The Arizona Trail stretches 800 miles across Arizona from Mexico to Utah. It contains some of the most rugged and remote riding you will find anywhere. Although I routinely do much longer rides, and with much more climbing, I find the trail pretty challenging. The trail is often loose and rocky, it is often quite narrow with steep drop-offs, and it is very intimidating when you can see 50 miles both in front and behind you.
Picketpost to Kelvin is one of my favorite sections, but since it is a point to point ride you need at least two people to shuttle. ChunkyMonkey answered the call when I asked for a riding partner. Since there is less than 10 hours of daylight this time of year we had to start fairly early and keep moving. ChunkyMonkey was quite skilled and of course much faster than me, but he didn't seem to mind waiting for me. The temperature was perfect once the sun got up, and there were few incidents. I did, however, fall on a downhill switchback and hit my forehead pretty hard on a rock. I'd be dead without a helmet. The trail was in great shape and the scenery was fantastic! More photos on my SmugMug site.
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I've biked it south of Tucson and loved the AZ Trail there! Single track but not much technical. Fear of falling on a cactus was enough to focus on. A crash on rocks would be far better than impacting a barrel cactus or saguaro!
I was wondering how much of the trail is single track and how much of the 800 miles is dirt roads? Looks like great single track where you were.
Great pics and post. Those cactus are surreal for this east coaster, it looks almost like a different planet.
Thanks for posting.
Here's some more info on the AZT from a bikepacking perspective: Bikepacking routes - Arizona Trail
Originally Posted by jmpreston
Most of the dirt roads/paved sections of the route are due to Wilderness re-routes.
There really are five main chunks of mountain bike friendly trail on the AZT, IMO.
From south to north:
Canelo Hills (they tend to get a bad rap, but I find the area amazing and don't mind a bit of HAB),
Gardner Canyon to Hope Camp (Area just northwest of Sonoita to the east side of Tucson),
Oracle State Park to Montana Mtn (the Montana Mtn piece is best done as a forest road climb up the mountain & AZT back down to the Picketpost TH),
Mogollon Rim to Grand Canyon South Rim (Most sections here are really good, best suited for non-wintertime. Blue Ridge has a couple healthy HAB's, Happy Jack is a bit rubbly, Anderson Mesa tends to be post-holed & sticky when wet and Babbit Ranch has many miles of open range 2-track).
Grand Canyon North Rim to Utah (High alpine meadows connected with short HAB's from the Canyon to Jacob Lake, then mostly level to downhill over the last 30 miles to Utah)
Great pics WW, sorry I couldn't join you fellas. I'll probably set up this ride in March when the wildflowers are in full display.
Gardner Canyon south to the wilderness boundary is also a great section, as is the Bellota Ranch to Italian Trap section off of Reddington road east of Tucson.
Originally Posted by freeskier46
Great great riding.
I live in Denver now but I swear the riding around Tucson is better!
Re: Arizona Trail!
Nice photos! Thanks for sharing.
Sent by smoke signal.
Wow, You get to ride some awesome trails Wherewolf. Great pictures to boot! Makes me want to make a trip to AZ. The trails here in CA are nice but a change in scenery is always nice!
Fantastic! Way to show how it's done.
Thanks, all, for info. Hope to ride it.
Ahh, Googled it. HAB means Hike-a-Bike. :-) My wife prefers a more upscale term - freewalking.
Any parts of the AZ Trail have shuttle services? We prefer loops or shuttles so we don't have to return to the TH by road.
Tuscson also has Treasure Island! Fun area to ride SE of downtown. It was a dry wash section of desert with old junk cars and stuff until cleaned up by locals who built flowy single track and some challenges. Then the state decided to sell it to developers and a bunch of us MTBers wrote to legislators and the governor to make it a park. Last I heard we succeeded.
You mean Fantasy Island. A fun little place for in town but nothing compared to the AZ trail!
Originally Posted by jmpreston
Awesome Pictures. That looks like a great ride as well.
Not to hijack the thread, but a lot of the AZT I mentioned can be done as loop rides if you don't mind linking up with dirt roads, most of the ones here in AZ are quite scenic too. The Arizona Endurance Series puts on a fantastic race series incorporating many AZT miles into their routes. Specifically race #'s: 1, 5, 6, 7 & 8. I've also blogged about many of these events & other loops / 2-day bikepacks, see signature.
Originally Posted by jmpreston
For example the Bellota Ranch/Italian Trap section Smilinsteve mentioned can be done as a loop with Redington Rd-Jeep Rds-AZT-La Milagrosa Trail.
The Arizona Trail Jamboree is coming up next Sat. Jan. 11th if you're near Tucson. It's an annual fund raiser with shuttle support for either a 25 or 35 mile ride option along the AZT southeast of Tucson. Then after the ride a BBQ/Beer gathering at Pistol Hill TH.
thanks for posting, WW. Good to be know what to aspire to and what to expect when you get to the trail head.
Thanks also, freeskier, for additional information on AZT, bike packing & loop rides.
That section of the AZT just about killed our regional IMBA guy. It about killed me coming from Flagstaff to do it as a daytrip. Left home at 4am, returned back home, 2am. But the long downhill on your graph was top notch. That would be a good enduro section.
There is a big difference between ripping and skidding.
I agree! I lived in Tucson from 1993-2002, in the Sierra Foothils East of Sacramento from 2002-2007, Seattle area from 2007-2009, and Monterey/Carmel since then. Wonderful riding in all of those places but Tucson is still my favorite.
Originally Posted by smilinsteve
Thanks for the photos, Wherewolf. Brings back some great memories.
The glass is twice as large as it needs to be
Love the photos!
I just did AZT in November for 4 days, riding from the Tucson area to Phoenix. Nothing like days of incredible singletrack, beers, camp fires and camping.
Put on by Hermosa Tours, the format was a self-guided tour taking you and other riders to the trailhead on day 1, transporting your gear (tent, food and beer) to each camp location and picking you up on day 4 when done.
On paper, the mileage and elevation didnít seem like a big deal, we were even concerned about too much down time at camp. Turns out the miles were HARD and the days where long. Each day was about 23-29 miles with about 2,600í-4,000í of elevation. Here are some photos.
Getting dropped off
Camp Night 2, just after a crazy hail storm
Doing it on a single speed hurts!
Last edited by tracysurf; 01-03-2014 at 07:43 PM.
Really nice, thanks for sharing some great riding!
Spreading +rep again here.
Could you PM me if you set up a ride for March, since I don't get into the Arizona forum that often?
Originally Posted by freeskier46
Thanks freeskier46! Dirt roads work for us. We probably need to take a break from our annual Moab trip. What I love about Moab and Fruita is the big MTB culture - besides the amazing rides.
A shuttle up near the top of the Catalinas would be a good thing.
Yeah, Fantasy Island in Tucson. Fun place to play.
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