Camp Wood 40
JeffW, our leading route designer in the Southwest is a real “stickler” for routes that have a high visual payback. This route exemplifies just that … beauty over continuously changing terrain.
Rolling grasslands. Pinyon-juniper woodlands. A bold burn area. Ponderosa forests. // Wide open gravel roads. Small, twisty forest service roads. // Rolling hills. A long, moderate climb. A series of surprise “poppers”. A 12 mile downward trending finish.
You park where the pavement ends on Williamson Valley road, right where you hit dirt. There’s a pseudo parking area on the left. Off in the distance, to the east, are the San Francisco Peaks, and with a little luck they will be easy to spot because they are snow capped. On your return, they will be your cue that you are on the downward trending flats and close to finishing. // Read More
The first ten miles is a nice warm up, big, wide open views with “lickety split” gravel roads with an upward trend. Total cruiser roads. The route skirts the famous Las Vegas Ranch which was first homesteaded in 1864. At mile 3.5 the open grasslands give way to Pinyon-juniper woodlands, very near the boundary to Prescott National Forest.
At ~ mile 10, a two step climb into the Santa Maria mountains begins. 1000 feet of gain over 4 miles. As you crest the first step, you will see the remnants of the Stubbs fire of 2018 in front of you. We loved the stair stepping nature of the climb, nothing was ever super steep.
As you crest over the top, through the burn, you dip down and then bump back up. And then down again. Be aware at mile 15.5 there is sneaky right turn. There is a sign of some sorts for Camp Wood, an old cavalry post during the territorial days territorial days (1863-1912). Note, if you miss the turn, you will end up in Bagdad. Bagdad, Arizona that is.
Now the fun begins (at least for us, it was really fun). The road is “path like”, with twists and turns through the Ponderosa forest. Get ready for several stream crossings. We had four. We rode or did the “hop a rock” to get through them. Our experience is from an early November ride, after a good rain storm several days before. For your ride, we really have no clue. They could be dried up washes or you could be swimming across the Mississippi River. It all depends. Ahh … the adventure of gravel.
The “path like” road rolls and bumps along, mainly downhill with some “poppers” along the way. Some steep “poppers”. From the elevation profile, it looks like this section of the ride through the Ponderosa forest and beyond, should be fast and easy. It was not. It was … Rugged. Remote. Primitive. And steep. Kickers up to 14%.
When you reach a nice overlook, just before a steep, switchbacked downhill, you are almost done with the slower riding section (at least for us, it was slower). When the terrain transitions to a mix of grasslands and oak trees, you are close to the turn onto Walnut Creek Cutoff road (~ mile 26.4).
From here, it is rolling and undulating for the next 5 miles. Then it is all downward trending and fast! You are now on the Williamson Valley road. It is a big, wide, gravel road with a bit more traffic, mostly pick up trucks. We hit some washboard, then it smoothed out. (It all depends, depends on what exactly we aren’t really sure!)
We documented the route riding in the clockwise direction, but we believe it would ride good in both directions. If you do the counterclockwise direction, please leave a comment below.
40 mm tires worked really well on this route.
JeffW is also working two other routes in the Camp Wood area that we hope to post later this spring. Stay tuned!
Adventure / Gravel Route
– Loop: 43 miles / 3200 ft gain
– Surface: 100% gravel
– eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: ~ 35 min northwest of Prescott, Arizona
– Published: January 2020
Moderate. Due to the distance and elevation gain. There are several sections of rough road, but the technical demand is not significant.
When we like to ride this …
Spring, Summer, and Fall. Spring and Fall have exceptional colors and lighting. If it has recently rained, give it several days to let the roads dry, they are of a clay base and can turn into super sticky mud. (Winter is a possibility if the hills are clear of snow. The route tops out at a maximum elevation of nearly 6000 feet.)
A dirt pull out on the south side Camp Wood road (FS 21) at the intersection of Williamson Valley road (FS 6).
Lat / Long: 34.832349, -112.647673
Food / Water
Brown = gravel / dirt road
For help with GPS files, the RideWithGPs mapping app and to learn how to download our routes for free, see the “Using Our Rides” page.