Yes, I know I posted this trail yesterday, but notice that this time it's mtn. biking instead of hiking. This place gets addictive! It's only about 30 miles from my house, too!
Mtn. biking this trail almost deserves a whole new separate page on HAZ, because, since you're not on the hiking trail along the river, but on the old Apache Railroad grade (although it's not the official RR Grade Trail) which is up on the side of the hill, paralleling the hiking trail for about 3 miles. But eventually you end up in a different place, leaving the West Fork of the Black River, still heading more or less south. It really isn't the same trail at all, but it has the same name.
After a few miles it splits at a big metal gate. We took the right fork, just before the gate, which went west, up a creek, which is unnamed on my map. The RR grade is the left fork and goes east and then south. Topo map is Big Lake South 7.5'. (TH is on Big Lake North.)
It was very pretty and it was fun, but not all that challenging if you are a very good rider. It was the first time my husband had actually been mountain biking, in fact, so it's good for beginners. (I would suggest if you are a beginner it wouldn't be your first trail ride, though, due to the altitude of around 8900.) Hubby has a "comfort bike" but it worked fine for this trail, except for a couple of really steep parts, which are very short, so he walked them. These two steep parts are where there used to be a trestle which has been removed.
It's a mostly gradual uphill climb, and on the way back you can get going VERY fast if you want to!
I left my pack behind for some stupid reason and had to ride back, all uphill, to get it, about 2.5 miles! I rode very fast on the way back. So that was fun, too.
I didn't have a map with me, and after about 4 miles from the TH I could see the summit of Baldy was not far off. Then the trail seemed to end at almost 5 miles. I rode a little further, just following a sort of game trail and the road berm started up again. I looked at the map later and saw I would eventually come back out onto FR 116. Since the TH is on 116, I guess a loop could be made, but I don't like riding big gravel roads.
From the time we started down the trail to when we got back to the car WE SAW NO ONE! There are people all over by Big Lake, and on all the gravel roads, hauling boats and trailers, or riding ATVs, but we had this place to ourselves!