We woke up early because our bodies were still on Eastern Time. After a quick breakfast at the condo, we drove to Absolute Bikes in Oak Grove. Unfortunately, the bike mechanic explained that the rack we had reserved would not fit on our rented SUV. Instead of a metal frame, the car had a plastic bar across the top of the rear window and would not support the weight of the bikes. We brainstormed ideas for resolving the issue and finally decided to cancel our bike reservations and take our chances with finding a bike in Prescott. Prior to the trip, we decided against renting bikes in Prescott because they would not allow us to make reservations in advance. However, we now had no other option. After driving about 75 minutes to Prescott, I started calling some of the local bike shops. One shop recommended Manzanita Outfitters, which was not listed in the Google search I did prior to our trip. I called Manzinita, and they assured me they could find bikes to accommodate us.
When we got out of our car at Manzanita, we realized the weather had drastically changed; it was windy and significantly colder. Due to the weather and the difficulty in transporting four bikes, the guys decided not to ride. Ed and Ron folded down the back seats and loaded the two bikes for Joyce and me. Ed shuttled us to the Peavine & Iron King trailhead, dropped us off and returned to pick up Ron. At an elevation of 5200 feet, it was 44 degrees and misting rain when Joyce and I started riding. Fortunately, after 10-15 minutes, the rain stopped and blue skies emerged.
The first mile of the crushed red sandstone trail paralleled Watson Lake. At the south side of the lake, we reached the Granite Dells, which geologists estimate are about 1.4 billion years old. The Granite Dells are weathered planar fractures formed by gradual cooling and stressing of a deeply buried molten mass. Needless to say, this site was the highlight of the trail!
Continuing north on the Peavine, we reached a fork in the trail at Mile 3. We decided to follow the left fork that led us two more miles down the valley to the uneventful trail terminus. The loose, deep gravel on this portion of the trail made it slightly difficult to navigate. Upon reaching the end of the trail, we took a quick drink and headed back uphill to the trail junction where we decided to eat our picnic lunch. There was a photo posted near the fork which showed how the train station looked 100 years ago during the height of the copper mining era in this area.
After a quick lunch, we proceeded on the Iron King Trail which led 4 miles downhill to the Prescott Valley. Although our downhill speeds reached 15-16 mph, we realized that our climb back uphill against the grueling 20 mph headwind was not going to be easy. I decided to stop every mile on the return ascent to view the antique train cars and to stretch my legs. The four miles were difficult, but Joyce was a positive encourager 🙂 . When we returned to the junction, we took a short break and called our husbands to let them know that we were only three miles from the parking lot. While we were biking, Ed & Ron had decided to hike out to the Granite Dells and were just returning to the car when we called. The last three miles were an opportunity for us to take photos and soak in the beauty of the Peavine.
As we approached the Dells overlooking Watson Lake, we rode past a snake on the trail. Joyce and I were riding side by side about 3-4 feet apart, and she called out “snake” as we instinctively swerved slightly to avoid it. Curious to know what type of snake it was, Joyce turned around and rode back up the trail. I walked to a safe distance and zoomed in with my camera. It was a 3-foot rattlesnake sunning himself across the middle of the trail!
In a few hundred yards, we approached a man running with his dog. We warned him about the rattlesnake and asked him to take our picture with the Granite Dells in the background. As we reached the parking lot, Ed and Ron greeted us. To prevent making two trips to the rental shop, we managed to fit both bikes and all four of us in the car. I squeezed underneath one of the handlebars in the rear of the car, and Joyce propped herself in a small spot adjacent to the bikes. The guys sat in the front seats as we drove back to Manzinita to return the bikes.
We left Prescott about 2:00 PM and decided to take the scenic route on 89A back to Sedona. The highway passed through Mingus Wilderness Area and reached an elevation exceeding 7,000 feet. To our delight, we passed through Jerome, a European-style town built on the side of a mountain. The road made several horseshoe turns as it descended past shops and hotels clambering with tourists.
Approaching West Sedona, we decided to hike the Devil’s Bridge Trail before returning to our condo. We hiked 1.2 miles on the Chuck Wagon approach trail through an open forest of cedar and pinion pine trees. Yucca plants, wildflowers and cacti were prevalent on this portion of the trail. We hiked through a long, wide arroyo before reaching the Devil’s Bridge Trailhead. The next .7 mile of the trail was slightly rocky and uphill. We planned to take the fork which led underneath Devil’s Bridge, but we never saw a marker for the turn; therefore, we embarked on a series of steep steps leading up and over the arch.
The somewhat treacherous climb was rewarded by the spectacular view of Devil’s Bridge at the top. We took turns having our photos taken on the bridge before starting the descent down the steep staircase. Ed, Ron, and I decided to sit on our butts and slide down the steps. Joyce used a different strategy of backing down the staircase while holding onto the rocks directly in front of her. Thankful for returning to level ground, we swiftly made our way back down the trail to the car.
Famished and exhausted, we resolved to return to our condo for hot showers before dinner. We called to make reservations at Javalina Café for a late supper. After a typical American Mexican meal, we drove back to Vista Ridge and collapsed into our beds.