Trails in alphabetical order.


50 Year Trail (Catalina State Park - North of Tucson)
opossum:
The 50 Year Trail is an excellent singletrack trail for riders of all skill levels. I suggest doing the ride with someone who has ridden the trails in that area before. While yardstick and I were rather successful without previous experience, it would certainly help to have a guide show the way to the chutes and good singletrack trails without having to backtrack or spend time on sandy fire roads. Furthermore, it is important to note that a great deal of excellent trail lies farther south than the map shown in Cosmic Rayís book. Our adventure took us well into Catalina State Park, while Cosmicís map ends 4 miles short of the park boundary. A majority of the ride consists of tight twisties along trails with cactus heavily bordering each side of the trail. For the most part, the trails are very soft and smooth, though some parts are like typical Arizona rocky trails. Some parts can get a bit sandy and soft (partly due to equestrian use), meaning that the thought of washing out and sliding into one of the many trailside cacti remains in the back of your mind for the entire ride. Keeping speeds sane makes the ride no more dangerous than walking outside to get the morning newspaper. Climbs and descents are gradual and short-lived, which means the trail is very single-speed friendly and can also be ridden by even the most out-of-shape of riders. The trip from Phoenix is just over 100 miles. Make it worth your while and explore all of the loops and trails that the area has to offer. Pay no attention to Cosmic Rayís Puck-O-Meter and skull-and-crossbones warnings. The trails are only as difficult as you want them to be. We spent three hours out there. You can easily customize your ride to be longer or shorter than that, based on the areas you ride. If an extremely long downhill shuttle run is also of interest to you, be sure and take a look at Cosmic Ray's description of Mt. Lemmon's Samaniego Ridge Trail. The trail is 21 miles long, drops 6000 feet, and exits on the north side of the 50 Year Trail area.
yardstick:
The 50 year trail should be a good one for riders of all skill and fitness levels. I'm not sure the loops that are shown in the Millennium Edition of Cosmic Ray's book are actually out there (at least they weren't accurately portrayed by the maps in the book). We would ride out on a trail, do a little loop, and come back on mostly the same trail that we rode out. There are apparently a lot of new trails in the area as well. You could easily spend the day exploring every offshoot trail. We tried to stick to the main trails which were mostly flat or a slight grade with the occasional rolling hill and quick trip through a wash. Watch out for the prickly pear cactus that lines the sandy singletrack trails. It's a good idea to control your speed out here anyway since it would be easy to blow a turn and end up in a cactus or come into a deep sandy wash with too much speed and get instantly stopped. The chutes at the north end of the park should put a smile on any rider's face, just try not to think about having to climb back up later. The south end of the park has rockier double-track that gets somewhat technical in spots. Overall the trail is definitely worth checking out if you're in the area.

Alta Trail (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
The Alta Trail is one of only a few trails on the rarely ridden west end of South Mountain Park. This trail is only to be ridden by those who have a respectable amount of riding experience and are looking for a bigtime workout. Starting from the north or south face of the mountain, the ride is very similar. Before you is a 1200 foot climb over the course of approximately two miles. The terrain is rather technical, whether you're on the uphill or downhill side. Furthermore, there are several areas with steep cliffs and narrow trail. If cliffs and technical climbs and descents are not to your liking, this is not a trail you ever need to experience. If, however, you like a good, hard climb once or twice a year, give the Alta Trail a shot. You can make a complete loop out of the ride by joining up with the National Trail and Bajada Trail. Take the road from Central Avenue to San Juan Point and you'll have your choice as to which direction to do the trails in.

Bajada Trail (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
The Bajada Trail isn't a standalone trail. Instead, it's a short, show trail you use to access other areas on the west end of South Mountain Park. On the west end, the Bajada meets up with the northern side of the Alta Trail and is not too far from Summit Road. On the east side, you meet up with the National Trail, which can either take you all the way west or around to the north where it meets up with San Juan Point and the north side of the Alta Trail. The Bajada Trail itself is a slow, twisty trail. You won't find anything too technical, but you also won't be able to gain much speed. Grinding away on the Bajada, however, is slightly more entertaining than riding the road the parallels the trail.

Beverly Canyon Trail (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
Much like the Bajada Trail, the Beverly Canyon Trail is rather short and never serves as the core of your ride. The trail begins from the Beverly Canyon parking lot, which is tucked away behind some businesses south of Baseline Road on 46th Street. At the parking lot, the trail links up with the uphill grind of the Javelina Trail. At the other end, the Beverly Canyon Trail dumps out into Loop 1, Loop 2 and the Ridgeline Trail. There is nothing significant to mention about this trail. Not technical, not boring. It just gets the job done, linking you to the trails you're looking to ride. I would advise against starting your ride from Beverly Canyon, as car breakins are common in that secluded parking lot.

Box Canyon Loop (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
This is a trail frequented by the equestrians, down by the Central Avenue entrance to South Mountain Park. On its own, this trail is nothing special. The soil is soft and loose from all the hooves, there are no technical features, and elevation gain is negligible. This trail can basically be used as a connector when you're entering from Central Avenue and/or riding the Ranger Trail, Bajada Trail, or another trail in the center of the park.

Cathedral Rock Loop (Sedona)
opossum:
For those of us from the Phoenix area, the Cathedral Rock Loop is an excellent 'eye candy' ride. There is a little of everything for you to see: scenic Cathedral Rock and the surrounding mountains, soft red clay below your treads, and even running water beside the trail. Having just ridden Mt. Elden the day before, our first trip to Cathedral Rock was a rather relaxed ride. There is nothing entirely technical about the trails, but you'll enjoy the ride anyway. Pick up the pace and you'll have no problems getting a workout. Lucky for us, it doesn't get quite as warm in Sedona as it does in the Valley.

Cave Creek Dam: Union Hills Loop
opossum:
This was a pretty relaxed trail ride. There wasn't anything technical, aside from a few deep ruts and sandy washes that could be trouble if you take them at too high of a speed or aren't paying attention. Overall, the trail is easy, flat, and long. You'll do one big loop around the Cave Creek Dam and dry lake bed. It's a good choice for a night ride, since not much else will excite you about this ride otherwise. There are a few small hills by the dam, but by small, i mean SMALL. Sorry, but this trail isn't much to write about. Do it once, just so you can say you did it. But be sure to go out there with someone who knows the trails! This area is State Trust land that is open to dirtbikes, ATVs, and trucks. As such, there are a LOT of trails leading in every direction. Once you stray north of the Cave Creek and Cave Butte dams, it's easy to get lost. Trust me. I know from experience. A trail that looks like it heads in one direction may very well switch directions on you and send you right at the mining pit. And before you know it, you're running out of sunlight and miles from your vehicle! Umm... or so I've heard. Anyway, grab a State Trust land permit, hook up with a few riders from the Spokesman bike shop nearby, and have them give you a tour of the loop. It's worth doing once and scratching it off your list.

Cave Creek Maricopa County Park: Slate Trail, Go John Trail, Overton Trail
opossum:
The preferred route here is to start on the east side of the parking area on the Slate Trail, then veer left onto the Go John Trail. After about four miles, you'll then turn right onto the Overton Trail, which will guide you around to the west end of the parking area. Doing the loop in this counterclockwise direction will save you a bit of hike-a-bike on the wicked, rocky section about halfway through the loop. Starting off on the Slate Trail and Go John Trail, you'll see a bit of everything. Uphills, downhills, rocky trail, smooth trail. Twists. Turns. You name it. As you ride further, you'll start to appreciate having 21 or more gears... if in fact you have them. There are several spots where a combination of steep inclines and large, loose rocks will limit single-speed climbing. I found myself hoofing it up well over half a dozen short sections. But worry not, my 2-to-1 friends! Even walking short sections of the climbs will tax the calves and lungs. The name of the game is to keep moving. No matter how slow you're riding or how often you have to dismount, there is plenty of fun and challenge to be had if you keep moving. The massive, extremely rocky downhill segment near the middle of the loop will tickle your fancy if you're a fan of extremely hairy, technical downhill riding, while the rolling hills and twisty sections will bring a grin to your face if you're a hardcore cross-country rider at heart. The ride will take somewhere between 1 and 2 hours, depending upon your abilities, stamina, and bike. There are a few other short trails to explore if you finish early and need to wait for a few buddies or just want to make it a longer ride for the $5 you paid at the front gate.
yardstick:
Starting from what we assumed was the correct parking lot, the trail was not very obvious. After some riding on pavement for a short time and picking up a trail map we were able to orient ourselves and get moving. The Slate Trail starts off going southeast from the parking area. After a short stint on Slate, take a left and go uphill on the connector trail to the Go John trail. The turn is fairly obvious and you'll know you've gone the right direction when you start going up-up-up! You're not done there. Continue east on the Go John trail and you'll be greeted by several steep, long climbs. Keep going because the downhill fun is worth it. Just be careful on the downhill because there are loose rocks in at least one place that nearly separated me from my bike at speed. The trail goes through some rolling elevation changes and into a couple of very technical hills. I say technical, but these things would really be a challenge for someone with some good trials skills. As usual what goes up, must come down. The downhills I remember in this section will challenge your line selection abilities. I walked a couple just to be safe. The trail winds around the north side of the hills and tees into the Overton Trail. There are a few more steep climbs that will only really challenge your lungs and legs. The reward this time is some fast wide downhill trail almost all the way to the parking lot. Overall this is a fun trail, but I'm not so sure it's worth the $5 entrance fee to get into the park or the 40 mile drive from the southern Tempe area.

Chiricahua Mountains (Near Willcox in southeastern Arizona): Pinery-Horsefall Trail, Shaw Peak Trail
opossum:
To be frank, this is one ride that was worth doing once... and only once. It was nice to escape the heat of Phoenix and explore the far southeast corner of the state. Starting at 6,000 feet above sea level, yardstick and I were rained on twice before topping out at about 8,000 feet. The rain felt great, as did the overall cooler temperatures. And while the climbing itself wasn't all too bad, our 5-mile climb felt more like 50 miles. The national forest trails we rode probably see less than two dozen visitors per year. Overgrowth and rocks were plentiful, making the 2,000-ish feet of climb that much slower and longer. There's not much else to say about the ride. It isn't a trail I've seen in any mountain bike guides... and I think there's a reason for that. If you're going to hit the Chiricahuas, pack your hiking shoes and leave the frame at home for the weekend.

