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A hike to Padre Canyon Bridge near Twin Arrows January 7, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges.
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An editor for the Arizona Daily Sun newspaper apparently figured out a legal way to get close to and then hike over the 100-year-old Padre Canyon Bridge that once carried Route 66 near Twin Arrows.

You can’t access the bridge from less than a mile west of the new Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort because it’s labeled as private property. However, you can go to the Winona exit several miles to the west off Interstate 40 and double back east on the north frontage road.

We drove east along the road, marked as FR510 on the Coconino National Forest Service Map, for about five miles until it forked into two dirt tracks up a slight rise that would have required slipping our Jeep into four-wheel drive. But since we were out for some exercise anyway, we disembarked and continued east on foot.

The highway includes a mix of pavement and dirt for about a mile until reaching the canyon, where it curves north. The bridge is around a bend, out of sight of I-40, but when it comes into view, it appears almost to be a mirage in a wilderness landscape.

The right of way descends to the elegant concrete span, which had tire tracks across but appeared to be in poor condition. Most of the concrete pillars supporting the railings had crumbled, and in one section a railroad tie served as the railing and the only thing preventing a 60-foot fall to the rocks below.

The bridge dedication plaque had been pried nearly off, but two black-and-white Route 66 logos were still perfectly preserved on each of the eastern concrete abutments.

Here’s a Google Maps satellite view of the old bridge:


View Larger Map

Due to the fragility of the bridge and the rocky terrain leading there, it’s probably inadvisable to drive over the bridge. Hiking less than a mile probably is more fun anyway.

The writer added this intriguing suggestion to his story, which I hope is taken seriously:

Our recommendation to Twin Arrows Casino would be to work out access rights and develop a walking trail to a National Historic Register structure right on its doorstep.

(Image of Padre Canyon Bridge near Twin Arrows, Ariz., by Bill Morrow via Flickr)

Comments»

1. Scott Sheehan - January 7, 2014

I drove the entire way from exit 211 to the bridge this past June in a rented Nissan Rogue. There’s nowhere to turn around on the west side of the bridge so I was forced to cross it and turn around on the east side, then drive back over it to return the way I came. It is by far the sketchiest section of 66 I’ve ever driven. And that includes La Bajada Hill, the Cuervo Cutoff, and the original alignment to the PDTP.

My girlfriend was in tears the last half mile, I thought we’d get stuck on the cattle guard because the surrounding ground is so eroded. And the last left hander before the bridge is so rutted the car tipped left so hard I could only see sky out the passenger window while I was about three feet from the canyon’s edge. I was given the number of the rancher who owned the land on the eastern approach at exit 219. When I called to ask for permission to cross his land he informed me that he sold the property to the Hopi Tribe. I think he said the man living there now is a Geologist.

2. Jerry Mcclanahan - January 7, 2014

Us Route 66 nuts figured out this way to get to the bridge many years ago, Ron! And I believe the “black and white 66 logos” were painted on in modern times.

3. Jen - January 7, 2014

Good to know—I’ll definitely make sure my hiking boots are on top of the luggage when we make it to AZ!

4. Tom D - January 7, 2014

We sent across in 2011 on the “Road to Amarillo”. Roamin’ Rich and Dale Butel have driven across it several times.

Ron Warnick - January 7, 2014

I’m well aware of Rich, Nick, McJerry, et al, exploring the bridge. However, I thought the article provided an easy way for most roadies without four-wheel drives to access it, especially since the construction of the new casino has essentially cut off access from the east.

And I think the writer’s idea to have the casino build a walking trail to it as a very good one.

5. Rick Martin - January 7, 2014

Been there a couple of times from the west. It appears to have a small amount of traffic on it possibly local ranchers. We have always had high clearance and 4wd. Don’t think I would attempt it otherwise.

If you do make the hike be sure to look back under I-40 on the east bound side. There are the remains of the 30′s bridge supports still under there.

I have some pics of this one and some others on my site about 66 bridges. Just scroll down to it.

http://route66images.publishpath.com/

6. Sean - January 8, 2014

“but two black-and-white Route 66 logos were still perfectly preserved on each of the eastern concrete abutments.”

Those shields were painted all along the road about 10 years ago. The really cool paint is the remnant silver (that can be seen on the twin bridge at Diablo Canyo to the east) that has very faint 66s stenciled on it. This bridge was in use along the old Flagstaff- Winslow highway in 1913 up through its bypass in 1932.
It was the completion of the the bridges at Padre and Diablo Canyons that permitted the road between Flagstaff and Winslow to avoid the northerly Route through Leupp.

I attended a historic roads meeting years ago in Williams wherein a Coconino County highway engineer was asked about the status of the bridges. He replied they were off of the county’s inventory meaning they were no longer maintained. The man who asked him had just driven a loaded cattle truck off of the Babbitt ranches and over the bridge at Diablo Canyon at Two Guns!


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