Mountain Biking at Dead Horse Ranch
We headed up to Cottonwood today and we ditched the Transit for the Ram truck, because today I get to ride the trails on my bike. Dead Horse Ranch is the park of choice for this trip and the drive was not bad at all. A real short jaunt outside of the historic downtown Cottonwood and you are at the entrance to the park. We stopped into the Ranger’s Station/Gift Shop for a quick chat and headed out into the park.
The weather couldn’t have been any more perfect as we parked and got all the gear unloaded. There is heaps of parking around the lagoons and is pretty shaded by surrounding trees. We quickly met up with the park manager, Ranger George, who is one heck of a guy and quite the outdoorsman. After introductions and such we started to scope out which trail we were going to get on first. We all decided to take George’s advice and give the Kish Trail a go.
It was a quick ride down the road from the west lagoon to the Kish Trailhead. The Kish Trail is a pretty short downhill section that brings you right back to the Ranger’s Station at the entrance of the park. The trail was pretty narrow and the soil had been washed out quite deep down the center of it, making it a bit interesting to navigate in a 3-wheeled mountain bike. I made it to the bottom with a smile on my face and stayed rubber side down the whole way. The last bit of the trail is flat and very narrow, but I was advised that the weeds alongside the trail were non-native and I was ok to roll over them. So, in a way I am doing my part to help get rid of invasive species of plants, however small of a part it may be.
We rode back into the park and tested out a couple short flat trails. The Forest Loop Trail is a flat half mile with some nice woodsy views. The trail starts out covered in mulch that is not too tough by chair, but be prepared to work for it. Just take it slow and steady. The Canopy Trail is a short, flat loop into the woods to a fun sitting spot with a picnic table under a big canopy tree and a few bird feeders. The trail itself is made of a stabilized decomposed granite with rocks lining the edges that make it very smooth to roll on.
We were even able to wander around the Cabin Loop a bit and check out the cabins they have for reservation. All but one of the cabins have paved paths right up to the front door and the restrooms/showers are very close. There are even multiple handicap parking spots within the loop.
If cabins aren’t your thing, there are a multitude of RV and tent camping sites throughout the park. Some of them are even equipped with elevated tent platforms so that you don’t have to pitch your tent on the ground and sleep at ground level. The camp spots even have elevated campfire rings, wheelchair accessible picnic tables, the works.
I mentioned the lagoons earlier and they are a great spot to just sit and watch the wildlife or even fish if you like. Each of the three lagoons have multiple accessible fishing piers that you can roll out on.