Corona Loma Trail (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
If you asked me what my favorite trail was for some hardcore, hardtail downhilling, it would probably be a toss-up between Corona Loma and Geronimo. Corona Loma escapes frequent use by nature of being somewhat secluded and not on the official park maps. But for those who have "experienced" the trail, they likely won't forget about it. Having ridden the west end of the National Trail as well as the Alta Trail, I liken the Corona Loma trail to these other trails... on steroids! The top end of Corona Loma begins at Buena Vista. As you travel down the road from the Buena Vista parking lot, Corona Loma is to your left behind the park sign, while the continuation of the National Trail is to your right. Your initiation begins quickly, as you will descend rather quickly into a valley, by means of a steep trail full of loose rock. After a short trek through the wash at the bottom of the valley, you will climb the southern wall of the valley, before descending once again. This time, however, your trip isn't quite so short! Though not quite as high as the peak of the Alta Trail, you'll be descending for a long time. And much like the beginning of this trail, you'll be fighting a quarry of loose rock almost the entire time. Complete with switchbacks, tight crevices, and lengthy drop-offs, this will be enough to challenge any rider, while at the same time inciting rage in those who don't prefer such a challenging and exposure-filled downhill. Ride the full-bounce rig if you must. But if you've got a hardtail or fully rigid machine and a reasonable amount of prowess, lower the seat just a tad and enjoy a first-class downhill adventure!

Crosscut Loop (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
This is a trail frequented by the equestrians, down by the Central Avenue entrance to South Mountain Park. On its own, this trail is nothing special. The soil is soft and loose from all the hooves, there are no technical features, and elevation gain is negligible. This trail can basically be used as a connector when you're entering from Central Avenue and/or riding the Ranger Trail, Bajada Trail, or another trail in the center of the park.

Derby Trail (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
This is a trail frequented by the equestrians, down by the Central Avenue entrance to South Mountain Park. On its own, this trail is nothing special. The soil is soft and loose from all the hooves, there are no technical features, and elevation gain is negligible. This trail can basically be used as a connector when you're entering from Central Avenue and/or riding the Ranger Trail, Bajada Trail, or another trail in the center of the park.

Desert Classic Trail (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
This trail has heavy traffic on it during peak running/hiking/riding times, and for good reason. The trail is not very technical, but is extremely fun for everyone. In fact, the trail is actually getting easier every year, as trail maintenance seems to be transforming the trail into a paved road! Back in 5th and 6th grades, I learned how to mountain bike by riding this trail at least a few times every week. I've put on several hundred miles on the Desert Classic, yet it never gets boring. Cosmic Ray's map and trail description are excellent. Crack the book open if you're considering this trail for the first time. Keep in mind, however, that Cosmic's Puck-O-Meter is probably a bit higher than it should be. There's nothing to worry about on this trail, aside from maybe an occassional rattlesnake!

Estrella Mountain Park Race Loops (West of Phoenix): Long Loop, Technical Loop, Junior Loop
opossum:
Despite being far from 100% for my first ride on the Long Loop, I still thoroughly enjoyed my time on this trail. In many areas, the trail will remind you of the rockiness of Trail #100. It is most definitely a Phoenix trail, with sharp rocks littering the trail for miles. The terrain and topography do change, however. In some areas, you'll find sand and washes - much like the washes you'll dip into on Desert Classic - only this time slightly challenging. Well, maybe not all that challenging if you have 21 or 28 speeds. But they will at the very least grab your attention if you're riding single-speed. Many parts of this trail are smooth and high-speed, while other areas are slow-speed turns and loose rock sections. On the way from 6 o'clock to 12 o'clock on your clockwise loop, you'll encounter some slow, gradual climbing. If you don't have the legs and lungs, you'll know it. The slight ascent will finally wear you down. Later on, you'll do some good high-speed downhilling. Nothing hardcore, but still fast and challenging enough to bring a Kool-Aid smile to your face. I endoed once, though fatigue from a full day of activities was likely partly to blame for my lapse in concentration and effort. All in all, an overwhelming majority of the trail is rideable for riders of any skill level. If you're single-speeding it, there will be a very small handful of spots that simply won't be rideable, given the grade of the incline and the looseness of the trail. But a good 2-to-1 ratio will result in lots of fun! For those with excellent riding skills, finish off the 8-mile Long Loop with a trip around the 5-mile Technical Loop. There really isn't anything different about the Technical Loop, other than the length of the trail. Honestly! What you find on the Long Loop, you'll also find on the Technical Loop. It's not really any easier or any more difficult. If you get the itch to ride just a bit more, combine your Technical Loop or Long Loop ride with a trip around the Junior Loop as well. The Junior Loop splits off from the trail just before the trail splits into the Long and Technical Loops. It's only about a mile long, and will keep you within view of Phoenix International Raceway. The trail simply zig-zags back and forth for a bit, then returns to the main trail just in time for the trail split for the Long and Technical Loops.

