On January 14, 2004 I tried a shortcut, Route 1252, from Lampang to Doi Saket that I wrote up as the “North’s Worst Shortcut”. Today, 1 month later, I decided to checkout the portion I missed. This turned out to be a good loop which will get better very soon. They’re paving or repaving the whole section and making it a first class road. Why I don’t know as it really goes to nowhere of importance. So what’s new? I took 118 North (Chiang Rai Rd) from the Chiang Mai Super Highway, about 36k to just past Ban Pang Faen. I was surprised to find a very prominent overhead road sign pointing right to Mae Chaem and 1252. You immediately start a very steep climb into the mountains on a concrete road. Twisting up over picturesque valleys I found freshly paved smooth, asphalt. Although perfectly smooth the surface is dirty and there are no guardrails or room for error. Some of switchbacks and climbs are pretty extreme. I wouldn’t make it a speed run. The mountain road continued past a couple very small villages and no traffic. At the 11k mark I figured I had just finished with a good thing because it turned to dirt, but it was smooth freshly graded dirt and only lasted about 1 k. and returned to asphalt. About 15.5 k in I found what I thought would be the end of the line. The road was rough dirt and just past the start of the dirt was a multitude of various kinds of heavy road equipment and piles of dirt and rock over the road. However I was able to pick my way through and work crews just waved me past. Actually it looks like this is the last section to finish paving and they are hard at work. I had to make one rather steep climb on rough dirt as I exited this zone, but it should not be a big problem. I then entered a larger village which I believe is Pang Klang. The road comes to a Y junction. To the left is just a small village which takes a little more difficult route back up to 1252 after 1.5 K. To the right and uphill is where you want to go. 1 k more, 18.3 k from 118, and you reach a very large T-intersection. There is some type of ranger station on the left on a hill. Although there are no signs it is clear that you want to make a right turn here. This whole area has just been built and has the first base layer of asphalt completed as I write this. Just one month ago it was still dirt so they are working pretty fast. If you continue straight you will immediately start the “short cut” I described. Unless you are on a dirt bike and wanting a long ride, I would make the turn. The road from this point starts with a pretty rough, broken up section of steep downhill asphalt. (There is one more section like this 7 k in). But once clear of this the road is a nice and quiet, winding asphalt road which follows the valley through rainforest and past many small villages. The road runs for 14 k arriving at a T intersection at the Mae Taeng National Park HQ. Turning left takes you into the park if you want a longer loop. (There is a posting on this trip on the board). Turning right ,14 k, brings one back to 118 at the Pong Din check point and then 26 k back to the Super Highway. Although not yet a great ride, when the construction is finished it will be a very nice “day loop” which can be combined with others in the area. My guess is that they are trying to finish the road before rainy season as it appears they are hard at it. If you want to kill a couple hours on a new route, it’s not bad. Dave Early Ever notice that "What the Heck!" is usually the right answer?