We are riding the Western Wildlands Route (WWR) on bicycles northbound and started at the AZ / Mexican border a couple weeks ago. Since we are tackling the route northbound, “Segment 8” is our second segment.
Click here to read our first segment – Segment 9.
We left our lovely hotel room in Globe prepared for a big day of climbing knowing we were leaving the desert floor behind and heading up to higher elevation. The road out of town brought us around Roosevelt Lake, and we began climbing immediately. It was another day of abundant sunshine beaming down on us as we slowly climbed a paved road up the Sierra Ancha mountains. By mid-afternoon, towering pine trees replaced saguaro cacti providing much appreciated shade. We reached the top just in time to pitch the tent for the night.
Our day began with nearly 15 miles of descent into the tiny town of Young. We resupplied and weren’t surprised to find out our day would once again be filled with climbing. The paved road out of town soon became dirt as we pedaled up the Mogollan Rim thankful for the shade and cooler temperatures. If you’re looking for a place to bring a camper, look no further. The area had countless spots to pull off and park out in the national forest with incredible views off the rim. We bookmarked this one for future van life.
How can a day with so much downhill riding still have 3700 ft of gain? Who knows, but we still had a marvelous day. We finished our long stretch of mixed ascents and descents on the rim and headed down to the tiny town of Happy Jack to resupply in their gas station. We pushed on riding dirt in what felt like the literal middle of nowhere. Suddenly, we were zooming down a canyon as the sun was about to set. We thankfully found a campsite at about the last second possible before it was dark and eagerly awaited the morning.
We knew we had a big day of climbing ahead of us, but it was made a little easier knowing we were just outside of Sedona for morning coffee, and we were aiming to end our day in a hotel room in Flagstaff. After properly caffeinating, we headed out for the ride.
Wow, our first time in Sedona was such a treat. Just outside of town, we hit a gravel trail designed for hikers and bikers surrounded by stunning red rock formations. The 3 mile trail left us all smiles but was over in a flash. We were tempted to do the trail over again but knew there was more work to be done.
Onward through town, we headed up a canyon and the paved road once again turned to dirt, this time full of chunky rocks. Our pace wasn’t much faster than walking, but we managed to cycle up, up, up with incredible views and cheers from the tourists on jeep tours that passed us. We were grateful the trail mellowed out, but we still had dozens of gravel miles ahead of us. The afternoon dragged on as I eagerly awaited a shower in town, but I filled the time with podcasts and enjoyed the ride. Eventually we made it to Flagstaff thrilled for a day off.
We left the hotel room and headed towards Humphrey’s Peak that towers over Flagstaff. Climbing began immediately as we made our way around the stunning mountain. As we climbed the east side, we entered an area that had burn damage and encountered our first section of blown down trees, lifting our bikes over and dipping under the tree carcasses discarded like pick-up sticks.
At about 9,000 ft, we started to head down the mountain. The terrain was a mix of dirt road and our first significant stretch of single track as the WWR coincided with a dreamy section of the Arizona Trail. We finished our day just as the sun was setting with Humphrey Peak far in the distance.
The first half of our day was, you guessed it, climbing. But thankfully, we enjoyed the mellow grade as the sun was rising that brought us up to Grandview Tower. We stopped to enjoy the view and prepared for the easy 12 miles ahead to the East entrance of Grand Canyon National Park. By noon, we arrived at the park and greeted the canyon in awe of its depth and beauty, happy to take it in from a new vantage point. After hiking rim to rim on the Arizona Trail and our additional one day double crossing, the Grand Canyon has become a very special place for us – one we will continue to come back to over and over. This spot marks the end of Segment 8.
Wow, this segment had no shortage of climbing. During the six days of riding Segment 8, we averaged about 4800 ft of elevation gain and 65 miles of riding each day.
When we left Globe, we left the depths of the desert floor behind and headed into towering Ponderosa pine forests. Tiny towns dot the 200 miles between Globe and Sedona. The entire segment from Globe to the Grand Canyon averaged 70 miles between food and water resupply, 2 of those resupplies were at gas stations or small town markets.
Our first time in Sedona was epic, and we can’t wait to go back for future van life. The rock formations and rich colors were absolutely mesmerizing and distracted us from the challenging climb heading towards Flagstaff. From the Crested Saguaro to the pine forests and red rock canyons, I’d call Segment 8 a tour of the highlights and diversity of Arizona.
We’re working hard, having a blast, and are excited to continue our journey north on the WWR!
(miles and elevation gain tracked with Strava)
Click here to see our first segment – Segment 9
Join us here, on Instagram, or Facebook as we tackle the Western Wildlands Route (WWR) by bicycle. We have another month to see how much of the 2700 mile route we can get done.
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Hey! Awesome blog – thanks for documenting. I’m looking for a route to ride in late April. Do you think Segment 8 is doable of gravel bikes? 650b 48mm tires… Cheers!
Hey Jamie, thanks for reading, and I hope the info is helpful! A lot of Segment 8 would be fine on that bike, but the section outside of Sedona would be really tough as it’s super steep and chunky. For the WWR, mountain bikes are recommended or something with at least 2 inch tires. Hope you’re able to get out there!