Three different routes will be explored in the Payson Mountain High Games ATV Trail Ride events this weekend.
The rides on Friday and Saturday will include Ultra Terrain Vehicles as well as quads, but the ride Sunday is restricted to quads only.
Registration is limited to 50 riders, but there are slots still open and entries will be taken the day of the event.
Friday’s ATV Trail Ride is from 5:45 p.m. to 7 p.m. and covers 16 miles and Snowstorm Mountain.
The trail leaves from the Payson Event Center. Along the way, riders will encounter gorgeous views of the Mazatzal Mountain Range as the sun sets. While it is shorter, due to being an evening ride, the trail is surrounded by two mountain ranges. If timed right, participants can pause for the sunset about halfway through, perched on a large rock face overlooking the East Verde River.
Entertaining during the sunset stop will be Payson historian Jinx Pyle, sharing stories about the region and singing some old ballads.
The ride will take participants past one of the area’s old mines.
Bring a camera, binoculars and a flashlight. There are a few rocky portions on the trail, with a few steep inclines, but for the most part the trail has a “Beginner” rating.
Saturday’s ride — the Table Mountain Ride/Poker Run — starts at 8 a.m. at the Payson Event Center and is 32 miles long and has an “Intermediate” rating.
This will be a fun ride for the “kid at heart,” according to information from the Payson Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department.
It will take participants up close to the Mazatzal Mountain Range, with some of the most beautiful panoramic views in the area. One of the defining features is a large mountain that is flat and resembles a table top, hence the name of the ride, Table Mountain. The area is full of old mines and twisting turns. There is also a hill, affectionately named by locals as the “Rocky Bitch” awaiting riders.
At several stops along the route, participants will be given a playing card. Event sponsor Walmart will award a television to the rider who collects cards creating the best poker hand by the end of the ride.
Sunday’s ride begins at 7 a.m. and requires participants to trailer their quads to the trailhead, which is approximately three miles from the Payson Event Center.
The Royal Flush Mountain Ride is for quads only and is 22 miles with an “Intermediate” rating due to some rocky areas that would not be suitable for small children or unskilled riders.
The country the trail traverses is full of rich history and is where one of the bloodiest feuds in Arizona history transpired. The Rim Country feud — also known as the Pleasant Valley War — was between the sheepherding Tewksburys and the cattle ranching Grahams. Over about a five-year period there was more blood spilled between these two families than in any other feud in the western U.S.
The country is also rugged and beautiful, so rugged in fact, it is known as the Hellsgate Wilderness. Again, riders will have an opportunity to see old mining sites and the Hole in the Ground Canyon, as well as hear stories about the area.
The fee to participate in the full event is $60 per person and includes the Friday night barbecue and all three rides, an official T-shirt, money-saving coupons. The fee for non-riders is $35, which includes the barbecue and a T-shirt; $25 for Saturday and Sunday; for weekend-only participants the fee is $50 per person for the Saturday and Sunday rides and a T-shirt.