Well, it is definitely leather weather around here these days, especially if you are riding in the early morning or late evening hours. But when the sun is out, it is feels really good to have a nice cool wind in your face for a change. Enjoy it while you can. Sure beats the alternative of snow storms in Denver.
Since we have cooled down quite a bit, heading North to ride is not the first place I think about going right now. There are a few places that are interesting to ride around the valley which I will go over in the next few weeks. But some of my favorite places to ride to that are good destinations for a lot of reasons are the lakes. We have 4 lakes in the Valley area that are easy to get to that provide beautiful desert riding while enjoying the beauty of the lake, the option to take a little hike, have lunch or just set on a rock and enjoy the view.
I'm not sure what it is that draws me to riding the lakes. Maybe it is the raw beauty of the desert around them with the intense desert landscape or just escaping the traffic of the city while enjoying some peace and quiet. But since riding to a lake is a personal preference of mine, I decided to do a little research and see what it would take to make an in town road trip out of it and visit all of them in the same day. Since I live on the West side of town, I plotted a route that would take me from Lake Pleasant, to Bartlett Lake, Saguaro Lake and Canyon Lake. The distance to visit each lake in succession is only 144 miles. Of course, you have to get back home, so it my case it would be a total of 232 round trip. But at least 60 miles of that would be freeway.
So for those of you that haven't been to these lakes, what do you do when you get there? What I like to do is ride every possible paved road around the lakes. In the case of Lake Pleasant and Bartlett there are a few miles of roads around the lake area that you can ride that are really pretty. Saguaro and Canyon don't offer much riding around the lakes, but the road getting to Canyon is one of the best in the State and the restaurant at Saguaro has the best views. There are restaurants at 3 of the lakes with Bartlett offering a little General store to get something to eat and drink. I will go over each lake below giving you the options of where to go and what to do including a map of the area.
Lake Pleasant is the largest lakes in the area, collecting water from snow melt in the North and acting as a reservoir to provide drinking water for Phoenix throughout the year. It is located 9 miles West of I-17 on Carefree Hwy. (Hwy. 74). The best riding is to take Castle Hot Springs Rd. which is just West of the lake. Go N. about 2.5 miles and you will see your first entrance to the lake. It will cost you $6 to enter the lake area, good for 24 hours. This road will take you to the new Scorpion Bay Marina where you can eat Breakfast or Lunch on the water at the Dillion's restaurant on site or rent a boat and take cruise on the lake. Lunch is served every day, breakfast only on Saturday and Sunday starting at 8am.
You can also ride to the Overlook that gives you a great view of the lake and a Visitor/Nature Center to tour. This area will give you an additional 13 miles of riding round trip to the entrance. Once you reach the entrance on your way out, turn right and follow Castle Hot Springs Rd. another 3 miles to the end where it turns into dirt. Turn right and this will take you back to the 4 lane ramp which is a good ride and will add another 4 miles.
All total there is about 25 miles of riding and exploring around the park that you can do at Lake Pleasant after you turn off of Carefree Hwy. It is really a beautiful area and the food at Dillon's at Scorpion Bay is really good. Click Here for Map of Lake Pleasant. You can view their web site for more information.
The next stop is Bartlett Lake which is a 45 mile ride from Lake Pleasant. Simply take Carefree Hwy. East out of Lake Pleasant and follow that to Cave Creek Rd. Turn North on Cave Creek Rd. and follow that 10 miles to the Bartlett Dam Rd. Turnoff. Follow Bartlett Dam Rd. 14 miles on a beautiful ride through the Tonto National Forest desert to the Lake. This area has a high concentration of Saguaro cactus that you will really enjoy. The view of the lake on your last 2 miles down to the lake is gorgeous. There is a short walk to the Marina dock store for some water or packaged sandwiches. About 1/4 mile from the ramp, you will see the SB Cove Rd. This will take you 4 miles back to Bartlett Flats that will drop you off at water's edge. This is a really beautiful ride that you will want to do.
When you reach Cave Creek Rd. again on your way out of Bartlett Dam Rd, you can turn right and take Cave Creek Rd. road which turns into Seven Springs Rd. for the 5 mile ride till it ends. This is a really cool twisty road through some really pretty scenery that hardly anyone takes because it eventually turns into a gravel road. But it is an excellent ride and worth the round trip. Click Here for Google Map of this area.
Click Here for Photos of ride to Bartlett Lake.
