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  1. #1
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    1st trip to Phoenix....

    We're heading out to PHX from SoCal in early March and none of us have ever ridden in the area though I've read about the trails for years. All of us are over 50 and ride 5-6" travel bikes. Everybody on the trip has ridden all but Hangover in Sedona and pretty much everything out at Gooseberry Mesa and Moab.

    We'll be driving out there early Thursday morning and hope to get a 2 hour ride in that day. Looking to do longer rides, 25-30 miles on Friday & Saturday, then another shorter ride on Sunday before driving home. Aside from the trails that you think we should ride, I'm looking for advice on what area to stay in to limit our commuting to the various rides. We will be renting a multi-bedroom house off VRBO or a similar site so if anybody knows of rentals near the trails that would be helpful as well.

  2. #2
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    National and other down the Mtn trails at South Mtn
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  3. #3
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    Yeah, South Mtn will give you the most "bang for your buck" without driving to ride elsewhere. Phoenix Mtn Preserve has lots of cool stuff but it's a solid 30 minute drive across town from the SoMo area. Should be able to find a rental in the Ahwatukee area near the mountain, plenty of trail access points from there
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  4. #4
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    SoMo on has the best 6" travel riding, but it's limited to a few sections of a few trails, especially National. And the rest of the time you're dodging Soccer Moms power-walking in their Lululemon gear. (I'm not a SoMo guy but used to live in Ahwatukee so know my way around that hill.) In my opinion, much better riding at McDowell Mountain Park /McDowell Sonoran Preserve /Brown's Ranch area on the NE side of town, about 35 minutes from Airport, accessed from Fountain Hills. This is more flowy XC than body armor and mouth guards, but there is some teccy stuff on the Competitive Loops (Tech Loop and backside of Long Loop) as well as in the upper Park. Plus there's over a hundred miles of trails, and on March weekdays you'll only see a few other riders on each session. It's BIG WILD DESERT, much mo' big than Aliso/Woods or Laguna. Also recommend getting in a full day on Black Canyon Trail, north of town on I-17 .... one of the best rides in Arizona. In any event, make sure you catch up with our Tuesday Night Ride (TNR) from the 4-Peaks Lot of McDowell Mountain Park. Right now we're riding off at 6:30 PM but maybe 30 minutes later by March, or maybe not. Check in at McDowell Mountain Cycles website for more info. See you out there!

  5. #5
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    Thanks Scott...a day on the BCT and a day at South Mountain were on the agenda for sure (by the way, I dislike Aliso and it's double wide fire roads). The Cave Creek Cactus Race Loop also gets great reviews on MTB Project as does the Browns Ranch you mentioned. As far as bikes, a couple of us also have shorter travel bikes we could bring. Unfortunately, we will be there thursday thru sunday so won't be around for that shop ride.

    I appreciate you taking the time to post that up.

    **I should also add that from where we live in the North County of San Diego, we regularly dive 80 miles each way to ride Nobel Canyon, Palm Springs, Idyllwild or Big Bear so driving to ride isn't an issue.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by k2rider1964 View Post
    The Cave Creek Cactus Race Loop also gets great reviews on MTB Project as does the Browns Ranch you mentioned.
    You may find Brown's Ranch a bit boring as it's relatively flat and XC'ish. I think Hawes would be a much better trail system to visit if you are on 6" travel bikes and looking for some miles.

  7. #7
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    Well, since you're not opposed to driving a bit. Take the trek east on US60 out to the Picketpost TH (MP 221, 4 miles west of Superior) and ride south on the Arizona Trail. Flip it at mile 14.5 for a ride you won't soon forget.
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  8. #8
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    rental-schmental,,, you haven't lived until you've stayed at the Arizona Mills Ramada.

  9. #9
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    I'd throw out my local sherd, Hawes in north east Mesa. If you use National as a baseline for technical riding and grade it a 10 (I know there are more tech trails) by comparison I'd call Hawes a 5 or 6, but the fun factor is very high. And the views are "word class" Its easy to put together 12+ miles or more (a lot more) if you don't mind a little out and back. Maps are easily googleable, I just made up that word. Lots of good stuff in the Phoenix Valley and Hawes is another good one. I don't think I saw Gold Canyon here either, lot's of fun stuff there too.
    Better than most, not as good as some.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by asmolow View Post
    You may find Brown's Ranch a bit boring as it's relatively flat and XC'ish. I think Hawes would be a much better trail system to visit if you are on 6" travel bikes and looking for some miles.
    Browns has great classic desert views. Very pretty. If you can find someone to take you on some of the old school "Pima and Dynamite" trails very is a little more tech/challenge, otherwise Browns has virtually zero tech. It would be a good easy day and one where you can get lots of miles if wanted.
    Otherwise, like stated above, BCT and South Mountain. Picketpost for a more remote experience and spectacular views.

