Exploring near Cochran, AZ


Beginning of the ride, with the guys from ADV:

Ride to Cochran, AZ, Dec. 28, 2013

When I saw the posting on ADVrider.com about the ride to Cochran, AZ, I was enthused, especially when I saw that one of the “inmates,” as we’re called, hoped that I would join them. I would love to! I thought to myself. Hal said he would join me, as I hoped he would, and the plan was in motion. There were descriptions about sandy areas on the road, so I thought I would take the Yamaha since it hadn’t been ridden since the ride on November 10 to Aztec Peak  (https://azgsgirl.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/aztec-peak-a-ride-to-the-top/). The Yamaha has Maxxis knobbies on it, and I thought those tires would do much better in sand than the worn-out dual sport tires the Kawi currently wears.

Hal and I decided to trailer part of the way to the meet-up point in Florence because the little TTR-225 isn’t exactly the most roadworthy dual sport I own. It passes the “street legal” requirements by the skin of its teeth, and unless I am in a remote area, I don’t like riding it on the street very much.

We met the ADV riders at the Chevron in Florence at 10. It took me about 10 minutes to gas up because I was trying to get “Supreme” grade gas (which is what I always put in my motorcycles), and the station’s underground tank was apparently dry. I had to settle for the low grade of gas, but I think one tank isn’t going to matter that much. We also filled up one of the extra fuel bottles to take just in case. Neither Hal nor I was familiar with the Cochran route, and we weren’t sure how to plan for it.

We all introduced ourselves to each other, and it was nice to get to know more dual sport riders. Finally, we mounted up and got on the road. The first “new” thing was to take Butte road out of town to Florence-Kelvin. I never knew this road went to F-K, and it cuts off a lot of pavement riding. It’s funny how since I got the Kawasaki I want to find dirt routes to everywhere, and try not to touch pavement. With the GS, I was always all for staying on pavement for as long as possible! We came out on F-K near the cleverly named Gotno Guest Ranch.

Once we got on F-K, I knew where Cochran Rd. was. I had noticed it several times before, but we never took it. It seemed a lot farther north than I thought it would be, that was just my perception. Of course, everyone reached the pullout at the beginning of that road before we did. We seem to ride a lot slower than almost everyone we ride with, but as Bill, who had organized the ride, said, “It’s not a race.” Good thing, or we’d be last. We just don’t set land speed records, Hal and I, which is probably why we ride together all the time – compatible riding styles.

Cochran Rd.:

The faster guys went first, and Hal and I were at the back. The ride was scenic, and we found ourselves getting near the White Canyon Wilderness on the backside (east) of Florence, looking at Mineral Mountain.  We climbed a little bit, then descended all the way to the Gila River. There were some sandy spots, but nothing very deep. I could have gotten the KLX through it easily even with worn-out tires.

What an awesome place:

About a half a mile before the Gila, we rode through a tree-lined lane that was narrow double-track. I was in heaven! This is the kind of place that I dream about riding in, and I loved that part of the ride the most. When we got to the little beach area, I found the rest of the group walking around, looking for the best route to cross.

Gila River, before the crossing mud party:

It turned out the crossing wasn’t necessary, but they wanted to explore a couple of miles on the other side. I thought I could probably do it, but I really didn’t want to get wet, as I was already a little cold. And I didn’t want to get too dirty! I know, here I am, a dirt rider, and I didn’t want to get dirty. It wasn’t really that, I didn’t want to get all wet and covered in mud, and then have to ride the rest of the day in that condition, then have a major cleanup after I got home. I didn’t see too much point in going through all that to ride a mile or two, then have to come back. So, I watched as the guys did the river crossing, most making it, some didn’t. Those who didn’t definitely got wet and muddy! We also watched a few quads and side-by-sides negotiate the crossing, but who wouldn’t be able make it with four wheels under them? Those vehicles are definitely for the lazy.

Remains of Cochran, AZ:

After the mud show, we went on, back through the tree-lined lane, and to the small loop that took us past the remains of Cochran, AZ, now a ghost of a ghost town. All that remains is a foundation, and a rusty pipe. However, on the side of Mineral Mountain are the most known feature, the beehive coke ovens.  The actual road to the coke ovens is notoriously difficult, and technically, the coke ovens are on private property. Someday I might go there, but it was fine to see them in the distance. I personally think people should stay away from them, they should be left alone, mainly because I know what happens when too many people go to an interesting place: it gets ruined.

Coke ovens in the distance:

We left Cochran behind, and went back up Cochran Rd. There is only one way in, and one way out. As usual, I came out faster than I went in, and soon we were at the same gathering place as when we’d started down the road. As it was past mid-day at this point, people started making plans to get something to eat. One group decided to go to Superior, but because we were parked outside of Florence, we elected to go through Florence and get a sandwich someplace there.

Big, awesome saguaros, a little worse for wear:

Ron stayed with us, and we pulled up in Florence at the Chevron station. At the pumps, we all decided that we didn’t really need gas at all. Hal dumped the fuel from the fuel bottle into my gas tank, and all three of us went to the River Bottom Grill. We sat for a while, having a pleasant conversation, and Hal and I split a sandwich (I mostly ate fries because we ordered a chicken sandwich and we got beef. Most of the time I can’t eat beef, and that day was one of those times!).

It was getting to be 4:30 by this time, and we split up, Ron heading toward US60, and Hal and I riding to where the car was parked. I was glad it was only 10 miles because I was cold by then, and so was Hal. We happened to be parked next to an RV pulling a trailer, and inside the RV was a compartment for the couple’s dirt bikes. They had been out all day as well, and the man was putting the bikes away. In the trailer were their road bikes. They are from Denver, CO, and Hal and I agreed that that was the way to travel! To pack up all the bikes, park for a while in a place, explore it on the motorbikes, then pack it all up again and find another place to explore. Maybe when I retire … Oh, well, I’m just dreaming again.

It was a fun day of exploring a new area with other dual sport riders. But, next time I will definitely take the KLX, wherever I go.

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2 thoughts on “Exploring near Cochran, AZ

  1. I have heard of those coke ovens before, but did not remember the name Cochrane, AZ. The interweb tells me it had as many as 100 residents in the early 1900s, and was a stop on a PHX-based railroad. I also saw some photos of the ovens, showing they were quite large. I hope you get a chance to see them more closely sometime.

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