From Bartlett Lake you will take a 57 mile ride through Rio Verde, Fountain Hills and then Hwy. 87 to Bush Hwy. where in 4 miles you will come to Saguaro Lake. (See Map) Turn into Saguaro Lake and veer to the right to go to the Lake Shore Restaurant that sits overlooking the lake and the marina. They have a large outdoor patio that will give you a beautiful view of the lake, mountains, cliffs and the marina. The restaurant opens at 9am 7 days per week. This is the best place of all the lakes to sit back on the patio, to enjoy the view and the weather. If you veer left on your way in to the lake you can follow the lake shore around about a mile or so and get a good look at the marina and the cliffs around the lake. This is also a good place to park and take a hike up the hill for a better view. About a mile North of the main entrance to the lake you can take Butcher Jones Rd. down to a different part of the lake as well. Saguaro Lake Marina Web Site.
From Saguaro Lake you are now 32 miles from Canyon Lake. The funny part about this is that you are actually only 7 miles from Canyon Lake as the crow flies. Just continue South on Bush Hwy. to Usery Pass. South (left) on Usery Pass to Brown Rd. East on Brown to Apache Trail Rd. where you will embark on one of the best 14 mile rides in the State to Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flat. Apache Trail aka, Hwy. 88 the lake is truly a fantastic motorcycle ride. You will ride up, down around and through the mountains in the Tonto National Forest getting to your destination. In my opinion, this is one of the prettiest desert rides in the state by far. Beautiful saguaro cactus, mountains, vistas and views. And when you get to the overlook to enjoy your first view of Canyon Lake, be sure and stop to take a picture and enjoy it for a minute before winding your way down to the lake.
There is a restaurant at the Canyon Lake Marina called the Lakeside Restaurant & Cantina. They offer indoor and outdoor seating to enjoy the view. Lunch is served 7 days per week with breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. Menu includes steak, omelets, salads, sandwiches, seafood and fantastic burgers. If you don't feel like eating on the lake, you can ride another 2 miles to Tortilla Flat for an outdoor grilled burger or a full menu inside. Regardless of where you decide to eat, be sure to take the additional 6 miles of paved road on past Tortilla Flat. It turns into dirt at that point and continues on to Apache Lake and Roosevelt Lake. So if that is not your thing, simply turn around and enjoy a different view on the way back. But it is well worth your time to enjoy this forgotten stretch of asphalt that is lightly traveled, but with gorgeous views.
Check out these stunning photos of the ride to Canyon Lake.
This concludes the Cyclerides.com Four Lakes Tour which should give you some riding ideas and destinations for the next few weeks. The route that I described would be over 170 miles if you did every road and provides some of the best riding around the valley area. You can do it all at once or break it up over the next few weeks, but any one of these lakes are always a good destination if you have that burning desire to get some wind in your face and only have a few hours to get it done.
Click Here for the overall Google map of the Four Lakes Tour.
Click Here for Printable overall map of the Four Lakes Tour.
Every Friday and Saturday Night
Chilly Bombers is your place for Motorsports. Chilly Bombers has a real nice outdoor patio, great food and plenty of parking for cars and motorcycles. If you need a destination on a Friday or Saturday night, this is a good choice.
Friday Night: Ride by Chilly Bombers every Friday night for the Chilly Bombers Cruisin Car Show. See at least 100 classic and muscle cars displayed in the parking lot. Bike parking available. Starts at 5pm. 2 winners every week. Food and drink specials, vendors, DJ and Fun.
Saturday Night: Chilly Bombers Saturday Bike Night with Live Music by "The Unlisted".
Enjoy $5.00 1/2 pound Hamburgers, $2.50 Longnecks, 1/2 priced appetizers and $4 Jack Daniels.
Tuesday Night: Showing Sons of Anarchy at 7pm.
Chilly Bombers is located at the SE Corner of 51st Ave. and Bell Rd. 602-298-0843
Saturday, November 27th
Buddy Stubbs Salute to Our Brave Defenders of Freedom. Ride by Buddy Stubbs Harley-Davidson and help celebrate Military Appreciation Month at the dealership. Enjoy Free Food, Drinks, Live Music, Museum Tours with Buddy, and a pool tournament for prizes from 11am - 3pm. The NJROTC Color Guard and Rifle Presentation at 12 PM. Active and Veteran military save 10% off Hoodies, Leather Jackets, Helmets and FXRG (must have proper ID, no other discounts apply and only good in General Merchandise and Parts and Accessories). Take par in signing the Harley-Davidson flag that will be sent to the Pat Tillman Memorial USO at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Veteran and Active military will receive an H-D military-style bandana as a thank you for signing the flag while supplies last. We will be handing out double-sided Marisa Miller posters, again while supplies last so get there early! Spend $300 in Parts or General Merchandise, you will be eligible for the Military Archival Collection plaque valued at $75. Restrictions apply. Ask an associate for details. 602-971-3400. Buddy Stubbs HD is located at 13850 W. Cave Creek Rd. in Phoenix.