    Thurs: Browns
    Fri: South Mountain
    Sat: Either BCT or Picketpost
    Sun: Hawes

    Rides are pretty spread out, but maybe staying somewhere near South Mountain/Tempe??

  11. #11
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    National from pima canyon parking lot to Telegraph pass and back will earn you your burritos and beers after!

  12. #12
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    i also live in north SD county. if you indeed are looking for very technical terrain (like south mountain), you could hit up the white tank mountains maybe on the drive in or out. south mountain is a good bang for the buck, but you will run into lots of people and hikers.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by k2rider1964 View Post
    We're heading out to PHX from SoCal in early March and none of us have ever ridden in the area though I've read about the trails for years. All of us are over 50 and ride 5-6" travel bikes. Everybody on the trip has ridden all but Hangover in Sedona and pretty much everything out at Gooseberry Mesa and Moab.

    We'll be driving out there early Thursday morning and hope to get a 2 hour ride in that day. Looking to do longer rides, 25-30 miles on Friday & Saturday, then another shorter ride on Sunday before driving home. Aside from the trails that you think we should ride, I'm looking for advice on what area to stay in to limit our commuting to the various rides. We will be renting a multi-bedroom house off VRBO or a similar site so if anybody knows of rentals near the trails that would be helpful as well.
    I read your post differently from others. I ride a R.I.P. 9 on XC trails and never ride National. If your riding Gooseberry Mesa, you are not riding down steep trails that are super chunky, right? You're mostly cruising along enjoying the slick rock. Do you all enjoy the Goulds / Jem / Hurricane Rim Loop? Bike Magazine called Jem the most flowing trail in the country. It's an XC course with a few rocky sections. Do you ride up Noble Canyon before riding down it? Do you enjoy the west end trails in Sedona? Have you ridden the loop from the cultural center that includes; Plumbers Crack - Lizardhead - Lost Watch - Chuckwagon - Gunslinger - Mescal - Aerie - Cockscomb - Western Civilization - Last Frontier - Drano. I'd say that's the very best trail loop in the state. Perfect for a 5-6" travel bike.

    My advice; Brown's Ranch has one big climb and downhill off of it. A 7 mile ride across Hawksnest is a high-speed run you would love. The new extension to High Desert makes it one of the best trails in the Preserve. Coyote Canyon is a beautiful little narrow canyon trail. Maverick is a great thrill ride. A second day could be spent nearby on more demanding ups and downs in the McDowell Mountain Preserve, or you can blast around the competitive track loops just a short drive away. The upper part of the BCT is worth a shuttle drop, and if you ride it down to Rock Springs on Saturday, I believe the restaurant offers beef and pork ribs, as well as their amazing pies.

    I would not count out the Cave Creek Trails and even the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve, which is just southwest of Cave Creek. The Sidewinder / Ocotillo loop is just over 12 miles and offers lots of twisting and sweeping turns, several climbs and fast descents, and it's a blast adding an additional 17 miles of fast riding in and out of washes on Badger Brawl - Cliff Walk - Apache Wash - Esplanade.

    And last, the Prickly Pedal Race Course, from Lake Pleasant to New River Road, done as an out and back, parking along New River Road and riding into Lake Pleasant Park, is sure to become a classic ride. It's about a 26 mile ride, round trip. I liked it more than the BCT. Mostly because it is new and in the best condition it will ever be in.

    As far as VRBO, I'd look in Tatum Ranch Estates or Cave Creek. That puts you in the middle of all the great trails on the north side of town.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boris Badenov View Post
    I read your post differently from others. I ride a R.I.P. 9 on XC trails and never ride National. If your riding Gooseberry Mesa, you are not riding down steep trails that are super chunky, right? You're mostly cruising along enjoying the slick rock. Do you all enjoy the Goulds / Jem / Hurricane Rim Loop? Bike Magazine called Jem the most flowing trail in the country. It's an XC course with a few rocky sections.
    This.

    When I think of "technical" riding, nothing about Gooseberry Mesa evokes the same image. Infinite traction, and not >5" terrain, anywhere.

