Playa Ponderosa (Mormon Lake Option)

Development Route / by JoshV

Note: This is a Development Route, meaning that it is a work in progress and currently does not meet the Dirty Freehub 5 Star standard for great routes.

There is a derivation of the Playa Ponderosa route with an side quest around Mormon Lake. I believe this could be a beautiful addition to the route, but I did not have time to fully investigate this option. (Thus, the Development Route designation.) I have mapped it out such that the route uses a primitive dirt road along the east side of the lake from the Highway 3 viewpoint onward.

Before the viewpoint, you will need to ride a short stretch of highway. This avoids a section of private property. (Please respect private property rights.) Somewhere near the viewpoint, you will need to “hike a bike” down to the dirt road. (I did not scope this out!)

I recommend the clockwise direction. It will make the turns on and off the Highway much easier. This is the way I have mapped it out. And … if you do this route, please leave a comment below with what your found / experienced.

Adventure / Gravel Route

Lollipop: 54 miles / 2700 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 80% gravel, 10% dirt-primitive road, 10% paved
eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: ~ Flagstaff, AZ
– Published: October 2020

Technical Difficulty & Risk[what this means]

Moderate– (Overall)

  • Technical Riding Difficulty: Easier+
    The roads are beautiful and smooth.
  • Navigation Challenge & Risk: Moderate–
    There are a number of turns, a wrong turn to the south can put you deep into the National Forest.
  • Remote Risk: Moderate-
    The area is at the urban / rural boundary of Flagstaff. Most of the ride has cell phone access.

When we like to ride this …

This route should be ideal from April through September. Spring can be spectacular when the lake has water and the colors are vibrant.

The Start

Raymond County park. Flush Toilets. Water.
Lat / Long: 35.091999, -111.687788

Alternative Start:
Dirt pull out at the start of FS 700. This avoids the Kachina Village congestion, but has no restroom facilities.
Lat / Long: 35.088948, -111.682957

Go Local

Kachina Village, at the start, has a convenience store and such. But if you’re looking for a more local vide, check out the small town of Mountainaire, just a mile and a half east [from the start] on Mountainaire Road. They have a country store and a tavern! (There may even be a way to start from here and take gravel / dirt roads to the route via a connection at the end of Osage street.)

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.


Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road

Ride Details

Food / Water

At Mormon Lake Lodge at ~ mile 30; they have a convenience store with water, gatorade, etc.

Ride Notes

40 mm tires are more than adequate for most of the route. There will be a bit of challenging chunk on Fire Road 556 for 4.5 miles.

I recommend a red blinky light as there is some traffic along the route, especially if you do the longer option.

You may encounter logging activity on the route. Our strategy is to stop, wave, and let the big trucks pass by safely.

This has become quite a popular road for OHV travel and you will likely cross paths with more than a few during your travels. I recommend riding with a mask or neck gaiter to minimize dust inhalation.

Ridden and Reviewed by …

JoshV / Team Dirty Freehub

I was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan but now call the Valley of the Sun home. When I’m not riding, I enjoy reading, golf, camping, and spending time with family and friends. Always looking towards the next adventure and exploring more of the Southwest!

Scroll to Top