Parts of this trail will likely be impassable or submerged in the monsoon season.
The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area hosts a treasure of nature and history. This ride starts at the Millville Rock Art Discovery Trail off of Charleston Road and terminates (or you can make it an out-and-back) at Fairbanks, an historic railroad town exhibit.
Need to Know
Restrooms are at each end of the trail. It is otherwise remote. Horse riders use parts of this trail. Slime tubes or tube shields are a must with the mesquite and goat heads (pants or shin guards maybe).
The terrain lets you warm up before dropping you into a low sandy river crossing which leads into a lose rock technical climb. To the left of the climb is a fun loop called the Petroglyph Discovery Loop. The trail has a variety of grade changes and composition, the most enjoyable part for technical-minded riders.
About two miles in, exiting the saddle brings the you down into the river bed. The transition is nasty so keep alert. This is the most strenuous part of the ride, especially on the way back since the sand is soft. The soil hardens up as you get out of the river bed about a mile later.
The next couple miles are pretty mellow, providing opportunities to speed up. You'll parallel the old railroad (no tracks or ties) until about the five-mile mark where you can peel off left to check out the mill ruins.
Come back to a short climb that puts you on a somewhat technical descent. Loose large rocks in some stretches require riders to control their speed. Crossing the previously mentioned railroad tracks around the six-mile mark ends this section. The gravel where the tracks used to be is lose. Turn right into a shaded hollow where you'll see some very old trees before coming up on an old homestead.
The trail dog-legs at the property which puts you on North Old Fairbank Road
, a smooth doubletrack for the next two and a half miles. You can go through the gate or turn right at Hwy 82 which puts you at Fairbank Historical Site.
History & Background
Fairbank, AZ was a railroad town until the middle of the last century. Parts of it are preserved and maintained, making it a common tourist stop in the travel season.
Information about the Petroglyph Discovery Loop and 19th century mining operations near and along the San Pedro River are at the trailhead and in the loop.
Shared By: Ben Schollett