Whether you are a touring cyclist or a mountain biker, our roads and trails will supply new challenges!
A major tour bike route through Greenlee County is the Adventure Cycling Association’s Southern Tier (Section 2) Route. This segment is all on US Highway 70 (The Old West Highway) traveling east-west through the southern part of the county. This segment is all high desert except the few miles that goes through the Gila River valley and Duncan, AZ. For more information see, http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/southern-tier/, and http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=1mr&page_id=145759&v=LY.
Other biking trips branch off from US Highway 70.
One of these is the Virden Loop Route. Starting in Duncan, AZ travel southeast on Highway 70 a few miles into New Mexico until the NM Hwy 92 junction. Take Hwy 92 (aka Virden Road) to loop back through Virden, NM and then back to Duncan. This is a pleasant 26 mile trip through river valley, high desert, and farm land with only one steep climb. See Virden Loop Route map.
Another popular route is the ride to Black Jack Campground (and back). This is a more difficult route that has a significant climb the last few miles up to Black Jack Campground. Be sure to take water with you because Black Jack is a dry campground, although it is in a pine forest above the desert. Take Arizona Highway 75 out of Duncan traveling north-northwest until you reach Three-Way. Then turn right onto Arizona Highway 78 and follow that to the campground.
A third option is to ride the Ward Canyon Road that starts just as you enter the south side of Clifton. Exit west off Coronado Boulevard (US 191), near MP 162. The road immediately U-turns under the US 191 overpass to head east up the canyon. This route is only a little over 3 miles, but the incline, curves, rock formations, and views make this a memorable ride. You can make a loop by continuing on Ward Canyon Rd to Skyline View Rd. Turn right and continue to US 191. Turn right again and ride back into Clifton. (Be aware that there is no shoulder on US 191 coming down Smelter Hill into Clifton, and there are times of moderately high traffic and heavy trucks.)
The ultimate option is to ride AZ Highway 75 to Three-Way, but continue straight at the intersection intercepting US Highway 191. This is the Coronado Trail National Scenic Byway. In about 8 miles you can stop in either Clifton or Morenci, AZ, but from there no services exist for 69 miles until you reach the Hannagan Meadow Lodge. However, there are numerous picnic and campgrounds along the highway (See Outdoor Adventures > Scenic Byways > Coronado Trail National Scenic Byway). This route is a real challenge and commitment. From Clifton, at 3,000 ft, you will climb to over 9,000 ft at Hannagan Meadow. Be aware that there is little shoulder to use on most of this road, but the traffic is light. Also, there is a lot of wildlife that may be along (or on) the road. One also might consider starting In Alpine, AZ (about 20 miles beyond Hannagan Meadow) and riding this trail from the top down. Also see: http://www.azbikeped.org/downloads/DOT-Cycle-Arizona-Bicycle-User-Map-1.pdf
Many forest roads and biking trails throughout Greenlee County will provide excellent biking adventures!
If you are in the Clifton/Morenci area, try the Kiko Walk and Bike Trail between the two towns that is maintained by Freeport McMoran, Inc. (the copper company that owns Morenci). The trail used to be a railroad bed to the Morenci mine. You can find the trailhead traveling north on US 191 in Clifton by taking the first available left after crossing the San Francisco River bridge (Riverside Dr.), climb up the hill and take a left on Shannon Rd. In about 3/4 mile, look for Copper Verde Ln on the right. About 0.6 mile up Copper Verde Ln take the turnout on the right to the parking lot and trailhead.
The Black Hills Backcountry Byway also lends itself to a 21 mile dirt bike/mountain bike experience during which you can travel desert, riparian, and mountain environments! (Also see Outdoor Adventures > Scenic Byways > Black Hills Backcounty Byway for more information.)
Numerous biking trails exist along the Coronado Trail (US 191) between Clifton, AZ and Alpine, AZ. These include:
Pleasant Valley Trail #24
Painted Bluff Trail #13
Cave Canyon Tail #10
Frye Trail #12
Spur Cross Trail #8
HL Canyon Trail #11
Horse Canyon Trail #36
Bear Springs Trail #19
Hot Air Trail #15
War Finance Trail #9
Warren Canyon Trail #48
Chitty Trail #37
East Eagle Trail #33
Crabtree Trail #22
Highline Trail #47
McBride Mesa Trail #26
Horseshoe Cienega/Hannagan Meadow Loop #4
Clell Lee Loop Trail #24
See Outdoor Adventures > Scenic Byways > Coronado Trail National Scenic Byway for more information about how to find these trails. Also see: http://www.singletracks.com/Arizona-bike-trails_4.html
Local cyclists use Strava. (http://www.strava.com ) You may be able to access their routes and stories there.
Carlisle Mining District Area – Cyclists looking for a dirt road challenge may be interested in the Carlisle Road heading northeast toward Steeple Rock off AZ 75 in North Duncan.
Motorcycles (Coronado Trail Runs)
Greenlee County welcomes thousands of motorcycles throughout our almost year-long riding season. Run the legendary Coronado Trail Scenic Highway (US 191), aka “The Devil’s Highway” (Old Route 666). Get inspired with hundreds of hairpin turns and switchbacks. The Coronado Trail leads travelers from high desert landscapes to evergreen forests (or vice versa), so the views are ever-changing and as beautiful as they are varied. Consider making “The Loop.” Start in Clifton and head north on the Trail to Alpine, Arizona. Turn right on US 180 which loops back around south through New Mexico. Turn on Hwy 78 toward Mule Creek and continue through mountains and down switchbacks to Three-Way. At Three-Way turn right on US 191 back to Clifton. (Or reverse the course.) Lodging, camping, and RV sites are available throughout the county.