Historic Route 66 Mountain Bike Tour


Area Status: Open
Historic Rt 66 Bike-Devil Dog section, 1937

These abandoned sections of America's most famous highway are ideal for sturdy all-terrain bicycles. There are two loop sections, one at the bottom and one at the top of one of the steepest stretches on all of Route 66.

Each loop begins on the original Route 66. Built in 1922, when the science of highway engineering was still in its infancy, this narrow, unpaved roadway twists and turns as it clings close to the canyon wall. Where the roadbed was cut by washes and gullies, local workers built rock-walled culverts to bridge the gap. The return ride on each loop follows the 1932 roadway. The original pavement, crumbling from decades of use, still remains in place.

Concrete culverts and guard rails had become standard features by then. Route 66 was in its heyday during the years that traffic rumbled down this road. Even the improved highway up Ash Fork Hill eventually had to be replaced. In 1950, engineers abandoned this section and built a new, more expensive road straight up the hill. It is now covered by Interstate 40.


Ash Fork Hill segment - Approximate riding time: 60 minutes • 6 miles

This 6-mile-long loop features wide open vistas, with Picacho Peak and Mount Floyd on the western horizon and Bill Williams Mountain to the east. The 1922 section stands in startling contrast to nearby Interstate 40. The rough ride down this road is followed by a smoother, but steep return up the 1932 roadway. You may choose to continue riding north on Forest Road 6 for another 2 miles to Johnson Crater, a huge natural depression. As you ride, you’ll notice clearings in the dense pinyon-juniper woodland. The Forest Service created these in the early 1960s to provide forage for livestock and wildlife. Watch for deer, antelope, jackrabbits, red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, and other wildlife.

Although it’s an average 5,500 feet above sea level, the Ash Fork Hill Tour can be hot during summer months. Wear a hat and use sunscreen.


Devil Dog segment - Approximate riding time: 30 minutes • 5 miles

This 5-mile loop winds through the cool ponderosa pines at the top of Ash Fork Hill. From the parking area, ride south on Forest Road 108 for .3 mile and make a left onto the 1932 alignment (still Forest Road 108). Travel .4 mile on Forest Road 108 and turn onto Forest Road 9223, which is the 1922 roadway. You will need to ride around a “road closed” gate in order to continue on the bike tour.

From this section of the ride, you may decide to choose a challenging side trip on Forest Road 45 to Bixler Mountain. The ride loops back via a 1932 stretch of Route 66 (Forest Road 9217E) from which the pavement has been removed. Notice how engineers had to make deep cuts into the hills in order to provide for a smoother road. The ride then returns to the starting place via Forest Road 108. The origin of the name Devil Dog is lost to history.

The Devil Dog Tour is higher, at 6,500 feet above sea level and, therefore, cooler. These trails may occasionally be inaccessible during winter months because of mud and snow.

Historic Route 66 Mountain Bike Tour-Flyer

Ash Fork Hill and Devil Dog Bicycle Tour-Map

At a Glance

Information Center: Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona at www.azrt66.com

General Information

Directions:

To Ash Fork Hill Bike Tour:

From Williams take I-40 west 12 miles to Exit 151 (Welch Exit). Take Forest Road 6 north to the parking area.

To Devil Dog Bike Tour:

From Williams take I-40 west 6 miles to Exit 157 (Devil Dog Exit). Circle to your right, following the road below the underpass. Turn left onto Forest Road 108. The parking area is immediately on the right.

 


General Notes:

These trails have rough terrain, varying from broken pavement to gravel surfaces. A little trip planning and common sense will make your bike tour both safe and fun!

We recommend the following:

  • Use sturdy, all-terrain mountain bicycles. Make sure they are in good condition before you start your ride.
  • Wear a helmet and leather gloves. A good pair of shatterproof sunglasses will protect your eyes.
  • Carry a tire repair kit, air pump, and necessary tools. Learn how to fix a flat and make other simple repairs.
  • Bring plenty of water! Hot dry weather and high altitude will dehydrate you quickly.
  • Dress should be adaptable to changing mountain weather conditions.
  • Check local weather reports before beginning your trip.
  • Watch for auto and truck traffic. Portions of the tours are on Forest Service roads.
  • Extend common courtesy to all other trail users. Give right of way to hikers and horseback riders. Respect private property.

Activities

Mountain Biking

It is recommended to use sturdy, all-terrain mountain bicycles and that they are in good condition before you start your ride.

Difficulty Level: Easy to Intermediate

Day Hiking

Difficulty Level: Easy

Horse Riding

Difficulty Level: Easy

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities