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  1. #1
    Tucson, AZ
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    Top 10 Most Underestimated AZ Rides

    My love for long day rides has taken me to see far reaching singletrack here in Arizona. During my last 16-hour ride last Sunday on the Antelope Peak Challenge, I decided to make a list of the Top 10 Underestimated Rides here in Arizona that I have ridden in the past 8 months.


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    1. Ripsey Segment on the AZT near Kelvin
    A little on the remote side, but you can do it from the Florence-Kelvin Highway as a loop or simply park on Freeman Rd near Antelope Peak/Willow Springs Area. This is best ridgeline trail in all of Arizona.












    2. Brown Mountain and Golden Gate, Tucson Mountain Park


    One of my favorite rides in the Tucson area. Many people just do one or the other, when you can combine both Brown and Golden, you get a sweet, chunky ride. Linking up can be done in several ways, either via Prospertor or Gates Pass Trail.







    3. Red Ridge Epic, Mt Lemmon

    Red Ridge drops off the back side of Mt Lemmon, dropping some 6k feet in less then 4 miles. Epic indeed. Not for the faint at heart, but it is very rewarding. Make sure to get the current beta for this ride it has been known to be lined with downed trees and tons of scratchy bushes.









    4. Yaeger (#28) or Trail 105, Mingus Mountain, Prescott

    Few have ever ventured up 105. It is normally done as a shuttle ride down to Cottonwood. It is a great ride up (until the very end) and you'll have a lot more time to take some shots. Parking at Jerome and taking some double track to 105 is a quick way to see this trail. Trail #28 is fast, fun and short.








    5. Bill Williams Mtn, Williams, AZ

    Aspen singletrack on one side, tight fun switchbacks on the other side. Best done as a sem-epic loop from town.







    6. Box Canyon Rd to Pistol Hill, AZT Jamboree Route, Sonoita

    With almost 95% singletrack, this 38 mile shuttle ride is a blast. Done as a fundraiser ever year for the AZT, it will make you grin the entire way.













    7. Picket Post on AZT, Superior

    The "BCT (Black Canyon Trail) of Superior", the Picket Post trail is a little more technical but just well-built. As soon as people from Phoenix realize this is their backyard, I guarantee it will see a lot more traffic. If you finish early and want some grub, stop by Los Hermanos in Superior for the amazing green/red chile burritos. Best done as two out-n-backs from the Picket Post parking lot.



    8. Riding out on East Mesa on the Kaibab, AZT

    Speechless. After you see the view and the singeltrack. All too often, mountain bikers only do the Rainbow Rim Trail on the west side. Big mistake. The AZ Trail offers equally stunning views with better singletrack. For a real epic, start at Sublime Pt Rd in the National Park and go to Jacob Lake (shuttle required). Or consider doing the Kaibab Monstercross.









    9. Cherry Tank and Upper 50, 50 Year Trail, Tucson

    Climb, climb, climb. Few people venture up to Cherry Tank at the 50 Year Trail. If you add trails like Around the Mountain, Buddha, Deer Camp, or Baby Jesus, you'll want to never leave. Plenty of b-line options for those with bigger bikes. This is the big bike mecca of Tucson.










    10. Upper Javelina and Wild Mustang, Tortolitas near Tucson

    Less than a handfull of people have ridden this trail since it was constructed a year ago. If you love tight switchbacks, steep techy climbs, this is a must do ride. You can do it as an out-n-back in about 3 hours, or make it into an epic loop (a GPX file would be required for any loops) into the heart of the Tortolitas.















    Reposted from my blog if you want to see the original post.
    Last edited by azepicriderandrunner; 01-31-2010 at 07:16 PM.

  2. #2
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    I've got 6 of them in my stash of memories. Hope to make it 7 next weekend.

  3. #3
    Lone Wolf McQuade
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    Your posts are always awesome
    I should be out riding....

  4. #4
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    Very inspiring stuff. Thanks.

  5. #5
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Just remember that in the summer-time, Williams is WAY too far from Phoenix.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  6. #6
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    i was all in until i read 'scratchy bushes'.
    fcuk that sh!t - no way am i dealing with that.

    awesome post and pics.

  7. #7
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    Wowzers Chad!! Great post.
    Quote Originally Posted by buddhak
    And I thought I had a bike obsession. You are at once tragic and awesome.

  8. #8
    Pwning Trails
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    Sweet pics ... this one looks to have a guy with a rifle in the background (top left) hehe ...
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Top 10 Most Underestimated AZ Rides-max.jpg  


  9. #9
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    Great pics!!!

  10. #10
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    One of the best posts ever on mtbr. Those really are 10 of my favs

    Thanks for posting
    " the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." C&H

  11. #11
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    Mods, please make this a sticky for Newbies on where to Ride in Arizona.

  12. #12
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    Killer Pics !!

    I miss AZ. this time of year.Looks like a lot of fun. Thanks.

  13. #13
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    Great post Chad. very inspiring! Nice start to a new Bucket list for AZ riding. thanks for the stoke!
    b

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tg
    I miss AZ. this time of year.Looks like a lot of fun. Thanks.
    x2. I just moved back to indiana 3 months ago and posts like this make me miss it. I am enjoying the snow as we speak but miss all the single track.
    and the lurker returns to the dark corner

  15. #15
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    Augh! I'm only batting 800 on this list!

    Missing: Picket Post and Mustang. Time to get back out there.

    Good list, Chad. I'll hook this into the VISITORS sticky.
    Don't be that guy! Read the forum guidelines.

  16. #16
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    Very nice.

    Gotta spend a little time in AZ this year...

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul B
    Good list, Chad. I'll hook this into the VISITORS sticky.
    Thanks, Paul! Good catch!
    Last edited by Boyonabyke; 02-01-2010 at 10:58 AM.

  18. #18
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    Chad, seriously consider making an mtbaz site
    " the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." C&H

  19. #19
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    Great post, have done Number 4 numerous times. Number 10 looks interesting!

  20. #20
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    wow, gr8 post!
    chad, when is the fundraiser held for trail #6? looks like my kind'a trail - cool xc single track, not too technical...or is it??
    "If God is your co-pilot you're in the wrong seat!" S Barrington

  21. #21
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    This is a great thread.

  22. #22
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    Bookmarked for when I dust my bike off in a few weeks. Thanks, CB.

  23. #23
    Tucson, AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaboose
    wow, gr8 post!
    chad, when is the fundraiser held for trail #6? looks like my kind'a trail - cool xc single track, not too technical...or is it??
    We had it a few weeks ago. It will be next January 2011. Website here. It is your kind of trail from Saguarita Rd to Pistol Hill...20 miles of goodness. See said website for GPX file and maps.

  24. #24
    Tucson, AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul B
    Augh! I'm only batting 800 on this list!

    Missing: Picket Post and Mustang.
    Well done, I am very impressed that you managed to hit 8/10 of them. When Picket Post (#7) and Ripsey (#1) finally connect via the Arizona Trail with White Canyon (which could be #11 on the list), people are going to be riding from Superior to Oracle only to be left speechless. Some amazing countryside out there. We all have more trail to explore in Arizona...

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by slugobikes
    I've got 6 of them in my stash of memories. Hope to make it 7 next weekend.
    Test Results 4-7 of the Rides Completed: You are a riding fool and know Arizona very well. Nonetheless, your years as a cross country rider years ago still have you used to doing laps, or perhaps you are learning to use a GPS. If you master the GPS, you will complete all 10 by the end of the year. Another thing, you not only ride the trails, but you build them, so you have your priorities straight.

  26. #26
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    Chad, your photography is coming along really well!

  27. #27
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    Those are all good for sure. You need to come ride Goat Camp (the old way with the longer climb) and the Red Mtn Epic.
    I need to get down there for a dose of Brown Mtn and Golden Gate.
    This is just need to know information: Am i supposed to enjoy the irony or pity the sincerity?

