The weather was so nice that a couple of my buddies and I decided to take a day for a guys ride on some of the tougher trails in the Martinez Mine area about 60 miles south/east of Phoenix AZ. This area has a lot of old mine roads that have now turned into 4x4 trails. When I was new to the area I used to seek out Jeep websites and trail books to find out where the hardcore trails were. I’ve had a lot of fun in this area over the years.
There were only 3 of us; Jim would be on his Suzuki 450 Motorcycle, insane Zane on his Can-Am 800 Outlander with PitBull Rocker tires and me on my Polaris Sportsman 500 fitted with DWT Moapa tires. We are all very familiar with the area so on this rare occasion, we didn’t have a set trail route planned. With only three of us we did, however, know we were going to cover a good amount of ground.
We started out at one of our old standby warm up spots on a trail called Lower Woodpecker. This is just a huge boulder strewn wash where you have to be on the correct line or you could be in trouble in a hurry. Of course Jim on his motorcycle just went right up the middle around the rocks.
Zane and I had more fun as we had both ends of our quad in the air more than a few times.
Right next to the area we are riding in up on the rock face are some ancient Indian pictographs. I am always amazed at how many places I have seen Indian pictographs around our beautiful state.
A little further up the trail Zane tried to wedge his machine between 2 rather large boulders. We have done this many times in the past but today was a different story.
Fortunately he is so darn strong he just stepped off and pushed his quad back to the ground.
After running Lower Woodpecker we made a short turn onto another trail named Ajax. There are two sections to this trail, a lower and an upper. The lower section is mostly a desert wash and is pretty mild with a few boulder crawls along the way.
The upper section is not one to shake a stick at. Many vehicles end up turning around at some of the difficult obstacles. Large boulders lead to big steep rock climes and waterfalls. If you make it to the end you end up right at the base of the Ajax mine.
The lower section was a breeze for us. Running up and down desert wash trails can be a lot of fun. In the upper section Zane ‘s Rockers still found plenty of bite, even with over 4,600 very tough miles on them. Well at least most of the time they did. Here is a photo of him totally high centered. I guess you can’t blame the tires for not getting traction if they aren’t touching the ground.
There is a big rock pile just before the first waterfall in Upper Ajax where you have to get some momentum to climb up and over the rocks. Zane made it look easy but for some reason I just could not get lined up very well and had to make several attempts to make it up and over. It is amazing how a few inches one way or the other make such a big difference in making it or not. I persevered and finally made it over to the next big obstacle thanks to the grip from my DWT Moapa’s.
Near the top of this short trail there are 2 steep waterfalls you have to go up before coming out at the mine. Jim made it up the first one but even he had to put a foot down half way up. These waterfalls sometimes have flowing water and sometimes are completely dry. When there is any bit of water it can get very slippery.
After watching Jim slip and slide part way up the first waterfall I decided it was a good idea to have him spot me. I made it up the first hump fine but it got a little hairy at the top when I was getting over one of the last large rocks. I ended up conquering it but man I missed the power steering on the Polaris 850XP.
After conquering the second waterfall, (Whew! and YEAH!!!) all three of us were still looking for more and since it was still early we decided to go take on one of the toughest trails in the area. It is appropriately named Highway to Hell. I have done this trail a few times and it can be a bugger if you don’t have the right people along. This is not a trail for the faint of heart or someone that is worried about putting a scratch on their machine.
Here is a photo from the top as we are going down the trail rather than up it. It is the wash you can see snaking between the mountains. It actually looks so peaceful from this view, we will soon find out it is anything but….
We dropped into the top of the trail at one of the nasty waterfalls. I’m sure the Jeep guys have fun here but we do not have a long enough wheel base so we went around this time.
No more than about 400 yards into the trail around a few turns and came upon 4 jeeps. One of them (a specialized buggy) was broke down. There was no way round him in this section of the trail, it’s just too narrow.
After a short time they figured out what was wrong and started climbing up the obstacle we had just came down. (Frankly I think they were very surprised to see quads and a motorcycle on this trail) It was fun watching the jeeps go up the steep climb. They were definitely built for this type of terrain.
This guy just happened to have radial LT PitBull Rocker tires on his Jeep. He took a very extreme line up the rock face and was able to get enough traction to claw his way to the top.
Here is kind of a fun photo I took of one of the Jeeps. I found a setting Photoshop that distorted the colors to make it like a cartoon.
After the Jeeps passed us we could get back on the trail. This trail drops in elevation very quickly. There is one drop off after another and it is full of huge boulders. This is why we opted to come down the trail rather than up. (I have gone up before and it is a ton more work.)
Finally we made it to the double waterfall (yes more waterfalls!) which is nearing the end of this trail. I asked Jim if he would just spot me again as I went down. Well as you can see from the photo Jim was paying no attention to me. He was focused on finding a line so he could attempt going back up both falls on his motorcycle... I guess I really didn’t need a spotter after all.
Sure enough as soon as I was at the bottom Jim was on his bike headed up the falls. They are so close together it is hard to keep enough momentum to make it up both at the same time but he made it fine. It is amazing how photos just do not do this area justice as the walls are much higher and steeper than they look.
Well Zane could not let Jim have all the fun. Zane spun around after the next big drop off and shot right back up it. He was giggling as he nailed the throttle sailing to the top. This is one of the reasons we call him Insane Zane. The harder the obstacle is, the more he giggles.
With the end of Highway to Hell in sight we had to make a decision as to which way to get back to the staging area. We could either go out to the main trail and take it back or continue on Upper Woodpecker. We opted for Upper Woodpecker as they were both about the same distance and Woodpecker was more fun than being on a somewhat smooth road.
We rolled through this last trail pretty fast until we came on a spot with about 10 jeeps coming up the trail. Fortunately there was just enough room for us to be able to make our way around all the jeeps.
Back safe and sound at the staging area all three of us were amazed at the amount of ground we had covered. What a fun day riding in the deserts south east of Phoenix AZ. No break downs and no flat tires. I am always amazed that any tire can hold up to the kind of abuse we put them through in a day’s ride.
Remember to always wear your safety gear as bad things can happen in a blink of an eye and always buy your tires and wheels for all of your vehicles at Discount Tire Direct.
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