Fantasy Island (Tucson): Lone Cactus Loop, Bunny Loop, Christmas Tree Loop, Burro Pit Loop, Bo's Loop
opossum:
Simply put, I had more fun on the Fantasy Island trails than I have ever had on any other trail! That stands to reason, given the fact that the Fantasy Island trails were designed BY mountain bikers, FOR mountain bikers. Having saved a block of desert from the paws of developers, Chuck Boyer and friends built a network of loops with a little of everything to entertain mountain bikers. Tight twisties, wide sweepers, sand, rocks, short climbs, washes, dips, ruts, cacti, bushes, trees... and plenty of bizarre trail decorations. I can't put to words all the cool things about these trails. All I can say is that you MUST ride these trails... regularly. Fantasy Island is the perfect "day after" ride. If you don't live in Tucson, head down there for a weekend. Do a long, hard ride on Saturday, then finish it off with a nice Fantasy Island ride on Sunday. It doesn't matter what kind of bike you're riding or how fast you are. You'll love it. If you do every single loop, you'll put on between 15 and 20 high-speed miles and the grin will be hard to wipe off your face. If you don't enjoy these trails (mechanical problems aside), tell me about it and I'll refund your gas money! Given that the trails lie on State Trust land, you'll need a permit. But worry not. Permits to use all the State Trust land in Arizona are just $15/year. That will give you access to Fantasy Island, Catalina State Park (home of the 50 Year Trail), the trails near Pima and Dynamite Roads, and many other prime riding spots.

Geronimo Trail (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
This is just one freaking awesome dowhnilling trail! The trail drops off the north side of Buena Vista Lookout and catapults you to the base of the mountain near 20th Street and Dobbins Road. There are steep sections, lots of rocks, and lots of tight, switchback turns. If you've ridden the Alta Trail on the west end of South Mountain, the terrain is very similar, but without the deadly cliff exposure you'll encounter 1000 feet high on the Alta Trail. I had no idea what to expect from the Geronimo Trail, but was well aware of the fact that it's a shuttle run favorite for the downhill clan with their massive, high-travel downhill rigs. But worry not, my cross country friends! If you've got some pretty good skills, you'll love bombing down Geronimo just the same on your hardtail. I dropped down the trail at warp speed on my trusty Trek 6500 hardtail singlespeed and didn't encounter a single part of the trail that wasn't rideable. If you have some refined downhill and technical skills and are jonesin' for some juicy downhill action, you'll salivate just as much as I did on Geronimo. Keep in mind that you'll either have to hitch a ride at the base of the mountain or ride the canal back to the other east side trails, however. The bottom of Geronimo dumps out at a Boy Scout camp and doesn't directly connect with any other South Mountain trails. You can hit the end of the Mormon Trail at about 24th Street, but be ready for a rather tough climb back to the peaks of the Mormon Trail that most people are familiar with. Your other option is to just cruise down the canal back to Beverly Canyon, which is south of Baseline Road and 46th Street. If you start at Pima Canyon and head out the National Trail to Buena Vista, bomb down Geronimo, take the canal back to Beverly Canyon, then jump back over to Pima Canyon via the Beverly Canyon Trail and the West Loop, you'll put in a good 13-mile ride and rest easy knowing you did a decent ride.

Hawes Road (Mesa): Hawes Trail, Saddleback Trail, Pig Trail, Spook Trail, Big Saguaro Trail, Mine Trail, and Ridge Trail
opossum:
I see no reason to disagree with ol' Cosmic Ray on this one. Hawes Road is certainly a Primo Trail... or more specifically, a primo SET of trails! Fair warning: You'll be doing a bit of riding on the blacktop to complete the loop. But don't sweat it. You'll enjoy the ride. Parking in the strip mall on the southeast corner of McDowell and Power leaves you 4 miles of roadie pedalin' before you hit the singletrack. But it's a superb warmup, given that it's a long, gradual uphill grind up McDowell and Hawes Roads. There are a few spots that are rather technical. But rookie riders can simply take it slow or walk. The walking (if any) won't last long and you'll be back to enjoying a good, hard ride. A majority of what you will find is good, fast singletrack sweepers. The climbs are short, the descents are fast, and the sweepers are excellent, though a bit sandy in some spots. The sand and high speeds will gauge just how good you are at bike control in the corners and will also reveal just how many knobbies you have left on your tires. Given the overall layout of the trails in this area, I award this ride the Golden Chain Tensioner award for being VERY single-speed friendly! Throw on a 2-to-1 ratio and fly! You'll have a blast out there, much like I have! Find your way out to the west end near the TRW plant. If you're short on water or lung capacity, dump out onto Recker Road and bike lane it back to the parking lot. Otherwise, turn back around and hit some of the other excellent trails and make it an out-and-back adventure.
yardstick:
Parking is scarce near this trail, but your best bet is the grocery store at the SEC of Power & McDowell. Take the roads to the trailhead at the north end of Hawes Road (East on McDowell to Hawes and then North). Take the obviously ridden trails to the start of the singletrack. This is where that uphill riding all pays for itself. Enjoy the fast, mostly downhill and rolling singletrack. The water breaks are flexible, so worry about the patches of soft dirt and rocks before letting those slow you down. More experienced riders will want to hit the technical trails to the north and everyone should experience the fun, fast singletrack trails on the West side of Power Road.

