The back way to Doi Suthep

Discussion in 'Touring Northern Thailand - Trip Reports Forum' started by Size15, Jan 10, 2006.

  1. Last weekend I was in CM with my XR250 and looking for some off-road fun. I spent two days in Samoeng enjoying the dirt. I ended up on the 1096 about half way between Samoeng and Mae Rim and took out David’s MHS map to see if I could find anything interesting.

    The map showed a dashed line trail from the 1096 to Doi Suthep so I said what the heck, I’ll give it a try. I don’t remember reading any posts about this trail so I thought I should investigate. To find the trail first look for the sign to Mae Sa Mai. There’s a royal project about 3 km up the road and the village is about 7 km in from the 1096.

    The road was dirt past Ma Sa Mai and two-track until it goes over the first mountain. Going down the first mountain it turns to a single track but in pretty good condition.

    Between the first hill and Doi Suthep there are a few wet spots that are close together. Then you start going uphill in what looks like a dry creek bed that has some danged big rocks in it. I blasted my way through the rocks and thought to myself, “damn, this is pretty stupid – riding this trail alone. I dropped the bike once and ripped the rh hand grip and some sand got in making the throttle return non-working. More than once I thought about turning back but I saw fresh dirt bike tracks in the mud so I figured if someone else did it then so could I.

    At the top of the climb you come out at a farm – maybe it’s a royal project, I couldn’t tell. The last 200 meters are some real tall grass and I don’t think you’d ever find the trail from the top side. About 1 or 2 km after the farm there’s a Y and I followed the sign downhill to CM and Mae Rim. About 3 or 4 km down I realized that this wasn’t the nice paved road to Doi Suthep so I did a u-turn and headed back up the hill.


    Instead of heading south here you can go west to the campground and join up with the asphalt to Doi Suthep. Site B is the farm where the trail ends.

    Sanuk dii.


    If I wasn't doing this, I'd be doing something else...
  2. Feeling a little deprived of dirt riding, Big & Tall and I decided to look for dirt on Doi Suthep. It turns out; we’ve both ridden over the top into the Mae Sa valley before so it was a familiar ride. Dave E. gave me some tracks he laid down last year so off we went. Me on my black XR250 and B&T with an identical rental from Joe & Tom’s.

    On the way up, we stopped at the geocache on Doi Suthep. I had found the site a few weeks earlier but couldn’t find the cache as it was hidden well. I had to go back to the web and get some clues. Took a Swiss rolex spoon and left a die from the Silver City casino in Vegas.


    Silverhawk’s tracks showed a trail around the east of the crest that I hadn’t ridden before so we decided to try that first. 100 meters into the trail we noticed the trail was almost entirely covered in green moss and wet as well. I took the lead and was the first to fall as I made the mistake of using the front brake to slow down and it locked up. B&T was right behind me and followed in suit. When we got to the 3rd fallen tree covering the trail, we decided that the combination of moss and downed trees was good enough reason to try the other route.

    The route over sacred doi Suthep mountain into the jungle. I laid down a 20m track so it’s pretty good.


    Back to the temple area to rehydrate and off again. The west loop was drier and much more ridable. There weren’t any more crashes until we were well on our way to the Mae Sa valley. The trail to the valley is badly eroded and in our opinion, not passable by a solo rider. There were several places where we had to carry the bikes through ruts 2 feet deep caused by erosion. Here’s a photo of B&T upside down after realizing that his legs weren’t long enough to keep him upright. The trail is in bad need of some maintenance.


    We had a new experience while riding through some deep mud. As each of us were blasting our way through some foot deep mud, we heard what sounded like something stuck in the rear wheel. I stopped to see if a branch or something was caught in the wheel, but it was clean except for being buried in mud. Turns out, there were small pieces of rock in the mud and they were being crushed between the chain and sprocket.

    B&T had the advantage when it came to getting under the fallen trees.


    Lesson learned: leave the dSLR at home and take a point and shoot camera for dirt trips. The Nikon made it really hard to be spontaneous. You have to take your gloves off, take your glasses off, remove your helmet, put your glasses back on so you can use the view finder and frame the photo properly. In the future? If I had the point and shoot, I would have more photos of B&T upside down.


    If I wasn't doing this, I'd be doing something else.
  3. Barry and I first met each other on the 1252 ride with Silverhawk. I guess David had teased him into coming on the ride under the pretense of some dirtbiking which was not meant to be. Having the same dirt desire we conspired to explore the backside of doi Suthep together and see what trouble we could uncover.

    East of the crest trail barry mentions leaves out of the Campground just past Doi suthep and boy was it a challenge. Rocks? No. Water? No. Ledges? No. Just good ole' smooth hard red clay with a coat of water on top of it. it all looked innocent enough, eh? Never before has anything looked so easy yet posed such a challenge. I come from Southern California and we never have mud there. This stuff was as smooth as pool table yet the consistency of baby oiled teflon. Nothing stuck to it including our tires. Within 100 meters barry and i proceeded to engage in synchronized crashing, as the ground was as hard as an East german grandmother and as slippery as a Patpong bar girl.
    102639123-M. Our bikes pointing different directions after the first fall together. We looked quite coordinated and are now seeking sponsorship as we're both quite good at crashing now.

