, you'll see a cattle guard and you should notice a two-track path to the right just before the cattle guard. Turn right onto this two track and follow it south. Just past the 10-mile point, you'll notice another trail intersection. Continue heading south and avoid the road to the north as it enters private land. A caution symbol pointing this out has been placed on the map.
Just over eleven miles into the ride, you'll pass a fallen windmill and another trail intersection. Continue to head south and east toward the highway. At about 11.8 miles into the ride you should pass a cattle watering hole where the husk of an old car can be found. Continue heading toward the highway. Just prior to Hwy 26, you'll see a path that runs parallel to the power lines. It will be safer to stay off the highway and follow this path using the power lines as an easy to follow landmark.
Just prior to 15 miles into the ride, the power line trail will intersect a fence and a gate will be present. Turn right onto the road on the other side of the gate and follow this road to the north and west. You'll generally climb up and between two ridge lines before the terrain opens up on the western slopes of the southern Cookes Range.
At about 18.4 miles into the ride, you'll intersect County Road A018. Just over 21 miles into the ride, A018 comes near a large corral. This is located on private land, so do not enter or disturb the structures in this area. The corral has been noted on the map for reference. Stay on the road and continue to the right as it crosses a gate. Continue along the road until it intersects Green Leaf Mine Road. Turn right onto Green Leaf Mine Road and complete the ride.
History & Background
Petroglyphs in upper Frying Pan Canyon and the historic Fort Cummings site will be located along this route.