Javelina Trail (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
The Javelina is one of my alltime favorite trails... in both directions. When it comes time to work the legs, nothing can beat the slow grind of climbing the Javelina Trail, then hooking up with either the Mormon Loop or the National Trail. The climb up Javelina will be slow and steady. You don't get much of a break from the climb. There are a few technical parts on the climb, but nothing that can't be climbed by a skilled rider. If you've already done your hard work, I also like to slide down Javelina at warp speed. The consequences of wrecking on the way down may not be pretty, so ride within your limits. Downhill bikes can absolutely fly on this trail, while typical cross country bikes will lose a bit of speed as a result of the rocky terrain. If you hope to be a regular rider at South Mountain, you'll want to pay visits to the Javelina Trail regularly (and in both directions). On the east side, use the Beverly Canyon Trail to access the Pima Canyon parking lot and the other west side trails.
yardstick:
Start from the same area where the Mormon/National trailheads are located. Ride toward Mormon, but keep going North and up the steep rocky climb (think momentum) to where Ridgeline and Javelina start. Hop off of the rock ledges as you get going, but make sure to keep your speed in check. It is easy to get going too fast on this trail and miss a line or just wash out. Every time I ride this trail on my new FS bike I wonder how I did it on my old hardtail, it is ROUGH! The trail is obvious, so follow it until you hit the Beverly Canyon Parking area. There is one tricky climb about 2/3 into the trail and then it's back to the downhill rough stuff. Keep going through the parking lot and take the trail as it bends around some apartment complexes. The trail drops into a wash and there are a couple of options. Take Ridgeline up and then cross over a couple of hills to get back to Pima canyon. Or bear to the left and take the trails next to the apartment complex and some businesses (the preferred route). Practice your trials skills on the large boulders at the beginning of the trail and then speed through the fast rolling singletrack and up some climbs by the golf course. Keep following the trail around the golf course and you'll end up in the middle of the park again where the Pima Canyon parking is visible. This is even more fun in the dark with lights.

Kiwanis Trail (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
For those who are familiar with the saddle where Telegraph Pass meets the National Trail, this area is also the topside trailhead of the Kiwanis Trail. On the inside of the 180 degree turn in the Summit Road, you'll see the Kiwanis trail, which begins with a series of steps. The trail continues down the mountain, eventually reaching one of the ramada areas at the base of the mountain, not all that far from the Ranger Station and the Central Avenue entrance. There are some technical boulder drops on the Kiwanis Trail, but nothing terrible. Overall, it's just yet another South Mountain trail to experience every so often. I'd suggest using Kiwanis as a connector when doing a loop that involves the National Trail, either from the east or the west. At the bottom of Kiwanis, you can hook up with some other assorted trail to either head back towards Pima Canyon to the far east, or the San Juan area to the far west.

Las Lomitas Trail (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
This is a trail frequented by the equestrians, down by the Central Avenue entrance to South Mountain Park. On its own, this trail is nothing special. The soil is soft and loose from all the hooves, there are no technical features, and elevation gain is negligible. This trail can basically be used as a connector when you're entering from Central Avenue and/or riding the Ranger Trail, Bajada Trail, or another trail in the center of the park.

Long Loop (McDowell Mountains)
opossum:
There is nothing special about this trail. It's not technical like the shorter loops immediately north. It's not nearly as long as the Pemberton Trail further into McDowell Mountain Park. It's not boring like a ride to your grandma's house. It's just a nice, fun, short ride. You'll encounter some descents into sandy washes, some rocky downhills and climbs, some rutted downhill slopes that will keep your speed in check, and then miles of soft stuff that won't make you pucker at all. I clocked the ride at just shy of 8 miles, while the official park literature says you'll cross the line at 8.2 miles. You'll break a sweat, work the legs, and keep the heart rate high, but you won't bust a rib unless you're just asking for it. Some spots will test your composure, seeing as how you'll probably end up going faster than you should. The park entrance fee is $5, but well worth it, seeing as how these trails are well-maintained with mountain bikers in mind. Much like the Estrella loops, they maintain these trails for mountain bikers. Keep in mind that much like the other loops in this park, the Long Loop is one-way traffic! I rode somewhat hard and finished singlespeed style in just under 45 minutes on the clock. If that isn't enough for you, you're a stone's throw from three other loops that will more than double the mileage you can put on. If I had to sum it up in just a few words: Me likee this trail!

Loop 1 & Loop 2 (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
I noticed a while back that these two trails have been given less cryptic names. They're now labeled as the East Loop and West Loop. On their own, these two trails can be rather short and bland. I typically use a part of one of these trails in conjunction with the other trails in the area. It's tough to describe these trails, given that the terrain changes quite a bit. In some parts, you'll be climbing and descending hills. In other areas, you'll be slowly navigating rocky, twisty sections. What you're guaranteed to find is typical rocky trail.

