Looking for Info - South Side of South Mountain- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Looking for Info - South Side of South Mountain

    Hey guys, I'm an expert rider (20 yrs riding DH in BC/Alberta) heading to Phoenix next week and looking for some SoMo trail beta.

    I've ridden at SoMo before, but the only trails I hit were shuttles on Holbert and Geronimo. Loved them both, Geronimo was a pretty classic mtb trail with some good speed/flow, whereas Holbert was a fun challenge to maintain speed thru all the rock (boulder) gardens.

    Since I'll be staying in the Ahwatukee area, I'm thinking it will be a good opportunity to explore some of the trails on the south side of SoMo. I've done some searching and I haven't found too many descriptors of these trails. I am on a 170mm "enduro" bike, will be mainly pedalling up not shuttling, and I am primarily seeking tech/gnarly descents that ideally still have good speed/flow.

    2 Questions:

    - of the descents on the south side of SoMo (Young/Old Man, Corona, Telegraph, Pyramid, Eliminator, Mine Drop, Lost Ranch etc), are there any must-rides, or trails to avoid, etc? Pretty much just looking for any sort of info/advice

    - say I hit a descent on one of the above trails, what is the best way to get back up to the top? Looks like the 'easiest' way is to take Desert Classic back to Pima area and then head up Mormon/National, but its a pretty round-about route. Is there a faster/more direct way to get back up? Don't mind a bit of hike-a-bike if it saves significant time.

    Thanks in advance, and if anyone wants to hit a lap or two shoot me a PM!

    Scott

  2. #2
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    There is no good way to the top from the South Side, other than back up some of the trails you descended.
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  3. #3
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    I wouldnít recommend riding Young Man personally, especially on the weekend or around holidays. Itís an unofficial trail, really lacks flow, very tight and technical. Itís primarily used by hikers and trail runners. There are plenty of better choices without upsetting the locals. That being said, you probably want to ride it down Tuesday thru Thursday between 10am-2pm to avoid any conflicts

  4. #4
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    Watch the weather too. It was rainy this week, which makes the trails pretty nice since it is primarily decomposed granite. However, these storms have been pretty cold by AZ standards for the time of year and got me chilled and wet to the bone by not wearing appropriate clothing. Today is fantastic.

  5. #5
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    Corona de Loma and the west side of National Trail (west of Telegraph) are two of my personal favorite descents at SoMo. Both are almost always devoid of any other trail traffic. You might also enjoy Alta trail which is on the ridgeline north of San Juan Rd., although it is probably best not to ride that one alone as it has some big moves and sees very little trail traffic. The climb to the top might kill you, but the views are worth every switchback of that climb!

    The best way to get up top if you're starting from Ahwatukee is either to take DC east and climb Mormon/National or to do the relatively short (but steep) hike-a-bike up Telegraph and climb either the Summit Road if you're heading east or National Trail if you're heading west.

  6. #6
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    It's tough to loop in the south side trails without committing to a big ride.

    My favourite route is basically up Javelina-Mormon-National, over to Eliminator, then find your way back on various XC trails (and a little bit of road). National from the top down to Telegraph is pretty fun, Eliminator is good but overgraded in my opinion (don't expect it to feel BC/AB double-black). Down the north side of Beverly Canyon is a fun short rip.

    Something like...

    https://www.trailforks.com/ridelog/view/5629427/

    It's 40km, so there's that. There used to be water available at Telegraph trailhead after the road connector (about 25km into things), which was nice. But last time I was through (in the spring) it was under construction with NO WATER available... So I'd verify before counting on it.

    Pyramid, Mine Drop, Meh.

    Taco really wants to punish you for something by recommending Alta. I rode it about 5 years ago, then forgot what it was like and rode it again this spring. I'm starting to forget already, but I think I told myself to never do it again after the last time.

