Mae Na - Pakhia - Mae Mae loop

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by cm das, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. cm das

    cm das Ol'Timer

    Feb 8, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    +1 / 0 / -0
    After several busy weeks I finally had the chance to take out my D-Tracker again on Sunday. It was my first ride with the new ECU & my first opportunity to test out my rear Trailmax tire on some dirt. Armed with my GT Rider Mae Hong Son Loop map I headed up the 107 with the intention of doing some exploring around Chiang Dao. On the way the D-Tracker with it's new ECU seemed to have a little more pick-up than I recalled, but I had hardly ridden it for about 3 weeks so it was tough to tell.

    First I decided to turn left at Mae Na & head up towards Pakhia. This section of road was covered well by thailasse in his report from last year ( ... t4225.html) but I'll add some pics since the road's looking pretty different now than it did last August.

    The turnoff to Pakhia

    How great to have clear skies & views again!

    It's soon a very pleasant dirt road winding upwards through forest, the surface is uneven but not loose or difficult.

    This is the first of several sleepy villages I passed. Actually, except for Pakhia every village looked just about empty.

    More nice dirt for a while til I hit the checkpoint.

    At this point I still wasn't sure which road I was on, but the friendly guy manning the checkpoint told me that I could continue straight ahead & eventually end up at Mae Taman. Now I had a mission.

    There were several forks in the road but I kept following signs for the Mae Taman Headwaters Management Office (?), the sign on the right here

    At this junction I turned right for a quick visit to Pakhia.

    Along the way were great views of Doi Luang & Pakhia itself.

    After a Pepsi & some refueling in Pakhia (40 Baht/liter), it was back up the mountain, where I soon came across the Headwaters Management Office, a well-tended collection of buildings high on the ridge.

    Another guy here assured me that if I continued on & kept to my left, I'd end up at Mae Taman. And here's where my adventure began. Up to this point my new tire was performing well. I hadn't noticed much change in grip but I was comfortable and may be riding with a little more confidence on the loose, steep parts.

    From here the road narrowed and got noticeably rougher.

    I was climbing along the ridge & just beginning to think that maybe I was getting in over my head when I spontaneously performed a freestyle attempted de-restriction of my D-Tracker. In other words, I dropped the bike, going up this loose & rutted incline.

    It doesn't look like much in the pic, probably it wouldn't look like much to most of you in person, but I got caught taking a bad line & when I tried to change it the bike ended up on its side. No problem, it was a soft landing & neither of us was hurt. On the second try I made it up without difficulty.

    The rocky, rough road continued along the ridge & I was a little jittery but managed OK. And there were some fantastic views.


    Eventually I came to another unsigned fork in the road. I didn't take a picture but it was about 1 or 2 km after I passed under a large tree that had fallen across the road. "Keep left" I remembered, and so I did. It turns out that to get to Mae Taman I should have kept right. From here the road descended in a series of steep switchbacks, past another empty village.

    And eventually I emerged onto a slab road at Mae Mae, greeted by the temple nagas.

    By now I'd been on the mountain for a few hours & was ready to head back down, unfortunately it wasn't so simple. At the T by the nagas I had a choice of turning left (downhill) or right (uphill). I chose left & the result was another half hour or so of trying out various roads only to have them deteriorate back into loose dirt or dead end. I did stumble across a weird, also empty, resort-type place that had another great vista.

    Backtracking to Mae Mae I found an actual, living human being who set me on the right road to Chiang Dao. From here it was a windy slab road, nothing spectacular but a pleasant ride.

    I came to this junction and headed downhill.
    If you wanted to do this loop the other way, you'd take a right here, and a left just past the temple in Mae Mae.

    Finally I passed this pretty little lake and emerged onto the 107 just opposite the big police checkpoint.

    On the way home, it was time for me to test the new ECU & see if my attempted de-restriction had worked. The result - a top speed of 115 & revs stuck around 7000, same as before.

    All in all, it was a nice ride & I learned alot about my bike & my own capabilites as a rider. Most practically, I learned that dotted line roads on the GT Rider maps are probably not for me, not at this point. The way up to Pakhia is easily doable on a D-Tracker with no off-road skills required. And if you're looking for a more adventurous & bumpy, scenic trip along a high ridge with awesome views, I can recommend the whole loop.
  2. Ally

    Ally Ol'Timer

    Dec 13, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    +0 / 0 / -0
    Cm what a great loop & brilliant report.

    I like those shots (as you well know) of the hard soil with the forest back drop, it must have been a very enjoyable ride.


    Sorry to hear about the slight misadventure but at least neither of you were 'hurt' of at worst, put off continuing upwards!

    I am certainly going to be out that way very soon, that area looks very appealing.


    Attached Files:

  3. Fishenough

    Fishenough Ol'Timer

    Nov 2, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    +8 / 0 / -0
    Thanks for a nifty report; was reading Thailasse report just last night too, and now with yours the route is at the top of my list of to-do rides.

    And after reading of your attempted de-restriction, starting to question the safety of riding off road like I have been attempting also. Not being twenty years old anymore plus really being surprised how a rough road tires you out in short order; a bit of an eye opener.

  4. thailasse

    thailasse Ol'Timer

    Feb 14, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    +2 / 0 / -0
    cm das, brilliant report and nice to see new updated photos from Pakhia side trip section. The Hmong Pakhia side trip is my favorite dirt road in North Thailand. Sometimes I still have to ride your route, many thanks for good idea and photos from Pakhia - Mae Mae section.

Share This Page