14 November 2010


A lot's been said, and believe it or not, even more's been done, about wildcat trail-building in Sedona, Arizona.

What's a wildcat trail?  A wildcat trail is a trail that somebody made (or sometimes found) without anyone's permission that goes somewhere (usually somewhere cool or essential) where previously there wasn't a trail.  Often they're pretty well-hidden, like any good secret.  And likewise, information about their location often spreads by word-of-mouth.  Nine times out of ten, they're right where you always thought, "Man, it would be so cool if there was a trail there."

Typically they're not especially well-built, sensible, or sustainable.  Often they simply follow the path-of-least resistance to their destination.  But because they receive far less traffic than sanctioned, system trails, this usually isn't that big a deal.

I'll tell you right now: I, for one, am a proponent of this sort of improvised, experimental, nonsanctioned, nonsystem social trail.  And I don't really care how you feel about them... unless, of course, you are a proponent of them as well.  As you should be.  Because pretty much every trail that you love, if it wasn't built by volunteers in the last 10 years probably began as a wildcat trail.  Or a road.

But, as I've already said, typically wildcat trails are not especially well-built or sustainable. However, some are.

Hangover, in Sedona, is one wildcat trail that's definitely in that latter category.  No mere social trail, Hangover is an unbelievably well-scouted, built, and maintained trail.  It is, in a nutshell, someone's life-work, his (or her) crowning achievement.  Hands-down, it's the most solidly constructed, bold, sustainable, challenging, frightening, thrilling, clever wildcat trail I've ever had the pleasure to ride in all my years on a bike.

I got to ride it today, for the very first time, with my friend Joe (aka Rockman).  He's pretty much famous for his knowledge of the Sedona trail-system and many of its denizens, too.  I maybe could have done this ride without him.  But I'm really glad I didn't.

We did an eight mile loop in just under two-and-a-half hours, with one short stop for snacks. It was a blast riding this incredible trail with Joe today.

An absolute, unmitigated, total blast.

More pictures (Thanks, Rockman!):

Link-to BONUS: Bike Magazine's Morgan Meredith also rode this trail some time ago and took a series of really incredible pictures.


chollaball said...

i like your vid a lot - the "normal" speeds and angles etc show it just as it is - the scary parts come though just fine!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the monday morning stoke....love the music too!

Jason Blackketter, D.C. vitalistic upper cervical specific doctor said...

Love it - gotta have it! John, your artistry and passion for bikes and language is always a pleasure for me, but this blog and maybe its subject matter was especially enjoyable. Thanks, buddy!

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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey