This is a good ride for after work or for when you don't have time or the legs for an Mt. Elden climb or other local epic. The climbing still offers a good workout in the forest and the descent offers a lot of fun if you can keep your momentum up. Generally smooth trails and relaxed grade make this a good outing for advanced beginners.
This loop uses the Moto and Arizona trails for the ascent, and comes down via Schultz Creek. The ride can be done in either direction, but the more relaxed grade and less rocky Moto/AZ Trails make it a bit easier to do this route clockwise.
From the parking area at the bottom of Schultz Pass Road, head up the valley on the Schultz Creek Trail
. Braided trails diverge and re-connect here, and the general idea is to stick to the valley bottom. At a signed intersection at 0.6 miles turn left, crossing Schultz Pass Road, and then contour west following signs for the Moto Trail. This area is the lower section of the Fort Valley trail system, which can be confusing to navigate. Numerous trail signs with accompanying maps can help you keep your bearings. At 1.7 miles from the start of the ride you should hit a signed intersection with the Moto trail - turn right/uphill.
The Moto Trail ascends gradually through open pines with views of the Peaks. Follow it as far as the signed intersection with the Arizona Trail (mile 3.2). Turn right on the AZ Trail, which contours east and occasionally loses elevation as it dips with the terrain. At a signed intersection, follow the "Equestrian Bypass" (the "Flagstaff Urban Route
" will take you down to Schultz Creek and can be used to shorten the ride). Continue on the AZ Trail until a signed intersection with the Secret Trail
(mile 6.8). Turn right on the Secret Trail
which will cross Schultz Pass Road and dump you in the Sunset
Trail Parking Area.
From here, numerous options can be used to extend the ride (e.g., heading up into the Dry Lake Hills or over to Mt. Elden), but this route follows the signed Schultz Creek Trail
downhill and back to your car. The trail dips and rolls along Schultz Creek (which might be running) through aspen and Douglas fir. Take advantage of the berms and keep an eye out for opportunities to get a little air. This trail flows nicely and has some playful features to exploit.
Schultz Creek is extremely popular with hikers, bikers and dog walkers, so be ready for encounters unless you are riding off-hours.