  28. #28
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    Picket Post 411

    I'm considering doing Picket Post this weekend.

    Can anyone provide info as to where to start and how to find the trail? I figure once we hit the AZT we can ride south for as long as desired and then return. Hoping for a minimum of 4 hrs ride time.

  29. #29
    Tucson, AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtownmtb
    I'm considering doing Picket Post this weekend.

    Can anyone provide info as to where to start and how to find the trail? I figure once we hit the AZT we can ride south for as long as desired and then return. Hoping for a minimum of 4 hrs ride time.

    I will put up more directions later, in the meantime here is the entire AZ GPX Network file available on Bikepacking.net.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtownmtb
    I'm considering doing Picket Post this weekend.

    Can anyone provide info as to where to start and how to find the trail? I figure once we hit the AZT we can ride south for as long as desired and then return. Hoping for a minimum of 4 hrs ride time.
    There's a nice big sign for the trailhead right off SR 60. You will probably be heading East, so it will be a right hand turn. It's just before Boyce Thompson Arboretum. Then there is a short drive on gravel/dirt to the parking area; also marked with signs. Once on the AZ trail (heading South) it's about 8 mi one way to Telegraph Cnyn Rd (Jeep Rd). This section of the trail is Single Speed rated. You will enjoy it!
    http://www.aztrail.org/passages/pass_17.html

  31. #31
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    Great! Thanks guys!

    The .gpx and the descriptions should be most helpful. Looking forward to checking it out.

  32. #32
    My other ride is your mom
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    wear stuff you don't mind getting ripped by cat claw

  33. #33
    sprocket
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  34. #34
    livin' the dream......
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    Great pics, and I have NONE of these rides under my belt.........ouch.

  35. #35
    "No Clue Crew"
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    WOW, Great photos!!! Adding a few to my list!........Drew

  36. #36
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    Picketpost

    Great trail. Rode out there last Sat. Couple wash crossings had little bit of water which you can splash thru. Made it out to the road which to me seemed quite a bit further than the 8 miles it is. Last couple miles before you hit the road the catclaw gets a little worse but is not that bad, just makes it more interesting. Turning around and riding back is well worth the effort.

    By the way, can anyone clean, up or down, those really sharp series of switchbacks shortly before hitting the road intersection? I had a really difficult time to say the least but my switchbacking skills are less than stellar.

  37. #37
    Tucson, AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsittman

    By the way, can anyone clean, up or down, those really sharp series of switchbacks shortly before hitting the road intersection? I had a really difficult time to say the least but my switchbacking skills are less than stellar.
    I have honestly only gone down those switchbacks....the Ripsey Segment of the AZT has some sweet switchbacks also.


    Anyone riding any of these trails this weekend? I know Krein and Lee are bikepacking Ripsey this weekend to see the wildflowers.

  38. #38
    Tucson, AZ
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    Some of these trails are under attack and could become Wilderness. Today, April 30th, is the last day to send an email.

    See here for more information.

  39. #39
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    Geat post...we really do live in a beautiful place...made my day

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianc
    Great post Chad. very inspiring! Nice start to a new Bucket list for AZ riding. thanks for the stoke!
    X2 Nice data for me to start looking outside of the valley for some riding.

  41. #41
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    I just found this thread Chad, makes me look forward to the Jamboree next week! I actually just posted a trail description for the Upper Jav loop here too. Maybe that will attract a few people to the playground

  42. #42
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    Chad and I just finished the ripsey section "wow" is all I can say!
    How people are not riding it is a shame, now one of my favs.

  43. #43
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    GREAT THREAD and great info!!!!!..........Drew

  44. #44
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    Another GREAT post!!! Truely motivatioanal, inspirational images and write up!!

  45. #45
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    Holy crap I cannot wait to move there in June!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  46. #46
    Tucson, AZ
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    Thought it was about time for another must do ride in Arizona...

    #11 Area 52, Florence
    It's tough to really imagine how big this place really is...I will let the pictures do the talking. This place is a bigger bike jungle of slickrock that some of us racer types can only pretend to handle. That said, the lighting each year time I go out here is unbelievable. This is the best time of year to venture out there as the place is exploding with color. A few pictures from this weeks bikepacking trip.










    Each time I ride out here, I always mumble the same two things: this place is going to be one day famous and why is that I only visit this place twice a year!?












    Next three photos by Scott Morris





    Get out and ride somewhere different (as I know only about 10 people that have ridden out here).
    Last edited by azepicriderandrunner; 04-05-2011 at 09:01 PM.

  47. #47
    Shred...it's the new drug
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    doh...another winter/spring gone and I didn't make it out there. maybe we do a big fall event out there, camp and shred. thanks for the pics, stoke and exploration!!!

  48. #48
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    # 10, my backyard! I am hugely fortunate to be able to ride up there from my house in 20 mins. I was just up Upper Javelina at the weekend after being away for a couple of weeks, and it was so good. I totally got in the zone on the way up, managed more than most other times, and the way back down was just smooth and flowing, just the ticket for a great ride! I love them rocks!

  49. #49
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    Thanks for the re-stoke Chad!! Heading out to experience Ripsey for the first time on Sunday!! Can't wait.
    I ride the crappy trails so you don't have to
    My Two Schillingsworth

  50. #50
    Got a suspension fork
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    You have me thoroughly confused Chad. I don't know whether to be more impressed by your continued epic mtb prowess or your awesome photography.


    ONE SHOX, ONE GEAR, LOTS of FUN! www.TrailFu.com My Rides

  51. #51
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    This thread needs to be a sticky!

    Glad to knock another one off the list. It looks like Ripsey needs to be on the radar now...
    "Nobody ever told me not to try" - Curious George Soundtrack by Jack Johnson

  52. #52
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    Thanks for the thread bump Noel, I hadn't perused this one in a while. I'm up to 5 out of 11 knocked off the list. Heading out to roll Ripsey again this weekend!!
    I ride the crappy trails so you don't have to
    My Two Schillingsworth

  53. #53
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    Incredible post, sir! I will definitely be heading out to the AZT soon!
    "There's nothing like touching earth you've never touched"

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by freeskier46 View Post
    Thanks for the thread bump Noel, I hadn't perused this one in a while. I'm up to 5 out of 11 knocked off the list. Heading out to roll Ripsey again this weekend!!
    When you heading out there? What's the mileage, route, out-n-back? How's the catclaw, trail, etc?

    I'm thinking of heading out there again on Sunday and thinking of hitting Ripsey or even a PP repeat.

    AZ Trail goodness....
    "Nobody ever told me not to try" - Curious George Soundtrack by Jack Johnson

  55. #55
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    Moving to Flagstaff soon and am slobbering all over myself looking over the top ten.Incredible resource. Can`t wait to sink my teeth into some of that singletrack! Thank you thank you thank you!

  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by cannonballtrail View Post
    One of the best posts ever on mtbr. Those really are 10 of my favs

    Thanks for posting
    I don't post much, but this is a "epic" thread. Amazing pictures, thanks for sharing with everyone.

    Now to get off my fat a$$ and lose some weight to ride some of these.

  57. #57
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    Wow man great photos. Got to ride Ripsey with the old freeskier this last weekend. Awesome! Now for the other nine...

  58. #58
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    I would love to do one of these rides

  59. #59
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    Thank you for putting this together!

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  61. #61
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    Cool pics! I'm definitely putting them places on my to do list!

  62. #62
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    not sure if this applies, but I took a 2 day camping trip just south and east of Mormon lake this past week ... I logged 25 miles along FR124, FR127, FR124D, FR82.... The areas of Dove Spring, Cow Hill, and Kinninkinick lake....