  7. #7
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    You are looking tech/gnarly descents on South side of south mountain? You have to do Eliminator, Corona De Loma, and Goat. I just checked out Mine last sunday and ended up hiking the entire thing to hit Eliminator down. It was not worth it, would be easier to go up Eliminator and then down or hike up Telegraph, and then down National to Eliminator. What exact days are you riding? I might be able to get someone to shuttle for more runs.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Set4lfe View Post
    You are looking tech/gnarly descents on South side of south mountain? You have to do Eliminator, Corona De Loma, and Goat. I just checked out Mine last sunday and ended up hiking the entire thing to hit Eliminator down. It was not worth it, would be easier to go up Eliminator and then down or hike up Telegraph, and then down National to Eliminator. What exact days are you riding? I might be able to get someone to shuttle for more runs.
    You can start at the FootHills trailhead off 24th ave or whatever (end of Chandler) and go up natty to Eliminator/Lost Mine. You'll end up in the same area as you parked once the descent is over.

  9. #9
    dft
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    is bajada fun in the downhill direction(or seems like west national is funner)? also, if one does alta, what is the best direction.
    i've heard different things about alt. one more question, is bursera fun?

  10. #10
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    I'd second dsrt taco on the recommendation for Corona de loma. It is a pretty classic loop to climb National/Mormon, drop Corona and then return on Desert classic. It does make for a longer loop though, but has some good challenges both up/down and a bit of everything.

    The other good way to get back up is to hike a bike up Telegraph. You'll get lots of crazy looks and entertaining comments from the hikers. I wouldn't descend Telegraph trail for that reason - all the hikers that aren't on Corona are going up Telegraph instead.

    Quote Originally Posted by dft View Post
    is bajada fun in the downhill direction(or seems like west national is funner)? also, if one does alta, what is the best direction.
    i've heard different things about alt. one more question, is bursera fun?
    I wouldn't describe Bajada as a descent, it is very pedally and xc-ish. When I did it I climbed it and then rode Alta east to west to make a CCW loop. This was a long time ago but I recall thinking Alta was best the direction I did it. The descent off the west end was pretty fun. Haven't done Bursera or National that far west.

    You mentioned not wanting to do Picketpost AZT solo, but you can easily do it as an out and back to one of several points. There is some climbing on the way back but its a pretty good descent as well. You can turn around at FR4 jeep road at around 7 miles, or at lookouts at 10, 12, 14 miles.

    This TR had pics of my Alta-Bajada loop and one of the early Picketpost rides after that section of AZT was completed. https://forums.mtbr.com/arizona/spri...cs-776000.html

  11. #11
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    Alta is best ridden east to west. I wouldn't personally ride it alone due to the exposure, but that's just me.
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  12. #12
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    Following as I will be heading down sometime this winter..

    What other areas in the phoenix area are suggested for riding in winter?

    Also, any good dispersed camping around for a couple folks, two dogs and truck camper, no ammenities needed
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by billybobzia View Post
    Also, any good dispersed camping around for a couple folks, two dogs and truck camper, no ammenities needed
    This is pretty much my MO, although I am still feeling my way around the area. I haven't yet found the sweet spot with both good camping and good riding (other than Prescott, which will likely be chilly and possibly snow covered). I camped at Picket Post a few weeks back, which offers okay camping (lots of road noise, not much privacy) and fantastic back country riding (although super chunky and a bit of hike a bike for me). Both McDowell Mountain and White Tanks offer camping in there overflow lots for 15 bucks (I think) and both are pretty good, with McDowell having showers. The riding at both is okay, but mostly XC oriented. McDowell in particular can be dull as hell other than the competition loops. But my wife loves them and I enjoy them for night riding. I believe you can access the Hawes trail system from Usery park, but their overflow camping is horrid so you are looking at paying for a camp site. The Maricopa County parks all offer camping that is better than most but certainly not the dispersed camping you are looking for.

    I haven't yet camped in the Arizona state trust land adjacent to the Gold Canyon system, but that is next. 15 dollar annual permit and dispersed. Sounds like a winner but won't know for a few weeks. This would probably be my first choice just based on location.

    There is dispersed camping at spots along Black Canyon Trail, which is worth the ride. Haven't camped there yet as it is pretty close to PHX and I would be concerned about the yahoo factor. Worth a shot though and I'm sure I will try it at some point this winter.

  14. #14
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    Just finished my trip and wanted to follow up. First thanks to everyone for the advice!