Friday, December 3rd
Motorcycles On Main St. in Mesa Sponsored by Chester's Harley-Davidson. Motorcycles on Main in Mesa is back in full swing. Riders have been asking for something to do on a Friday night for a long time and now it is here at least once per month. This event regularly brings in over 1000 riders for a fun time. Ride to downtown Mesa the first Friday of every month for the Downtown Mesa "Motorcycles On Main St." Cruise Main St. and enjoy Sturgis Style parking on the inside lanes. Park and show off your bike. The night will feature 4 Beer Gardens located throughout the 2 blocks and 4 Live Band Stages. Be sure and check it out this month on Friday, December 3rd to join in on the motorcycle fun in Downtown Mesa from 6pm - 10pm. Downtown Mesa is located Just East of Country Club Dr. on Main St. Ride in with Chester's HD. Meet at the dealership at 6:30pm located at 922 S. Country Club Dr. in Mesa. Ride leaves at 6:30pm and ends at the Chester's Booth on Main St. Reserved Motorcycle Parking on the Main St.
Saturday, December 4th
2010 Toys For Tots to benefit the United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation. Join the Marine Corps Reserve at Fuzzy's Southwest Grill Saturday, Dec. 4th. 100% of the proceeds go to the Toys For Tots Foundation. There will be a Peoples Choice Car and Bike Show from 10am - 4pm. $15 Entry to display. Trophy awarded and check donated in honor of winners. Fuzzy's is located at 18795 N. Reems Rd. on the SW corner of Reems Rd. & Grand Ave. in Surprise. There will be Santa Claus, Fire Trucks and Live Music. Stay for the fun, or just ride thru with a donation of cash or new unwrapped toys. After party with Dok & Gal, 7-11. All donations go to the US Marine Corps. Toys for Tots fund for Maricopa County. Car Show info call Scott at 623-512-1978 or Nick 623.398.4042 for more info.
Saturday, December 4th
Toys for Tots sponsored by American Legion Riders Post 35. All proceeds go to the US Marine Corps. Toys for Tots program and other American Legion Riders programs. Sign in at Skunk Motorsports at 202 W. Main St. in Mesa, AZ from 8am - 10am. $20 without a toy, $15 with a toy. Passengers $15 without a toy and $10 with at toy. Ride pin for the first 100 participants. Paid ride includes: Ride, Lunch, Door Prizes and Live Music. More information call Jesse at 602-717-7545. For other updates go to http://alr35.org/ToysForTots2010.htm
Sunday, December 5th
38th Annual Kicks 4 Kids. Motorcycle Toy Drive and Trivia Run. Law Tigers, Star of Phoenix Chapter 113 & The Army Reserve NCO Council present Phoenix's longest running Toy Run. Things have changed a little this year for the Kicks 4 Kids Ride. This year it will add the Law Tigers Trivia Ride, traveling from the F.O.P. Lodge #2 located at 19th Av & Cactus. Sign in from 8am - 10am, last bike in 12pm. Donation is one new unwrapped toy. $5 minimum value. Your map will guide you to 5 stops along the way to Wildhorse Pass Hotel and Casino located at 5550 W. Wildhorse Pass in Chandler, AZ. Each stop will have a question. Look around because the answer to the question will be right in front of you at each stop. Law Tigers has sponsored cash prizes of 1st $300, 2nd $100, 3rd Motorcycle Gift Package. They'll be Vendors, Refreshments, Entertainment, 50/50, Best Xmas Decorated Bike Show and a $5 Lunch Poolside at Wild Horse Pass. We are looking for vendors if you would like to join us please email at firstname.lastname@example.org
SAVE THE DATE!
Saturday, December 11th
The Cyclerides.com Toys To Kids ride will be held on Saturday, December 11th this year. For the last 8 years I have done this ride on the first Saturday of December, but this year I could not get the kids on that date. So we moved it to the 11th. once again be held at Westgate City Center. As usual, we will be bussing in 100 kids as we have done before. I would like to thank Arizona Bikeweek for offering to pay for the bus transportation for the kids this year.
The program will include live entertainment with crowd and kid favorite Bret Kaiser as "Elvis", and Saddle Ranch will be serving an $8.99 breakfast buffet that morning starting at 9am. The program for the kids will start at 11am. As always, after being fed and entertained, the kids will be able to pick any 3 gifts from the toys that you bring while they are there. I look forward once again to make this a very special day for these kids and for the riders who faithfully participate.
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