    Wow, what a great place for wildlife.... I saw elk, coyote, mule deer, antelope, and turkey... if you like seeing wildlife while you ride, this is a great place to ride... do it early in the morning and during the week and you will avoid any quads...

    bring you binoculars and be prepared to watch elk bugling and turkeys gobbiling..

  63. #63
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    Awesome list! Definitely start training to hit these trails someday!

  64. #64
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    This riding looks absolutely gorgeous! Were any of these taken anywhere near Phoenix?

  65. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by wcaplenor View Post
    This riding looks absolutely gorgeous! Were any of these taken anywhere near Phoenix?
    7 and 1 would be the closest - especially from the East Valley. Both should be on every Phoenician's to do list.

    Most of the other awesome Phoenix stuff is well known.

    "Nobody ever told me not to try" - Curious George Soundtrack by Jack Johnson

  66. #66
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    Yes arizona has some great trails... I spent some time in West Virginia.. you would be surprised how good the mountain biking is there also..

  67. #67
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    Wish I had more time to ride down in AZ!

  68. #68
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    bump

  69. #69
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    bump

  70. #70
    Andrew
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    Great post (OP). Thanks for sharing!

  71. #71
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    The Sonoita and Kaibab rides look gorgeous...these are definitely going on my list.

  72. #72
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    I might need to update this for some more places you need to ride....How has everyone been doing these rides?

  73. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by azepicriderandrunner View Post
    I might need to update this for some more places you need to ride....How has everyone been doing these rides?
    Cripes, Nancy and I have only picked up 5 of the 10 since I saw this. We need to get down to Tucson more - haven't even ridden on Lemmon.

    But, yeah, bring it on. This list inspired me to see places I had not heard of that turned out to be awesome (like Picket Post). I can think of a couple of worthy additions/modifications to this list.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  74. #74
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    Looks like I'll be bagging 2 more of these gems over the next 3 weeks!! Keep the stoke coming Chad!!
    I ride the crappy trails so you don't have to
    My Two Schillingsworth

  75. #75
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    Thanks for posting this list! I'm really new at this and have been having the hardest time finding trails I can do that aren't incredibly far from where I live.

  76. #76
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    Mod's this really should be a sticky!

    I have yet to do any of these rides, however reading it has inspired me to making this a priority!

  77. #77
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  78. #78
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    I just moved to AZ and those look great! Just have to get out and ride.

  79. #79
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    Ripsey goodness did not disappoint! "Word" is that this ridge line section of the AZT is on the chopping block in favor of mining interests and that is a shame. Get out there and ride it while you still can...
    "Nobody ever told me not to try" - Curious George Soundtrack by Jack Johnson

  80. #80
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    This is great! Thanks for posting. I'm going to tuck this list away and try to tackle some of those myself one of those days. Great photos too. AZ is incredible.

  81. #81
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    great thread
    i've come down once to mountain bike in the past and it was awesome.
    now i need to come again to try out some of the trails mentioned here.
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  82. #82
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    sweet thread. im just starting out but i'm gonna do at least one of them this year

  83. #83
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    By "underestimated" does the OP mean people often get in over their heads on these rides; or should it be read as "under-rated," meaning these rides are not recommended as often as they should be?

  84. #84
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    Any help?

  85. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skelldify View Post
    By "underestimated" does the OP mean people often get in over their heads on these rides; or should it be read as "under-rated," meaning these rides are not recommended as often as they should be?
    both
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  86. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skelldify View Post
    By "underestimated" does the OP mean people often get in over their heads on these rides; or should it be read as "under-rated," meaning these rides are not recommended as often as they should be?
    As in they are not in the guide books. You might be in over you head if you try to follow Chad's mileage.

  87. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noelg View Post
    Ripsey goodness did not disappoint! "Word" is that this ridge line section of the AZT is on the chopping block in favor of mining interests and that is a shame. Get out there and ride it while you still can...
    ohhh man I hope not! Ive been trying to ride some of these rides(AZT segments) and have not done ripsey yet. Fingers crossed that this doesn't happen, and quickly moving it up my AZT priority list!
    I dig dirt!

