All along the length of Route 66 are amazing gems and breathtaking surprises that are only accessed with small detours from that iconic highway. Seeking them enhances any trip along the old double six and adds a new dimension to savoring the journey rather than focusing on the destination, the very essence of a Route 66 adventure.
To that end I penned my last book, Route 66 Backroads. A few detractors have quipped the book takes the focus from the highway. The reality is the book presents the highway as a portal to more than the past.
Perhaps the best example I can give is the Hualapai Mountains, an island of pine forested mountains in a sea of desert. From Kingman this oasis is accessed from Route 66 with a brief but stunningly scenic twelve mile drive.
Laced with miles of beautiful trails these mountains are among our favorite haunts during the months of summer. As Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick off of the summer season we decided today was an excellent time for our first mountain hike of the season.
We followed the original alignment of Hualapai Mountain Road to the Aspen Peak trail just below the ranger station. With small cooler bag, camera, and tripod in tow we set out on our kick off adventure.
Our first stop was the ruins of the old Silver Bell Mine, a nearly forgotten footnote to history.
Rock slides have almost completely obscured the last vestiges of this once promising enterprise.
We savored the cool, pine scented breezes as we followed the deeply shadowed trail higher into the mountains. With each break in the trees and every clearing the views became more spectacular. As we crested one ridge the spectacular views of the broad Hualapai Valley, the Cerbat Mountains as a backdrop, and the sweep of Kingman brought us up short. Enhancing the stunning vista was a wide array of wildflowers. Comparing the Hualapai Mountains to an island is not an empty analogy. As with an island paradise
there is fine dining at the Hualapai Mountain Lodge, a wide array of lodging choices from rustic camping to cabins and a resort.
From Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona, the Hualapai Mountains is a very short detour, not one you will soon forget. And isn’t getting there half the fun?