    JEM, while fun, is best done on an XC HT. It is only technical when you're going Mach 12, drifting and pedaling through every sandy corner. Or doing a j-hop, uphill, at speed.


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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boris Badenov View Post
    Have you ridden the loop from the cultural center that includes; Plumbers Crack - Lizardhead - Lost Watch - Chuckwagon - Gunslinger - Mescal - Aerie - Cockscomb - Western Civilization - Last Frontier - Drano. I'd say that's the very best trail loop in the state. Perfect for a 5-6" travel bike.
    This. It might not be the best loop in the state, but it's the best loop I've ever ridden, anywhere.

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  16. #16
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    The OP is going to Phoenix and not Sedona.

    I'd go with El Poseur's recommendation in post#10. Don't do South Mountain on a weekend. Unless you go super early it's a zoo. Great stuff but as a destination after having driven 7 or 8 hours to get there that kinda sucks. You don't have to push out far from the Brown's TH to get away from the hikers and you're likely not to see anyone at all on Picketpost.

  17. #17
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    OK, thanks for all the replies and Boris, you are correct in your assumptions for the most part. I re-read my post and I guess I wasn't clear but didn't mean to equate the idea that we mostly ride 5-6" travel bikes as only looking for ultra-techy trail options. I ride a Pivot Mach 6 because I like the laid back seating position/head angle and the comfort provided by the extra travel (remember I'm old) and NOT because I'm dropping 5-7 foot drops. That being said, I'll *try* to ride most trails. I mentioned other areas I've ridden (Fruita, Gooseberry) only to give y'all an idea on trails I've ridden and I'm okay with.

    Sooooooo, I'm sure we'd be happy on wherever you suggest. I'm happy riding a 25 mile XC loop and I have no problem giving the gnarlier stuff on South Mountain a try. I do appreciate knowing not to go on a weekend because that's probably exactly what we would have done. All the advice so far has been great and the only problem is there's too many choices for the short time that we have. We normally try and ride twice a day so hopefully we'll get alot of variety in.

    Boris...I've ridden JEM many, many times and heading back out there at the end of January. I rode pretty much that exact loop you posted when we were in Sedona in October. It was alright but I like the Hogs loop and Highline to Templeton trails better. Yes, I sometime ride UP Nobel before coming back down...but rarely

    Le Duke...to each their own but I prefer not to ride a HT on any trail. I do have an Air 9 that I use as a quasi road bike once a week but as far as I'm concerned, everything is better on a full suspension

  18. #18
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    BCT & AZT: Picketpost

    Black Canyon Trail as a point to point from various trailheads, or the most common, around Little Pan Loop south from Black Canyon City.

    Arizona Trail: Picketpost
    - out and back as far as you feel like going.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by k2rider1964 View Post
    OK, thanks for all the replies and Boris, you are correct in your assumptions for the most part. I re-read my post and I guess I wasn't clear but didn't mean to equate the idea that we mostly ride 5-6" travel bikes as only looking for ultra-techy trail options. I ride a Pivot Mach 6 because I like the laid back seating position/head angle and the comfort provided by the extra travel (remember I'm old) and NOT because I'm dropping 5-7 foot drops.
    Ok Good to know then. I would then avoid SoMo on the weekends as well. I was out riding my new 7inch "big bike" and the trails were busy. The only place not busy was Geronimo which was not busy for a reason. IE... lots of drops rocks etc.

    BCT on Sunday was busy too. However busy for BCT on a weekend means I see someone else on the trails. BCT is great ride from any trailhead and can be done a HT or a AM bike. Lots of rocks and twist stuff, but generally no crazy tech features. Still you some good climbs and the rocks make you work for it. Arizona Trail near Picketpost is similar in that is all XC rideable, but more suspension takes the edge off. There are also nice loops you can do in west side of the McDowells that have some good rocky bits and you can bang out a nice 30 mile ride there too.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wherewolf View Post
    Black Canyon Trail as a point to point from various trailheads, or the most common, around Little Pan Loop south from Black Canyon City.

    Arizona Trail: Picketpost
    - out and back as far as you feel like going.
    Definitely two on the short list so far!!

  21. #21
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    We ride south mountain a lot and almost exclusively on the weekends due to work. Is it "busy" yea sort of but patchy and the higher up you get the less people. Past buena vista you'll be lucky to see 1 person. It's not like there is a solid train of people going up the trail. If your schedule only permits the weekend don't let that deter you. Allthough on a weekday there are a lot less people for sure.

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