There are thousands of miles of trails and roads in the Apache and Sitgreaves National Forests. Many of these trails are accessible by mountain bike. Roads that wind through the forest are ideal for cycling.
The climate is dry (always carry extra water) and many miles of the trails are open during the winter. During the summer monsoon season dangerous storms can develop in the afternoon; it is best to ride early in the morning.
Just looking at the Forest map should make it apparent that the opportunities to go mountain biking are almost limitless. Many of the roads that crisscross the Forests are made to order for these sturdy all-terrain bicycles that have evolved as a hybrid of the old balloon tired cruiser and the sleek ten-speed racer. There are jeep tracks, logging roads, and little used forest roads where motorized traffic is infrequent enough not to interfere with bike riding. The best way to find these unmarked bonanzas is to get a Forest map and start looking for the double dotted lines or unshaded double solid lines that indicate primitive roads or dirt roads. The next step is to pick out the ones which lead to places that look to be of interest to you. If you have the time and inclination, this way of approaching the situation is a bit like discovering the forest all over again and seeing it from a brand new perspective in the process.
Who's Got the Right of Way
If you end up riding on a trail, keep in mind that bicyclists should yield both to horseback riders and hikers. That means when you encounter one of these other trail users, it is up to you to pull over to the side of the trail and stop until you have completely been passed.
And Don't Forget
When you bring your mountain bike to the Forests, don't forget to bring along all of the support equipment you'll need to make sure your ride is a pleasant one. First and foremost that includes a helmet. The birds and bears won't mind how you look, and those rocks are harder than even the most died in the wool anti-helmet wearer's head. As a matter of fact, it's so important we'll list it twice.
Here's what to bring:
- Helmet and riding gloves
- Tool kit, better to carry a kit than carry your bike
- Extra tire tube (or patch kit) and pump, at least one per group
- Matches and a knife are always a good idea
- First aid kit, at least for scrapes and bruises
- Water--lots and lots
- Extra clothes, it gets cool up here
- Rain gear, late summer brings thunderstorms
- Glasses are particularly helpful during the "bug season."