Max Delta Trail (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
This is a trail frequented by the equestrians, down by the Central Avenue entrance to South Mountain Park. On its own, this trail is nothing special. The soil is soft and loose from all the hooves, there are no technical features, and elevation gain is negligible. This trail can basically be used as a connector when you're entering from Central Avenue and/or riding the Ranger Trail, Bajada Trail, or another trail in the center of the park.

Mormon Loop / Mormon Trail (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
This trail is well known as the "alternative" to climbing the National Trail switchbacks. Most riders will catch up with the east end of the Mormon Loop, then catch up with National Trail a few miles west and either continue west or return to Pima Canyon by heading down the National Trail. You'll still have plenty of steep, technical climbs to tackle, but they won't be as long as the trek up National. The second section of this trail is far less traveled. Just shy of the western junction with the National Trail, the Mormon Trail heads down to the north. The descent is just over a mile long, but is steep, rocky, and very technical. It isn't quite as hairy as the Telegraph Pass Trail, but it's certainly a stiff challenge for hardtail riders (and most freeriders too, I suppose). Once down at the base, you'll be at 24th Street, at which point you can head over to the Western Canal and head east to meet up with the Javelina Trail (42nd Street) or Beverly Canyon (36th Street).

Mt. Elden, Part 1 (Flagstaff): Brookbank Trail, Sunset Trail, Little Bear Trail, Little Elden Trail, and Schultz Creek Trail
opossum:
The set of trails shown above make for an excellent 15+ miles of riding. Provided you have the legs and lungs, I highly recommend starting at the base of Mt. Elden, from the dirt parking lot along Schultz Pass Road. Doing the trails in the order shown above, you'll trek up the dirt road for a bit, climb to the summit of Mt. Elden via the Lower and Upper Brookbank Trails, ride the ridge for quite a ways, and then bomb down. The climb is steep and evil. We're talking well over 1000 feet of evil, in a not-so-long length of trail. If you're riding a singlespeed, you will suffer. If you're out of shape, you will turn back. If you're weak, you will cry. But trust me, you'll be happy you did the climb. The trails wind through the pines and make for a gorgeous ride, as compared to the desolate mountains of the Arizona desert. Once you get most of the climbing out of the way, you'll soon realize that it was all worth it. The trip down Little Bear Trail and Schultz Creek Trail are spectacular! It is great to ride trails surrounded by plants that have large canopies and no needles. Temperatures at that altitude will be excellent in the summer months as well. The terrain is only technical in some spots, which won't make a newbie rider think twice about continuing on. Speeds can get rather high on some portions of the descent, which means riders doing Mt. Elden for the first time shouldn't go nuts and crash like I have done twice.

Mt. Elden, Part 2 (Flagstaff): Lower Oldham Trail, Rocky Ridge Trail, Jane's Trail
opossum:
This ride scores high marks for being challenging and fun singletrack, all within a 5 minute drive of downtown Flagstaff. Starting from Buffalo Park and heading straight through, you'll soon meet up with the Lower Oldham Trail, with a short downhill to whet your appetite, then a loooooong 700' uphill climb to test your mental strength. After the torture, you'll be rewarded with excellent rolling singletrack, which varies from high-speed to technical. Crossing over the Mt. Elden Lookout Road, you can hook up with a highly technical ride along the Rocky Ridge Trail for a while, then return via Jane's Trail or any of the other singletrack paths along the base of Mt. Elden. Your reward for the strong effort on the climb will be a superb downhill, high-speed experience. Make sure your brakes are fully functional!

National Trail (South Mountain Park)
opossum:
NOTE: This is my favorite trail ever!!! In case the Puck 10 and "Teacher of Terror" warnings from Cosmic Ray weren't obvious enough, I'll spell it out for you. The National Trail is NOT for beginners! Experienced riders usually enjoy the National Trail, but for different reasons. The far east end of the National is either known for being a killer technical climb that never seems to end, complete with enormous rocks to hop... or as a groovy and fast downhill set of switchbacks with plenty of rocks to drop off of. Beyond the switchbacks and climbing, the National Trail continues west and only gets better. It remains highly technical in many areas, then progresses into narrow trail along ridges before meeting up with Buena Visa Lookout and Summit Road further west. It's important to note that the National Trail stretches from the east end of South Mountain Park all the way to the east end. Experienced valley riders must make it a point to do at least one end-to-end ride, if not an up-and-back or some other long ride including all of National. For those weekday rides where time is of the essence, do the popular loop by hitting the National Trail from Pima Canyon and linking up with the Mormon Loop.

Papago Park (Phoenix)
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Having now seen all of Papago's trails, I can appreciate its variety and its ability to work your legs and lungs if you let it. Sure, it's still the same Papago it was several years ago: fast loop on the west end with blind corners and hills that aren't so technical on the north and east ends. The best way to enjoy Papago is to just make one big loop out of it. If you're ambitious, make it two laps or ride it single-speed. You'll work the legs and still enjoy the ride. Papago will always be a draw for newbies. If ya know a newbie, take him/her out there! But if you're a seasoned veteran biker, don't pass it up. You can't beat Papago with a stick! It's in the middle of town and can be as long or short as you want the ride to be!

