At Casitas de Gila Guesthouses mountain biking enthusiasts will find out-the-door access to miles and miles of County, State and National Forest roads and by-ways. Plus, each Casita has its own library containing books, guidebooks, maps and information about the local area. Your hosts, Becky and Michael are quite knowledgeable about off-highway roads and trails in the area and the various options for mountain biking. They will be glad to provide detailed maps and directions to these localities when you are ready to venture away from the Casitas.
Loop Mountain Biking Excursions right from your Casita:
Hooker Loop/SR 153/FR 155 Circuit Route
Casitas de Gila Guesthouses are located just off Hooker Loop, an eight-mile long, county maintained gravel and dirt road which turns off asphalt-paved State Road 153 in the little community of Gila, in Southwestern New Mexico. Hooker Loop meanders eastward up into the juniper and pinion covered hills for four miles to the turn off for the Casitas and then loops back down from the hills to the northwest through rolling ranchland to intersect with Gila National Forest Road 155 four miles north of Gila. Turning left (south) on FR 155, the road is gravel for one-tenth mile before becoming paved when FR 155 becomes SR 153 at the Gila National Forest boundary.
Traveled together, Hooker Loop FR 155 and SR 153 make a 12-mile loop excursion from your Casita door and back, offering the mountain cyclist a moderately physically challenging introduction to the landscape and terrain of the area, while providing spectacular views of the Gila Wilderness, the Pinos Altos and Mogollon Mountains, and the Gila River Valley. Vehicle traffic on the loop is sparse.
Hooker Loop/FR 155 Route to the Gila River in the Gila National Forest
A longer and more physically demanding optional extension to the route described just above can be taken at the intersection of Hooker Loop and FR 155. When you reach this point, instead of turning left (south), you would turn right and follow FR 155 north another 1.2 miles to the point where FR 155 leaves the flat Gila River Valley and begins a series of switchbacks up into the mountains, rising some 1060 feet in 3 miles before reaching the crest of a ridge. Having reached the crest of the ridge, the cyclist will enjoy a breather of a mile-long flat stretch along the crest of the ridge offering breathtaking 360º views into the Gila Wilderness to the north, the Bear Creek drainage to the east and the Gila River Valley to the west and south below, before beginning a 4 mile descent down Brushy Canyon to terminate at the edge of the Gila River and the trailhead for Gila National Forest Trail 724.
Having made it this far, the cyclist is rewarded with the pristine beauty of the Gila Wilderness – towering pastel colored volcanic mountains cut by the clear, cool waters of the Gila River lined with old-growth Cottonwood, Sycamore and Gray Oak. Designed for foot and horseback travel, FT 724 leads upstream along the Gila River some 35 miles almost to the Gila Cliff Dwellings, providing unlimited access to the inner canyons of the Gila Wilderness. Shortest round trip distance from the Casitas to the FT 724 trailhead and back is 29 miles; round trip distance via SR 153 to Gila and then taking Hooker Loop back to the Casitas is 32 miles.
Hooker Loop/SR 211/SR 293 Route to the Gila River and the Gila Riparian Preserve
A much less physically demanding bicycle expedition to the Gila River would be the 25 mile round-trip journey from Casitas de Gila Guesthouses to the Gila Riparian Preserve. Located on the northwest side of the Gila River at the point that the river exits the mountains and flows out into the broad Gila River Valley, the Gila Riparian Preserve is a 1000 acre+ natural area jointly owned by the Nature Conservancy and the State of New Mexico. Offering excellent hiking, picnicking, swimming, birding, and camping, the Gila Riparian Preserve is a great destination point for cycling guests at the Casitas. The trip is 4 miles over the well-maintained southern end of Hooker Loop from Casitas to Gila to a left turn onto paved SR 153 for two-tenths of a mile, and then a turn right (west) onto paved SR 211. Within a mile SR 211 crosses the Gila River and after another half mile intersects with paved SR 293. The cyclist then follows SR 293 northwest for 5 miles before entering the Gila National Forest where the pavement ends and a graveled dirt road continues 1.5 miles further to dead end at the Gila Riparian Preserve. This easy-to-moderate biking excursion offers a relaxing ride through the rural and pastoral Gila Valley to a marvelous natural area where a cool dip in the Gila River is waiting. Although much of the journey is over paved roads, vehicular traffic is generally sparse.