    Extra thanks to dsrt taco for taking me on a SoMo tour, including a coast-to-coast on National. When we started Taco set off on a blistering pace, I thought he was just trying to test me out and that once I'd proven myself he'd slow up a bit. This was not the case - I consider it one of my finest biking achievements to have (mostly) kept up with him for a 50 km ride.

    Climbing South Side Ė I went up both Telegraph and Pyramid a few times. Telegraph is 99% hike-a-bike, but at least itís over quickly (15 mins to road). If youíre finishing a lap on Corona and wanting to go back up, itís probably fastest to go DC->Telegraph->road vs DC->Mormon. Pyramid was actually pretty decent for climbing in terms of avg gradient and technicality, the problem is all the super-tight switchbacks that are impossible to get up without dismounting. Kills the flow. That said I enjoyed the climb (about 40 mins from bottom to National junction), you can do a pretty fun quick loop in less than 90 mins by going Pyramid parking lot -> up Pyramid->National->Eliminator DH. I imagine this route will get much more popular with the freeway being open now, the parking lot is literally <1 min off the freeway.

    Descents - I really enjoyed Eliminator, West National, and Geronimo. It seems the trails on the West side of the range (west of Telegraph) are less big rock/slabs, and more gravelly. Eliminator is steep, but still really nice speed/flow. Loved it. West National not as steep, but also fast and good flow. Geronimo has way more bigger rocks, but aside from a few super tight switchbacks near the bottom, it has good flow. Even a couple berms!

    Corona was recommended to me by several people as being one of the best trails at SoMo. Personally I thought Corona, while not a bad trail, is a little over-rated. Lots of sections of bigger rocks that were tough to carry speed, but also many super tight low-speed switchbacks that killed some flow.

    I never hit Lost Ranch, Old Man, or Young Man, but I did hit Mine Drop. Not as good as Eliminator, clearly not a well-frequented route, it was really narrow and loose in spots and also had too many switchbacks.

    Overall great trip, loved the trails, canít wait to come back next winter.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by superman-4 View Post
    Just finished my trip and wanted to follow up. First thanks to everyone for the advice!

    Extra thanks to dsrt taco for taking me on a SoMo tour, including a coast-to-coast on National. When we started Taco set off on a blistering pace, I thought he was just trying to test me out and that once I'd proven myself he'd slow up a bit. This was not the case - I consider it one of my finest biking achievements to have (mostly) kept up with him for a 50 km ride.

    Climbing South Side Ė I went up both Telegraph and Pyramid a few times. Telegraph is 99% hike-a-bike, but at least itís over quickly (15 mins to road). If youíre finishing a lap on Corona and wanting to go back up, itís probably fastest to go DC->Telegraph->road vs DC->Mormon. Pyramid was actually pretty decent for climbing in terms of avg gradient and technicality, the problem is all the super-tight switchbacks that are impossible to get up without dismounting. Kills the flow. That said I enjoyed the climb (about 40 mins from bottom to National junction), you can do a pretty fun quick loop in less than 90 mins by going Pyramid parking lot -> up Pyramid->National->Eliminator DH. I imagine this route will get much more popular with the freeway being open now, the parking lot is literally <1 min off the freeway.

    Descents - I really enjoyed Eliminator, West National, and Geronimo. It seems the trails on the West side of the range (west of Telegraph) are less big rock/slabs, and more gravelly. Eliminator is steep, but still really nice speed/flow. Loved it. West National not as steep, but also fast and good flow. Geronimo has way more bigger rocks, but aside from a few super tight switchbacks near the bottom, it has good flow. Even a couple berms!

    Corona was recommended to me by several people as being one of the best trails at SoMo. Personally I thought Corona, while not a bad trail, is a little over-rated. Lots of sections of bigger rocks that were tough to carry speed, but also many super tight low-speed switchbacks that killed some flow.

    I never hit Lost Ranch, Old Man, or Young Man, but I did hit Mine Drop. Not as good as Eliminator, clearly not a well-frequented route, it was really narrow and loose in spots and also had too many switchbacks.

    Overall great trip, loved the trails, canít wait to come back next winter.
    I linked up with you and Taco man for the Corona descent/climb that day. Fun riding with you guys. I get what you're saying about Corona. I think it flows well, but didn't think that the first couple years of riding it. Those that know it tend to love it, while first time riders are often ambivalent.

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