Pemberton Trail (McDowell Mountains)
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The story of the Pemberton Trail revolves around over-aggressive trail grooming. What once used to be 16 miles of excellent technical trail is now highly groomed and getting more and more mild every year. Every so often, however, you need to travel out there, pay the park fee, and ride the McDowell Mountains trails. Riding counterclockwise, you'll begin with about 5 miles of gradual climb, follow it up with about 5 miles of flat swoops, then finish with about 5 miles of gradual downhill. Pemberton is a great trail to do as a group, provided you all ride at around the same pace. Otherwise, find a partner of about the same skill and use the long loop as a nice time trial. Once again, if you're ambitious, you can ride it twice!

Pima Wash (South Mountain Park)
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Pima Wash is simply a fun alternative to taking the National Trail fire road back to the Pima Canyon parking lot at South Mountain Park. Halfway down the fire road from the stone houses, veer to the left and slide onto the Pima Wash. It starts off as a high-speed, rolling trail, then drops down into the water runoff wash. Sand is aplenty and speeds are slow, but it's far more entertaining that riding the wide, rocky fire road.

Ridgeline Trail (South Mountain Park)
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This is a trail that I don't do very often, but only because it would be rather difficult to do on my single-speed. The name of the game on the Ridgeline Trail is steep climbs, followed by steep descents. The dirt and rock can get rather loose on the climbs, making traction rather tough to get sometimes. Like many of the trails north of the Pima Canyon parking lot, the Ridgeline Trail is often used to connect up with other trails in the area.

Sedona (Jordan, Teacup, Thunder Mtn, Ridge, Carol Canyon, Crescent Moon Park, Cathedral, Templeton, Bell Rock Pathway, Mystic)
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This is a nice set of Sedona trails that aren't really worthy of individual reviews. Many of these trails are short and uneventful all by themselves. Together, however, these trails make for an excellent north-to-south trek across Sedona. With a few short road connections, you'll find that you can travel nearly the full length of Sedona on dirt! Be prepared for a long ride, with several hike-a-bike spots, especially if you're riding one gear. Overall, however, these are some nice trails, with nice scenery. You'll pass by Oak Creek, Cathedral Rock, and several other very memorable Sedona landmarks. And of course if you want to cap off your ride with a beverage or nice meal, you'll have that opportunity as well once you drop out into Sedona proper and make your way back to your vehicle via the highway. Given that each map shows different sections of this ride, I highly suggest doing these trails with someone who is very familiar with Sedona trails. Not everything is marked and it can be quite easy to lose your way. You'll always know how to get back to your vehicle, but that won't necessarily be the way you want to ride!

Sonoran Loops (White Tank Mountains)
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The White Tank Mountains Sonoran Loops trail network turned out to be more than I had expected. I went out there knowing that 90% of the ride would be wide, flat jeep road. I expected to fall asleep mid-ride. The only thing I thought would bring excitement to the ride would be the fact that it was the resurrection of my singlespeed with all new components and new chain tensioner. But I was all wrong. The loops were short and quick, but still rather nice. Nothing difficult, but nothing to fall asleep on. You'll see some gradual climbs, some climbs full of babies heads, some sandy washes, and some general flat stuff. Taking the short Technical Loop singletrack extension made for an excellent deviation from the jeep roads. The whole loop was less than 6 miles and took less than 40 minutes of ride time to complete. If not strapped for time, I suggest doing at least two laps, if not more if you decide to repeat the Technical Loop over and over again.

Starr Pass (Tucson Mountains)
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If I post any other reviews on this trail, you'll see that it gets a pretty bad rap from the buddies that I rode the trail with. But I thoroughly enjoyed this trail! Armed with my circus peanuts, I had a good time riding the trails at the base of the Tucson Mountains. The major complaint is Yetman Trail, which is basically a 2-mile wash, complete with deep sand and babies' heads. While the wash may have been a bit long, I saw it as a decent challenge and didn't let it take away from the excellent trails we rode. Remember guys and gals, there is a reason why Cosmic Ray gives this trip a "Primo Trail" designation!

Telegraph Pass Trail (South Mountain Park)
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The Telegraph Pass Trail is without a doubt the most technical portion of trail in Phoenix. Steep rocks to climb or drop off of will leave a majority of riders doing the hike-a-bike routine. A small handful of riders may be able to drop down Telegraph, but most will simply use it as a means of connecting with the end of the Desert Classic Trail or the National Trail up top.

Thunderbird Park: H1, H2, H3, H4, H5
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Much like the Cave Creek Dam Union Hills Loop, this is a north valley spot that will never be mistaken for the mountain bike mecca of the world. To the contrary, Thunderbird Park was not fun at all! From what I'm told, the Thunderbird Park hills are volcanic, which would explain the "odd" look of the rocks! But it's not just a few rocks here and there, but a plethora of them covering the trails! The first loop I did on the west end of the park wasn't too bad. But I completed it at a leisurely pace in less than 20 minutes. The remainder of my ride is one I will not soon forget. My average speed probably dropped to about 5 mph. The rocks were everywhere and really put a wrinkle in an otherwise nice set of small mountains! Singlespeed, geared bike, hardtail, full suspension... it doesn't matter. Most of these trails are simply NOT bike friendly. The downhills were a decent challenge, given all the large rocks that I had to avoid or rebound off of. But the flat sections and climbs were simply a pain in the gluteus. At the time that I'm writing this, I only live about 4 miles from the trails... yet I probably won't visit the park ever again on two wheels. I'd much rather wait half a year until I have a car so I can travel to decent trails.

