The Sonoran Desert surrounding Tucson, AZ is a magical landscape filled with vibrant life. Here, you'll encounter almost every type of cactus imaginable, along with hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails!Less
The Full Lemmon Drop is easily one of the most epic mountain bike shuttle runs in the United States. Starting on top of 9,157-foot Mount Lemmon, this route connects the best trails in the region into a massive 29-mile route from mountain summit to valley floor. Even though this is a "shuttle run," riders will still pedal up 3,700 feet of elevation… but that climbing scores you a solid 10,000 feet of descending, for a whopping 6,300 feet of net elevation loss.
The CDO descent follows classic backcountry singletrack trails through alpine forests, and eventually drops all the way into the Sonoran Desert. While some sections of trail are loamy and flowy, "gnar" is the name of the game on the CDO. Chunky rock gardens, abrupt corners, ledge drops, and even more chunk demand that riders stay alert at all times due to ever-changing trail conditions.
The Golder Ranch area sits just northeast of the Tucson suburb of Oro Valley and offers a sometimes confusing myriad of trails, some of which are better than others. This route provides a great way to link up the best bits into an entertaining 14-mile route.
The Sweetwater Trail System is a classic, scenic desert singletrack, with a mix of smooth, fast, sandy stretches and techie, rocky, challenging sections. There isn’t much elevation here, but some of the short climbs snake their way through some pretty rocky sections that cyclists will either love or hate, dependent on whether or not they fall over and land in a bed of sharp rocks.
The Honeybee Canyon Trail is a classic, scenic mountain bike ride that beginners will enjoy for its lack of hardcore technical features and the more experienced cyclists will find enjoyable for the sheer speed it encourages. The new Big Wash Trailhead makes for a better entrance to the trail than the previous trailhead. It is located just off State Highway 77, and for mountain bikers who are camping, it is just a couple miles from Catalina State Park.
Fantasy Island has long been a coveted Arizona mountain bike trail, drawing riders from across the Desert Southwest. This trail is unique in the Tucson area as a one-way directional mountain bike trail. This directional flavor has allowed the builders to construct the trail for maximum flow, and to remove the annoyance of constantly passing other trail users that’s found on most other trails in the area.
The Starr Pass Loop through Tucson Mountain Park provides a well-rounded mountain bike ride in an easily-digestible package. Neither too steep nor too flat, too technical nor too easy, this blue/black ride provides a delightful sample of the Tucson Mountains and the beauty that you can experience here.
More than just a single peak, Brown Mountain consists of several small summits along a low ridge measuring 1.5 miles long. The route mapped here is a quick but beautiful 4.6-mile lollipop that traverses the entirety of the ridge on visually-stunning, exposed singletrack. The recommended route wraps around the base of the mountain to reach the northwestern end of the ridge. You'll then climb onto the ridge and traverse up and down the several small summits on your way back to the trailhead.
24 Hours in the Old Pueblo (24HOP) is one of the oldest and largest 24-hour races in the world. While you can, of course, sign up for the race in February, you can also choose to pedal the course on your own at any time of the year. The route is specifically optimized for 24-hour racing, with miles of smooth singletrack and segments of dirt road and doubletrack for passing.