All-Day Mountain Biking Excursions
in the Gila National Forest and adjacent lands
from your base at Casitas de Gila Guesthouses
Mountain Biking in Southwest New Mexico is facilitated by an accommodating year-round climate and the fact that roughly 60 to 70% of the land is open to the public in the form of National Forest land, Bureau of Land Management land, State land, plus numerous State, Federal, and private land trusts which are open to the public. Access to all of these lands is readily available through a vast network of State, County and National Forest roads, plus an extensive trail system. The Gila National Forest alone, for example, comprises some 3.3 million acres of forest with countless miles of access roads, many of which are excellent for mountain biking. In short, finding excellent places for mountain biking here in our area will not be a problem. Rather, your biggest challenge during your stay will be in deciding on which of the many excellent localities to visit! In this respect, your Casita hosts Michael and Becky are available at all times to share their local knowledge, suggest good localities and provide maps and directions as to how to get there. Below are listed a few mountain biking areas that are close to Casitas de Gila.
The Middle Box of the Gila
About 10 miles from Casitas de Gila Guesthouses, off of US 180 on Bill Evans Lake Road and then FR 809, the Gila River re-enters the Gila National Forest as it begins its transect of the ancient Burro Mountains. This is the Middle Box of the Gila and FR 809 provides an easy-to-moderate mountain cycling opportunity, surrounded by magnificent scenery in soul-nourishing solitude. Depending upon where you leave your vehicle, up to 15 miles of backroad cycling await you.
A short, but interesting side trip that can be included while cycling in this area is to cycle up to Bill Evans Lake, a man-made reservoir which is open to the public for fishing and picnicking. The reservoir was constructed by Phelps-Dodge Mining Company 30 years ago to supply water to its copper mineral processing plant 10 miles southeast in Tyrone. The 2-mile round-trip cycle up to the reservoir provides some nice vistas of Juniper and Pinion hills with the high peaks of the Gila Wilderness on the northern skyline.
About 8 miles from Casitas de Gila Guesthouses is Sacaton Road, a County-maintained gravel/dirt road that leads west from the community of Cliff along the base of the Mogollon Mountains on the western margin of the Gila Wilderness. Connecting to FR 147 the little-used byway of Sacaton Road goes a scenic 25-miles, offering marvelous vistas as it meanders over a vast upland desert pediment surface. As you follow the road north and then to the west, the terrain gradually rises from mesquite, juniper and cactus-covered ranch range land into the ponderosa-covered foothills of the Gila National Forest before eventually emerging on to U. S. Highway 180 a few miles south of Glenwood. Much of the road passes through private, open ranchland before reaching the numerous forest roads and trails accessible in the Gila National Forest portion of the route.
Depending upon the weather, your personal interests and endurance levels, Sacaton Road and the various roads and trails leading off from it offer the mountain biking enthusiast a variety of terrain and landscapes to explore. Becky and Michael are quite familiar with these roads and will be pleased to discuss numerous options for possible outings as well as provide maps of the areas.
Caution: In wet weather, this road can become virtually impassible even for four-wheel drive vehicles; however, during dry seasons the road is generally passable in passenger vehicles. Inquire before traveling!
Saddle Rock Mountain Area
Located in the Burro Mountains, 16 miles from Casitas de Gila Guesthouses, the Saddle Rock Mountain area provides the mountain biker with a variety of challenging roads and trails. The Burro Mountains are located south of US 180 and lie almost entirely within the Gila National Forest. Whether your interest is cycling rugged gravel roads through mountain scenery or muscle-testing off-road trails, the dedicated mountain biker will find miles of opportunities in this area.
YOU CAN RENT BICYCLES FROM:
Gila Hike & Bike, 103 E. College Avenue, Silver City, 575-388-3222
FOR MORE CYCLING INFORMATION:
Twin Sisters Cycling, 303 N. Bullard Street, Silver City, 575-538-3388
GILA NATIONAL FOREST MOUNTAIN BIKING INFORMATION