Trail 100 (Phoenix Mountain Preserves)
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Given its location in central Phoenix, Trail 100 is an excellent trail to do regularly. To the west you'll find some good climbing sections extending out to about 7th Avenue. To the east, the trail flattens out a bit and speeds increase. You'll be in prime pinch-flat country, as sharp Arizona rocks are abundant. Riding the full length of Trail 100 will expose you to some hard climbs, some moderately technical sections, and lots of overall good riding. For a virgin Trail 100 experience, start at the Dreamy Draw parking lot and head out in one direction and back.

Trail 100A, 220, 8, 8A, 1A (Phoenix Mountain Preserves)
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These trails, in addition to some short, unmarked trails, make for some great variety to the standard Trail 100 ride at the Phoenix Mountain Preserves. If you're interested in incorporating these trails into your ride, the best thing to do is invest in a few trips to the Dreamy Draw parking lot and simply "explore." Soon, you'll find a nice combination (or two) of trails that make for great riding. Much like Trail 100, you'll find a little of everything in these trails.

Trail 306 (Phoenix Mountain Preserves)
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This is yet another trail (like the Alta Trail or Cave Creek Dam area trails) that you need to do once in a blue moon just to say you've done it. If any mountain biker thinks about the Phoenix Mountain Preserves, Trail 100 instantly comes to mind - and for good reason. Trail 100 is the trail to take. But Trail 306 adds a bit of spice to an everyday Trail 100 ride. Trail 306 is at the very west end of the Preserves. From the parking lot on Central just south of Thunderbird, you have two options: clockwise or counterclockwise. Let me suggest counterclockwise! I took the trail clockwise and learned the lesson the hard way. Supposing you went counterclockwise, you'll begin by immediately climbing a 4-wheel drive road for perhaps a mile. It's steep, it's a bit loose, and it won't be much fun. It's not what you would call "pristine singletrack." If you love punishment like me, perhaps you'll enjoy it immensely. It's actually an access road to the towers at the top of Shaw Butte. After the climbing is over, you'll swing around from the north side of Shaw Butte to the west side. It stays relatively flat for a while, then you'll curve around the south side and descend. The descent will be quite rocky. You'll encounter lots of babies' heads, as well as several rock steps. My clockwise loop had me hike-a-biking (or carrying) the singlespeed. But the descent should be fun, assuming you like a nice, steep, technical downhill. After perhaps a mile of dowhill, you'll reach the base of the Butte, not too far from the Mountain View Park entrance to the Preserves. Take a left at any trail intersection and you'll be pointed north through a small valley. You're only about another 1.5 miles from the parking lot. It's a short loop (about 5+ miles), so you can lengthen it by detouring to the right onto Trail 100.

Walnut Canyon (Flagstaff): Arizona Trail
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Due to time constraints, yardstick and I were only able to navigate the eastern half of the Arizona trail. Taking Monument Road towards the Walnut Canyon National Monument Visitor Center, you'll see a turnoff to the right for the Arizona Trail. The trailhead is 1.7 miles down the dirt road. After a brief jaunt to the rim of Walnut Canyon, the Arizona Trail then drops down into the canyon. The descent is rather sandy and tight at times, which will test even the most skilled rider. Chances are good that you'll at least put a foot down once or twice. Immediately after dropping down into the canyon a bit, you'll begin climbing back out. But worry not, for you aren't climbing back out of Walnut Canyon from the absolute bottom, which remains several hundred feet below the lowest point of the Arizona Trail. The climbs are also sandy and technical in many areas. A few miles into the ride, things get much, much better. Sand and rock remain in some areas, making it just challenging enough to keep you awake. In general, however, the trail flattens out and takes a rather scenic and high-speed path along the rim of Walnut Canyon. Single-speeders will surely enjoy the trip from here on out. If you have more than a few hours to spend, continue on to Fisher Point and beyond, which will put you within spitting distance of the NAU campus.
yardstick:
We tried the entrance to the Arizona trail at Walnut Canyon from the West side close to NAU, but it was under construction. Cosmic Ray's book shows an entrance from the east side with a trail and a Forest Service road. Save yourself some time and just look for the Forest Service road and then drive that to the trailhead. It is fairly obvious when you see it. There is no trail that comes out on the main road. As far as riding this trail, it is fun and fast for the first couple of miles, even in the initial uphill sections. The trail seems to end abruptly at another Forest Service road, but taking a left will get you back on track and riding trail again. There are a few sections of trail that turn south to overlook the canyon. Don't worry though, you'll see quite a bit of canyon when you ride into it! The dirt is powdery and the switchbacks are technical. This is going to be a hike-a-bike section for most people. Once you're clear of this section of trail it gets immensely better. It is mostly rolling hills and scenic views in the Northern Arizona woods. Definitely take some of the side trails to see a close-up view of the canyon.