  88. #88
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    I went up (and down) trail 105 "Yeager" and I endod onto my face on a rock. Busted my Oakleys and split my eyebrow open. I thought it was very fitting.

    Anyway, it is a pretty amazing area and trail, it would have been nice if I didn't fall on my face though . I could see the fire burning off in the distance which was pretty sad.

    This is how my bike landed, luckily the bush was there to catch it or it would be long gone.


    Last edited by kjmccarx; 10-18-2014 at 11:35 AM.

  89. #89
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    Is there a link to show where the trail heads are? I am currently in Afg. but will be living in AZ once I get back and don't know where to find these places. These trails look amazing and cant wait to get some saddle time when I get back!

  90. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaFred View Post
    ohhh man I hope not! Ive been trying to ride some of these rides(AZT segments) and have not done ripsey yet. Fingers crossed that this doesn't happen, and quickly moving it up my AZT priority list!
    Latest word is the main Ripsey ridgeline, i.e. the money shot, will still be around. The re-route is looking like it will peel off somewhere before the switchback attack section - the main steep(er) descent into the Kelvin TH. I'd highly encourage anyone still on the fence re: Ripsey to get out there & ride it as it is. You can make a 20-ish mile loop from the Kelvin TH to keep it short. So many good possibililties out there, seems like Ive been doing a new Ripsey ride each time I venture out there. Great place for a bikepack as well.

    Including the honorable mention of #11, I'm now up to 9.5/11 complete. Red Ridge, I'm coming for you!! (and a full exploration of Area52!!)

    As for finding trailheads, aztrail.org for the AZT rides & google. Plenty of info out there.
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  91. #91
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    yeah, i've been meaning to ride ripsey...just hasnt happened yet. i'd reckon its a bit warm now, yeah? when are the trail changes gonna happen, anybody know?

    as for red ridge, i say go for it. most around here (i'm in tucson) would say CDO is better (and in good shape now).

  92. #92
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    Personally, I'd still do a Ripsey loop. A shorter variety and start super early. Probably wouldn't go solo as it's very remote & more than likely you won't see a soul out there should things go south. Expect some HAB. Timetable is uncertain, but it doesn't look like anything is imminent.

    I'd like to hit CDO too, I'm sure I'll do both as a loop, climbing the control road. I would think early fall would be a fine time to tackle that route.
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  93. #93
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    Freeskier, thanks for info. I think I'll wait til fall. I tend to ride solo mostly, but would probably want to hook up with someone due to the mentioned remoteness. That coordination has been primary stumbling block to exploring the gila area. And yeah, I'm stoked to hit up area 52 as well

  94. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by disgustin View Post
    Is there a link to show where the trail heads are? I am currently in Afg. but will be living in AZ once I get back and don't know where to find these places. These trails look amazing and cant wait to get some saddle time when I get back!
    Most of these are on this site under trail reviews. Otherwise I'm sure they are on strava.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  95. #95
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    Nice! Excited to start riding!

  96. #96
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    Just download the "MTB Project" App on your cell phone.

    It displays a map of all the trails in your local area… It's set up so that you can use your GPS and literally pin point your exact location at all times while on these trails. I can't tell you how many times this App has save me from making wrong turns at forks and 4 way intersections.


    I live on the S/W side of Tucson so I hit Robles, Starpass, Brown Mountain, Fantasy Island, and quite a few other trails all the time.

    I try and hit these trails every other morning…. so 3-4 times a week.


    If anyone else is ever interested in riding these trails and are in the area, hit me up.

    I'm always down for a good ride in the saguaros

  97. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by DustyTrail View Post
    I can't tell you how many times this App has save me from making wrong turns at forks and 4 way intersections.

    ...Robles, Starpass [sic], Brown Mountain, Fantasy Island, and quite a few other trails all the time.
    Wait. There really aren't any "wrong turns" in any of those systems. Everything is good!
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  98. #98
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    Just released: Trailforks app
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