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  1. #1
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    CO MTB Family Visiting Phoenix Area - Where to stay/ride?

    With snow all over Colorado, work in Tempe in mid-January, and a new Knolly Chilcotin to ride, my family (wife and boys ages 8, 10, and 12) and I are looking to do some riding in the Phoenix area in early January.

    We ride at Winter Park all summer and all over the CO Front Range the rest of the year. The whole family is comfortable on the black trails at Winter Park and fairly technical trails close to home. We race DH, dual slalom, and enduro. We try to stay away from really exposed trails and those that won't be fun with our youngest's 20" wheels. We prefer flowy singletrack when we can find it.

    Earlier this year, we spent a few days in Scottsdale and had a great time on the McDowell comp loops. We've considered going back to that area, but we're open to other suggestions.

    What trails do you recommend in the Phoenix area?

    Is there a particular area we should stay in to find a nice vacation rental and good access to trails?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Just Joshin' ya!
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    If you are looking for flowy and fun for all - Sonoran Mountain Preserve in North Phoenix.
    If you are looking for techy and flowy - National Trail at South Mountain Park
    If you are looking for easy - Papago Park or Desert Classic at South Mountain Park
    If you are looking for epic Colorado like climbs and distance - Black Canyon Trail way up north.

    South Mountain will probably have the most range of easy to hard and it has lots of mileage. You could stay at the AZ Grand Resort. It's pretty nice.

    The Pointe Hilton is literally trailside to Phoenix Mountain Preserve, and there are also lots of good trails from there as well.
    What do we want? TIME TRAVEL! When do want it? THAT'S IRRELEVANT!

  3. #3
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    The Chilli is built for National on SoMo. Ride some flowy trails with the fam but find 3 or 4 hours or so to hit Natty on your own as well. Ride up from Pima lot as far as you want to go....many go to the Buena Vista parking lot and bomb back down Natty the whole way. No exposure but plenty of tech up and down.

    Note: Up Mormon to Natty and up to the BV lot is less than 5 miles but it will feel like 3 times that.: Your Chilli will than you.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by eatdrinkride View Post
    The Chilli is built for National on SoMo. Ride some flowy trails with the fam but find 3 or 4 hours or so to hit Natty on your own as well. Ride up from Pima lot as far as you want to go....many go to the Buena Vista parking lot and bomb back down Natty the whole way. No exposure but plenty of tech up and down.

    Note: Up Mormon to Natty and up to the BV lot is less than 5 miles but it will feel like 3 times that.: Your Chilli will than you.
    ^this. kids could ride Javalina (mebbe) or Desert Classic while you play. Or some great hikes that would overlap part of your route, through some cool bouldery sections that your boys would enjoy.

    For the family, the loops at McDs Park are fun adn the pump track is nice to ride at the same time. Its hard to give advice for kids, but I think Hawes might be really good for you as its not too tech and the climbs are not too long. I think the McDs are out as the climbs too intense and too much mini-chunk hard on small wheels. I would stay away from Papago as its dust on crust, but, the Phx Zoo is great and Papago is right there so you could make a day of it wiht some riding. Rage Cycles is also very close by and has a pump track, but its not a beginner track. I think based on Winter Park your kids will be fine with the tabletops and berms, however.

    If you tell me a little more about what kind of surface and vert for sustained climbs the family could tolerate, could give you better advice. As for places to stay...this is obviously our high season. Scottsdale will be pricey but good locaiton. I'd look for something central (tempe, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale), east valley if you must but not west valley as there is much less for riding choices. Sorry cant help you more with specifics...
    Last edited by chollaball; 12-23-2012 at 10:28 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by chollaball View Post
    If you tell me a little more about what kind of surface and vert for sustained climbs the family could tolerate, could give you better advice.
    Two of our standard rides out here are:
    1. Apex Park in Golden, where we do a smooth switchback climb with about 1200' of elevation gain over about 2.5mi and then take a pretty rocky, technical decent.
    2. Picture Rock at Heil Valley Ranch in Lyons, which is a mix of smooth and rocky, 1000' gain over 5.5mi (and then a descent back along the same trail).

    All of us go down better than we go up. The older boys do bigger jumps and drops than I'm comfortable with, and my wife rode sections of the Zermatt World Cup DH track on our vacation this summer that were too much for me.

    We're willing to climb to get to a good descent. We're just not very good at technical climbing, especially with the 20" wheels on the smallest bike.

  6. #6
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    I would second Black Canyon Trail. It's a bit bumpy in areas but not overly technical and although it is used by hikers, IMBA oversaw the development of this trail and made sure it was mountain-biking suitable. It's pretty vast so I would take a GPS, map, etc.

    Option 2: Cave Creek Regional Park. Fun trail system in the far north part of the valley. Nothing technical but some good climbs (and descents). $6 entry fee, nature center, cabanas and cooking areas. Trail Map: http://www.maricopa.gov/parks/cave_c...e-creek-3d.pdf Website: Parks & Recreation - Maricopa County There are hikers and horses that frequent this trail system but not so bad that you wouldn't have a good time. You can get two really fundescents out of this ride: From the north-most parking lot Take GJ (Go John trail) east to QZ (Quartz trail). Descend QZ to SL (Slate trail). This descent is a blast as it's flowy and fast. Ride Slate west back to JS (Jasper Trail) and connect up to GJ again. Take GJ back to the parking lot and then follow it north out of the parking area. This is a tough switchback climb. Once at the top, follow it to OV (Overton Trail) and take OV back to the parking area. Overton is the other fun descent. In effect you're doing a figure 8 here, but it's a real fun ride.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by rslawrence View Post
    Two of our standard rides out here are:
    1. Apex Park in Golden, where we do a smooth switchback climb with about 1200' of elevation gain over about 2.5mi and then take a pretty rocky, technical decent.
    2. Picture Rock at Heil Valley Ranch in Lyons, which is a mix of smooth and rocky, 1000' gain over 5.5mi (and then a descent back along the same trail).

