Mountain Biking of Arizona

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Arizona’s mountain bike riding stacks up next to anywhere else in the country with a diverse amount of trails and rides. Take advantage of this winter where Arizona riding provides trails for everyone.

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Hangover (Hard)

8.2 mile expert single track where multiple parts of the track where the track hangs on the precipice of the edge of the cliff. Featured with drop offs ranging roughly between 3-4 feet and off camber sections, so a bike with better suspension would make for a smoother ride. The further through the ride, the smoother the ride gets. The trail is surrounded by red rocks towering above but also drops offs of over 200 feet on each side. While there is uphill, the scenery engulfing it is absolutely breathtaking literally and figuratively. The trail is a combination of riding on rock and dirt. Know going in, if you’re not at the top of your game, you might be doing more hiking than biking. Bring a camera.

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Black Canyon Trail (Medium)

Considered on of the best trails in AZ. While it could extend to 78 miles long, the most common loop starts at Table Mesa for 1.5 miles to Little Pan Loop past the Agua Fria River roughly 6.5 miles and ends back with the 1.5 mile ride back and the trail provides a good amount of twists and drops. The trail is primarily single-track and there are tons of different combinations and trailheads based upon which direction you are coming from, which can be done and can constitute a whole day of riding. You cross back the Agua Fria River multiple times. The ride can be done along the outskirts of the lake allowing for you to be able to hop in the water if too hot. Also bring extra tubes in case some cactus needles pop your tires.

bike8

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Mormon Loop (Hard)

Regarded as best MTB in Phoenix. The trail is pretty technical but also short. At over 6 miles, there is quite a bit of a grade going up the South Mountain. Really rocky but a definite must for anyone with an hour in Phoenix. It does connect to the Desert Classic where the trails are windier and offer drops and dips for users. There are numerous trails that interconnect allowing for different routes for different days. Try to connect down the Desert Classic to Corona de Loma where there it provides access down a long but exposed drop. Go early to beat the foot traffic. Connecting from Mormon Trail to Desert Classic back down Corona de Loma means you should allow for at least 2 hours.

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Aspen Meadow (medium)

If you are looking for a less demanding ride rather than going 21 miles downhill, you can head the other direction and take a collection of a multitude of trails to have bomb time. A wonderful, cool ride, and fun descent, but not incredibly long. Almost eight miles WITH the steep asphalt uphill should you choose to hit the pavement first. If you head up first, it will be almost all singletrack and downhill on the return. The trails soar through the forest providing a unique change in landscape than the rest of Arizona. The top of Mt Lemmon often presides at 30 degrees cooler than Tuscon and sits at close to 8,500 feet. Watch out for sharp turns around tight corners. The uphill on the little used road to the Observatory is fairly tough and the singletrack has some technical challenges (logs, roots, tree stumps, switchbacks, etc.) If you are interested in a challenge and don’t have the two cars allowing  you to travel up and down the mountain, this is another dope option.

 

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Walnut Canyon Trail (Hard)

This ride starts at the large AZ Trail parking lot on Old Walnut Canyon Road. Signs to Fisher Point will guide you the entire way. The first 1.2 miles of the trail roll gently through open pine and oak forest, before descending steeply into a tributary of Walnut Canyon. This stretch of trail drops through interesting terrain and involves several tight switchbacks (watch your speed!) and dips over limestone ledges – it is far and away the most difficult section of riding on the entire route and can be easily walked. The climb back out the south side of the side-canyon is comparatively easy, but will get your lungs pumping!  After 2.2 miles, look for a signed intersection to a spur trail (0.2 miles) to a lookout point. This is a worthwhile detour. The viewpoint itself lies just beyond a fence at the end of the spur trail (look for a short ladder to get you over the fence, leave your bike behind). About a mile further along the AZ trail, you’ll hit a second signed intersection for yet another lookout point. This time the spur is 0.7 miles each way, but don’t wimp out on taking the side trip – this second viewpoint is one of the highlights of the Walnut Canyon Rim! Bike your way onto a limestone rib that juts out into the canyon, getting narrower and narrower as you go. Leave your bike whenever you feel like it, and enjoy the killer views on both sides of the peninsula of land.  Continuing on the AZ Trail toward Fisher Point the ride gets closer and closer to the rim of Walnut Canyon. Eventually, the trail features a spectacular length right along the edge with outstanding views into the canyon (just don’t get too distracted while you ride – its a long way down!). Fisher Point marks the last lookout point on the ride, and the turnaround point back to your car.

sweetwater mtb

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Sweetwater Preserve (Easy)

If you take the trail along the outskirts, it can be an 8 mile ride of fairly easy riding which may have a few intermediate sections every once in a while. The routes interconnect and allow for people to pick and choose different routes.ost Arrow Trail offers a gradual climb that may burn a little for beginners. Homestead Trail: Consists of smooth singletrack allowing for people to be able to ride fast and flowy without a problem. Red Canyon Trail is an mid level of difficulty trail where it intersects with Homestead Trail. Wildflower Ridge will finish you off strong on a fun downhill route allowing to finish with a bang.

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CDO (Hard)

Starts at the top of Mt Lemmon and a network of trails offer options to work your way down to the bottom. These trails about 3/4 singletrack and this is some of the best riding in Southern AZ.The route works your way down a 6,939 foot descent down Mt. Lemmon on a 21 mile ride ending you at the crossroads E Golder Ranch Rd and E Equestrian Trail. 32.47484 -110.89232. This means you need to park one car at the top, and another at the bottom. Around mile 9, there will be an unridable part for nearly a mile where it is difficult to ride due to the rocky centric area.  The top of Mt Lemmon often presides at 30 degrees cooler than Tuscon and sits at close to 8,500 feet.

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