    We crashed some more and soon barrys folding footpeg refused to fold back down. Barry convinced it to fold with a 15' section of tree branch.
    102639131-M. The Thai universal breaker bar fixing barrys footpeg

    After crossing under and over a few downed tree's we rounded the corner to a tree that stopped our progress. No way past. Discretion took over and we backtracked to an alternate route. The second route we chose left out of the Doi Pui campground and is called the "nature trail". The road to the trail had a lovely covering of green moss on it that after slipping ass over tea kettle on the other trail we made sure to stay off of as we did not have SuzukiLuke along with us to give it a good traction test.
    102639135-M. Moss growing on the access road to the "nature Trail"

    This trail had a lot better purchase which means barry and I stopped crashing into each other for at least a few kilometers. We had a great time bombing along and enjoying the scenery. About 10 KM in or so the road forks at a pine forest. We took the left fork to the 1096 and Mae Sa valley. The right fork continues down to the Heuy tung teow(sp?) water resoviour.
    102639165-M. Barry enjoying the scenery and trail.

    From this fork the road deteriated in a few spots and one in particular that had me thrashing. I would watch enviously at Barry and his 6'5" frame padlle with his outrigger legs through technical sections of rocks. My midget legs would paw uselessly at the air to keep my bike upright and would result in me underneath 250 pounds of XR 250. I think I should of got paid keeping barry amused.

    When crossing ruts on an offroad bike you want to cross at a perpindicular angle. One section proved unmakeable riding as a solo rider since these 2'-3' deep ruts could not be crossed. We ended up having one rider ride the bike while the other person stood next to the rut and pushed the bike into the dirt to make traction and not let the bike slide back down into the rut. Was this pretty? Hell no!! We looked like two monkey's trying to screw a football wrestiling the xr's through this section. Barry said he could ride and i could hold him and the bike or I could ride and he could do the pushing and holding. Lets see now, Barry is 6"5" and 240 LBS, the bike is another 250 Lbs and I'm all of 140 pounds soaking wet. Physics would make the situation pretty ugly if I was in charge of keeping Barry and his bike pinned to the side of the hill. Barry volunteered to be the heavy and I promised to try and not run him over. Eventually we got through the section but it was arduous.
    102625144-M. Me wishing I was having to lift a Honda dream instead of the XR. This section was the crux of the trail.

    There were other numerous trail obstacles but they were makeable. the trail eased in its difficulty about 5 km from the 1096. Total dirt ride length was about 50 KM.
    Fun and challenging but with current condition don't attempt it alone.

    Cheers all.
    "Formerly known as the twat, racer55"
  4. Good posts guys. I did the nature trail on the Huay Tung Tao side around February on a rented Wave, would I realistically be able to do your trip on the Tiger?



    "No matter how hard you try, you CAN'T polish a turd!"
  5. I did that trip in June on a rented Tiger, possible but hard. In some places got stuck but could lift it out of the mud. Would be much harder on a 250. Last Friday I went with my AX1 from Mae Sa Mai to Doi Suthep. Actually, if you come from Mae Sa Mai, there are several possibilities. I took the one going through a lot of lychee plantations, joining the road from the summit of Doi Pui to Huay Tung Thao. I went alone but would not recommend it this month. There is a very difficult red clay stretch, I needed help from a friendly Hmong guy on a Honda Dream.
  6. I've done this same route before last year, and it has deterioted a lot in the difficult sections seperating the two ends that are used for farming and are maintained. Not the same route as last year for sure, it has a new personality now through the rut section pictured. I think it would be easier going up this part, as you would slide into the 2 1/2" rut instead of trying to climb out of it at 20 degee angle which is not easy.

    Pikey, your Tiger would actually be easier to manhandle through this rutted section. However there is an uphill rocky section that would need to be taken with some grace on the Tiger. Overall it should be able to make it though.
    Jeff this is the beginning of the rocky section which are small rocks and are no problem, there's a couple larger rocks in the middle section where it steepens a bit that caused me to sample the soil yet again.

    hansdecker, funny you mention the Huay Tung Thao section as we are off to do it tomorrow. Come along if you're bored. Also did you do a two week Cambodia off road motorbike rally last year?

    Cheers all.
    "Formerly known as the twat, racer55"
  7. Thanks for the info guys and the invite too B&T. Unfortunately(?) I have my mates here still so have to chauffeur them around tomorrow & wednesday. Would be VERY keen to do it on the Tiger so if you find it a good ride tomorrow and fancy doing it again, I'll be up for it.



    "No matter how hard you try, you CAN'T polish a turd!"

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