This is an interesting ride, combining some strenuous riding along Forest Road 143—a jeep road in a remote hilly area between Amado and Patagonia, with rolling riding along a paved road from Patagonia to Nogales, then almost flat riding, mainly along the I-19 frontage road from Nogales back to Amado. The ride is about 78 miles with 4,900 feet of climbing. From Amado to Patagonia it is about 32 miles and 3,430 feet of climbing. I rode this 4/15/2020.
Drive down I-19 to the Amado exit. Turn left under the bridge then turn right and drive down the frontage road for about 1.5 miles. I parked at the Universal Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ in Amado, on the corner of Amado Road and the frontage road. I’d previously called the Church at 520-873-8194 asking if it was okay to leave my car there.
Ride east on Amado Road as it jogs right then left and varies between paved road and dirt road and becomes FR 184, then at mile 4.8 you reach the paved Mt Hopkins Road. Turn right and ride for about 1 mile to where a dirt road head off to the right. This is FR 143 and it is well marked.
At about mile 12 you get into the serious hills, with plenty of short steep sections, fortunately none of them too long. Some were either steep enough or loose enough that I had to push my bike at times.
After lots of climbing and contouring around the mountain you crest out and are faced with a wonderful and steep descent into a lovely little valley. At the end of the valley you are faced with yet more—and harder—climbing to leave the valley. At about mile 15.7 you have another downhill into an even prettier valley, now with views of the back of Mt Wrightson.
Soon you reach an intersection with Josephine Trail signed to the left. Stay right, on the main road.
At about mile 20 you reach the Salero Ranch and you’ll be following a beautifully graded dirt road through the beautiful wide-open valley of the ranch for the next few miles. Periodically there are roads heading off to the north or south, each with a gate saying Salero Ranch.
Somewhere around mile 29 Salero Road heads off to the right. Taking this road would cut about 6 miles off the loop, but it is closed with a Salero Ranch gate and a sign that says that the road is private and that it is monitored by video camera.
In Patagonia, head east at the first opportunity to Hwy 82 then turn right and follow Hwy 82 south for 11 miles as it rolls up and down, past the tiny Nogales International Airport, then another 7 miles brings you to Business I-19 in Nogales itself. Follow the frontage roads north for about 28 miles to Amado.
Eventually the frontage road on the right finishes and you can cross the freeway and take the frontage road on the left. This eventually dead-ends and before that, at a small roundabout, you can cross the freeway again then ride about a mile north actually on the freeway until you can exit. Continue on the frontage road through Tumacacori and Tubac until you are again forced onto I-19 to go through the Border Control. Take the next exit and continue on the frontage road back to Amado.
Links and Other Clicks
The other loop that takes FR 143 is the Mt Wrightson Loop, which rides FR 143 the slightly easier way.