Bikepacking the Black Canyon Trail

by Lani Bruntz May 31, 2017

The Kitsbow Van Team, joined by friends Dylan Stucki and Sarah Strum, snuck away for a desert escape following the Sedona Bike Festival. The crew tackled the 80-mile Black Canyon Trail meandering through the foothills of the Bradshaw Mountains, just north of Phoenix, Arizona. They loaded their bikes for a leisurely three day tour to soak up the sunshine and get their legs spinning again. Let’s catch up with Lani and Jordan.

Words by Lani Bruntz. Photos by Dylan Stucki, Jordan Carr & Lani Bruntz

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PC: Dylan Stucki

“The Sonoran Desert vibrated with yellow, red, purple and white wildflowers amongst the towering saguaro and blooming barrel cactus. A healthy southwest winter had replenished the thirsty desert. With this vibrancy came the risk of four potentially impassable river crossings. Just days before setting out for the 80-mile stretch of Black Canyon Trail, flooding had swollen some of the river crossings to be 9 feet high. Anticipating an early turnaround, we loaded our bikes and hoped for the best on a Friday afternoon. The warm forecasts, clear skies and green hills was a promising sight.

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PC: Dylan Stucki

After riding sections of the Black Canyon Trail in the past, I had low expectations for the first section of the trail. But after a healthy winter, the desert was almost unrecognizable. The lushness had me awestruck. We pedaled away from the car, happy to be in shorts with minimal layers in tow.

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PC: Dylan Stucki

The Black Canyon Trail offers a unique opportunity to ride an 80 mile ribbon of singletrack through the foothills of the Bradshaw Mountains. It can be tackled in one rough and long day on the bike, or enjoyed at a more leisurely pace, broken up with nights sleeping out under the night sky. We dedicated two nights, with one full day and two half days of riding, to milk our time in the desert.

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PC: Lani Bruntz

Bikepacking provides the freedom to ride as much or as little as desired, with everything needed to sleep and dine along the way. With strategic packing and the right gear, bikes can handle the extra weight extremely well.

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 PC: Lani Bruntz

With tires rolling shortly before 3pm on Friday, we settled for a camp spot about 25 miles into the trail for a cozy night of sleep under the full moon.

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PC: Dylan Stucki

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PC: Jordan Carr

Conquering the first river crossing not only gave us hope that the next three would be doable, but more importantly, it allowed us to make it to Rock Springs for fresh pie.

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PC: Jordan Carr

Some might consider the famed Rock Spring Pie Shop a detour, but for us it was strategic route planning. After a slight setback a few miles before our first river crossing – we lost the trail in the heat of the day – our treats at the Pie Shop were well-earned and delicious.

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PC: Dylan Stucki

We caught some prime light pedaling away from the pie shop. But after overdoing it on milk shakes, pie cinnamon rolls and Budweiser, we all opted to call it a day.

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PC: Dylan Stucki

Our camp on the second night gave us a spectacular view of the rising full moon.

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PC: Jordan Carr

Waking up to hot coffee with good friends yielded big smiles.

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PC: Lani Bruntz

One last look at the Saguaro before the final few miles of trail.

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PC: Dylan Stucki

 

On Sunday afternoon we emerged, rejuvenated from pedaling through the super bloom and sleeping under a full moon. The combination of quality time with friends, a sense of adventure and some quality time back on two wheels had replenished my soul. Trips like this make me realize how much you can tackle in a weekend.

 

Where will they go next? Find our Vanbassadors’ itinerary online and don’t forget to follow us on IG.




Lani Bruntz
Lani Bruntz

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