Peavine & Iron King Rails to Trails, Prescott, Arizona

Rock-Lined Trail

Rock-Lined Trail

Since Martha is doing a great job recounting our activities in addition to the bike trails and since my role is more of a commentator than a reporter, I’m going to focus my comments only on the actual bike rides for this Southwest bike trip. As she mentioned, this was the first time we have had logistical problems with bike rentals and fortunately found Manzanita Cyclery in Prescott from which we rented the bikes but couldn’t rent a bike rack. Ron and Ed graciously gave up this ride when we didn’t have room in the van for two more bikes (besides, it was raining lightly as we rented the bikes), so it was just the two of us on this trail. What I thought was going to be one of the prettiest rides in terms of immediate scenery because I thought we’d be seeing a lot of the red rocks like those surrounding Sedona, Arizona, which is about 50 miles east of Prescott, it didn’t turn out that way. Granted, we did see some red rock formations on the trail, but mostly it was the Granite Dells on the Peavine that provided the beauty for us. Along this trail we felt “closed in” and protected by the “hills of rocks” on each side of the trail. They weren’t red, but they were plentiful, were smoothly rounded out from erosion, and had interesting total shapes the way they all ended up together beside Watson Lake and along the sides of the trail. At the junction was a small collection of high red rock buttes that matched the sandstone of the trail, aptly named on our trail map as “Point of Rocks.” One of our great photos is with the Dells and the lake edge in the background. This is the one we sent to Rails-to-Trails magazine.

WIldflowers along Trail

Wild Flowers along Trail

The trail itself was crushed red sandstone, mostly packed, but a few places were not solid and so gave us a bit of a challenge to stay going straight and not have the front wheel slide and thus fall. This meant that in those places we needed to go a little more slowly and keep our eyes consistently on the trail ground in front of us rather than going fast and/or doing a lot of looking around. Amenities along the trail were good: occasional benches were strategically placed for resting (which we didn’t use but they could have come in handy for walkers), a bike rack for locking the bike up where we could follow a foot trail through the Dells and over closer to the lake, a picnic bench at the trail junction where we ate our lunch, some pictures on signs at the historic junction with the Iron King, and what was especially favorable for me was a clean, ok-smelling porta-potty near the junction. We saw lots of wild flowers, which I cannot name, but they were colorful to see as we rode along. Pink and white ones are what I remember the most. A prairie dog scurried across the trail a couple of times, and the rattle snake sunning on the trail brought excitement to the ride, since Martha is so afraid of snakes. (Not that I would even consider picking one up, but I’ve just learned to observe and keep my distance without being panicked over them.)

Joyce beside Antique Rail Car

Joyce beside Antique Rail Car

We decided that we actually rode beyond the actual trail end of the Peavine, and this last mile beyond the parking lot was not well kept up at all, but that’s our consequence for going to the very end, a rather uneventful ending at a fence by the bridge they are currently building. (We had met another biker on the trail who told us how far we could ride on the trail and warned us about the abrupt ending.) So at the bridge we turned around and headed back to the junction with the Iron King. (The two trails are shaped like a Y, with the Peavine and the Iron King seemingly sharing the base of the Y.) Around this time, the winds started picking up, and so in addition to a slight incline on the Peavine return ride, we had the headwinds against us, which was a bit challenging. I like the wind in my face when I create the wind with my speed, not when it’s a wind going against my direction of travel. Anyway, we made it back to the junction for our lunch break and then turned left to follow the Iron King. We had read that the connection was not very clear, but I suppose that was written before someone nicely connected the two trails so that you didn’t even notice the difference if it weren’t for the sign indicating the Iron King. The junction was where the mountain had been blasted, so that the trail went through a narrower opening. Both trails were pretty isolated from auto traffic, except at the ends of both, where the trails ended at parking lots on fairly major roads.

SF Rail Sign

SFP&P Rail Sign

I never did figure out how that trail got the name “Peavine.” If I remember correctly, all the old signage we saw was for the Santa Fe, Prescott, and Phoenix railroads (S.F.P.P.) The Iron King, on the other hand, was obviously an old mining railroad line, as the creators of the trail had left about four or five old mining railroad cars parked along the trail on one section, about a mile apart. They were interesting to see. Once on the Iron King, the environment began to open up, out of the rocks and crushed red sandstone, and into more of a desert and cattle grazing area with a dirt and crushed gravel trail and low mountains in the near distance. We could see tumbleweed, property line chain link fences, lots of sagebrush, and some other bushes and trees growing in the fields to the right and the left. This was also a pleasant slight downhill ride, which was fun going down, but rather strenuous going back up, in addition to still having the breeze (felt like a real wind) blowing against us. (What I thought would be the easiest of all our rides because it was so short—10 miles each way—was modified by the wind.)

Although the beginning of the ride started out in cold rain, which after fifteen or twenty minutes had moved on, by the time we finished, we had removed at least two layers of outer clothing down to our shirt sleeves, both because the wind had died down a bit and we were back in the protected area of the Dells, and because we had exerted a lot of energy combatting the wind blowing against us most of the way back. Even our legs were a bit sore from this short ride, something I didn’t at all expect.

When we finished, we were greeted by Ron and Ed walking the trail back from the Dells. It was a fun ride and different from anything we have yet completed.

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