    All of us go down better than we go up. The older boys do bigger jumps and drops than I'm comfortable with, and my wife rode sections of the Zermatt World Cup DH track on our vacation this summer that were too much for me.

    We're willing to climb to get to a good descent. We're just not very good at technical climbing, especially with the 20" wheels on the smallest bike.
    you might like some of the McDowells proper, the surface is like the comp loops as far as rocky, but more straight up and down. You can do variations that take you on half the climb such as Gateway Loop so its not 1000 ft up. Sounds like you could handle most of the suggestions passed here, but rocks\tech here may differ from your notion and frustrate your kids. Generally, what we call normal people from other places consider somewaht tech. What we call tech people used to buff trails get very unhappy about.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by chollaball View Post
    Sounds like you could handle most of the suggestions passed here, but rocks\tech here may differ from your notion and frustrate your kids. Generally, what we call normal people from other places consider somewaht tech. What we call tech people used to buff trails get very unhappy about.
    That's always the catch, isn't it? You get good at riding your own trails, then you go somewhere else and everything changes.

    Thanks for the advice!

  9. #9
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    Hey man, I don't wanna get all up in your face or nuthin' about the rules, but you repeatedly mentioned a wife, yet you failed to post pics. Please remedy this situation.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eazy_E View Post
    Hey man, I don't wanna get all up in your face or nuthin' about the rules, but you repeatedly mentioned a wife, yet you failed to post pics. Please remedy this situation.
    Hmm. I'm new here; wasn't aware of that one.

    So, here's the whole family at the top of a DH run in Zermatt, Switzerland:

    CO MTB Family Visiting Phoenix Area - Where to stay/ride?-p1030142.jpg

    And here's my wife on the slopestyle line at Valmont Bike Park in Boulder:

    CO MTB Family Visiting Phoenix Area - Where to stay/ride?-img_3818.jpg

  11. #11
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    Stay in Mesa. Good locale for hitting Hawes, South Mountain, Gold canyon K-trail, Picket post, Mcdowell mountain park loops etc. Not really a long drive to anything in the phoenix area. Let us know when you want to roll something new, and for sure you could have us locals help with any ??s or a ride guide to join with you.
    RAM speed: UP, UP, and away....!

  12. #12
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    I've seen a few mentions of the BCT shuttle. Is this something we should be considering for one of our riding days?

  13. #13
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    absolutely put the BCT gnar gnar shuttle ride on your list. Several options/distances to choose from. Doing the shuttle on BCT is cool since it eliminates the out-and-back.

  14. #14
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  15. #15
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    Lyons/Boulder - beautiful area. Haven't ridden Heil, but have Hall Ranch. The family rides Apex? - the South Mountain recommendations are going to be just fine, and close to where you're working.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rslawrence View Post
    Hmm. I'm new here; wasn't aware of that one.
    Nice save.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cookiedough View Post
    The family rides Apex?
    Yeah, it's pretty amazing watching the little guy bomb down some of those rocky sections. I certainly wasn't riding stuff like that at 8.

    Going up the Apex Trail doesn't work as well with the small wheels, so we go up Argos and then back down Apex.

  18. #18
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    A few suggestions for places to stay:
    Orangetree Golf Resort - Scottsdale. (also near to PMP)

    Best Western Plus Inn Suites @ 16th St/Northern (right next to The Pointe
    Squaw Peak Resort - not as pricey, but still good) & right down the street from PMP @ Dreamy Draw trail-head.

    Pointe Tapatio Cliffs (also next to PMP).

    Vacation condos are overpriced & pretty much unavailable at this time of year.

    Search Priceline or CheapOstay (among others for best deals)

    I've stayed at all of these and they are very nice (especially Orangetree).

    Lots of choices/lots of places on N. Scottsdale Road also. Easy to get around in Phoenix!

    Good luck & have fun on our trails.

  19. #19
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    Thanks for all the advice!

    Here's our tentative itinerary:

    Wednesday (1/2/13) Arrive and get settled in, no riding
    Thursday McDowell Loops (to give everybody an early success on something familiar)
    Friday Afternoon Gnar Gnar shuttle on South Mountain with runs down Geronimo and National-Mormon-Javelina
    Saturday FINS
    Sunday BCT Gnar Gnar shuttle, Antelope TH to Gloriana
    Monday TBD (Hawes, Gold Canyon, Cave Creek, repeat of something else we liked, ??)
    Tuesday-Thursday Work 8-4:30 in Tempe, maybe catch a ride after work if there's enough light (Desert Classic?)
    Friday Work until noon and head off to CA for the next leg of the trip

    We found a nice condo to rent near old town Scottsdale, so we're pretty central to all these rides.

    Quote Originally Posted by BIGHORN LEW View Post
    Let us know when you want to roll something new, and for sure you could have us locals help with any ??s or a ride guide to join with you.
    We're familiar with McDowell, and the SoMo and BCT rides sound straightforward with the shuttle based on my conversations with Bob, but we'd welcome anyone who wants to show us around FINS on Saturday and wherever else we end up on Monday.

  20. #20
    Shred...it's the new drug
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    Looks like a full week of shred! Wish I was in your family!

  21. #21
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    FINS is a nice area, don't get me wrong, but I would maybe go somewhere else that day. It's not really a "destination."

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eazy_E View Post
    FINS is a nice area, don't get me wrong, but I would maybe go somewhere else that day. It's not really a "destination."
    I can see that. My thought with FINS on Saturday was to get a fun, but less epic and strenuous, day between the SoMo and BCT rides so I don't burn out the kids.

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