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  1. #1
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    looking for a suggestion on a trail to ride this weekend

    Hello,

    My brothers Birthday is coming up this weekend and he wants to go mountain biking. Looking for any suggestions on where to take him north of Phoenix were it would be a little cooler. My wife will also come and she has never been mountain biking before (although she does that bike class thing in the gym) so I am looking for something in an area with decent weather, not too far from Phoenix (flagstaff maybe), long enough trail to make it worth the drive and easy enough for a beginner. This is a lot to ask that is why I have given up searching online and figure I would just post the question. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    This weekend it's supposed to be cool and thunderstorming in the high country. Rolling into Flagstaff at 10am doesn't really cut it, as it can start pouring shortly after that, and you don't want to be caught in these kinds of storms. There is no gaurentee that it will happen, but it's in the forecast and this is what the usual trend is when such weather is forecast. I'd be rolling into Flagstaff around 7-8am at the latest. Schultz creek is a wonderfull beginner/low impact trail. A few trails on the other side of Schultz Pass Road are ok as well, but otherwise you might want to be looking at the Ft Valley trails or other smaller trail systems (not on Mt Elden) in Flag for that type of riding.

    That said, in Prescott on Sat the high is supposed to be 82, and on Sunday the high is supposed to be 71 (yes, I can't wait!). The same thing about the weather above kind of applies to Prescott, although due to the lower elevation the storms usually don't build 'till a little later and it's a shorter drive as well.

    We have a lot of those types of trails, depending on where you want to ride. Trail 305 is probably the closest for you. It's a low-intermediate trail with a few very steep sections, they usually last no more than a few hundred feet, but it could be a detriment. The trail is a nice surface though, no real technical features. At the end of the trail the climbs become more sustained until it ends. Total length one way is around 7 miles. I acces this trail by parking at the China Buffet off of Walker Road (Costco) just past Prescott Valley on highway 69. Then ride down Walker Road about 1/4 mile and on the right is the trailhead. This trail starts in the scrubs, but enters the Ponderosa Pines a mile or two in. It's nice overall and it crosses through several campgrounds (water/outhouse).

    Trail 396 is located at the White Spar Campground (look on map), which is on White Spar Road. This is a similer trail to the above, but with virtually no "very steep" sections. Because it's a younger trail, it's even smoother. This trail starts in the Ponderosas and is a favorite due to the flora and vegetation.

    Granite Basin has a lot of trails/milege that would be suitable. If you are not familiar with the area, park inside the Basin at one of the trailheads. Trails such as 349, 347, 332, 350 and the Eastern half of 351 are all very suitable. Other trails I did not list in Granite Basin are probably not suitable for very good reasons (technical, sand, steep,
    etc).

    Otherwise, for cool or tolerable temps you got usually 4 options from Phoenix. Catalinas. Payson. Prescott. Flagstaff. Some are further, some are closer. Some are cooler, and so on. It looks like the Monsoon is kicking up this weekend, so I'd take heed of that.
    "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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  3. #3
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    I second the prescott trail suggestions... Trail 396 is super fun and not too much climbing and not technical at all (I think the hardest part is the first 1/4 mile or so from the parking lot...)

    Granite basin is kind of OK, but not spectacular...

  4. #4
    im4Gsus
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    a fun and very beginner friendly trail system in flag is campbell mesa loops just on the south side of flag. buff single track in the cool pines!

    also, trail 347 in the granite basin area. start from williamson road trailhead, ride up towards the park and then turn around for a hoot-n-holler ride down to the car! just make sure when you start from that location you go left behind the houses and not right towards the mtn. that'll take you to trail 345, a BIG for beginners (or some intermediates like me!)
    "If God is your co-pilot you're in the wrong seat!" S Barrington

  5. #5
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    I'll believe the weather is going to be bad in the high country when I see it. This has been one of the driest monsoons on record. So many days of 30-40% chance for t-storms and rain, we get clouds but no rain... or maybe a sprinkle. I, for one, am hoping Jayem is correct. Things are dry dry dry. The last good storm was when, 4th of July weekend?

    And I'll second the Campbell Mesa trail system in Flag as good for beginners... watch out in the corners on CML though, it's dusty and slippery. Another suggestion: the FUTS trail off of Butler Ave heads south towards the mouth of Walnut Canyon and the Fisher Point trail. Beautiful area, no significant climbing, nothing real technical unless you start the climb up to FP. And there are meadows, trees, cool rocks and caves. Bring a picnic lunch and eat in a cave. It's a good time.

  6. #6
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    Honestly, it is supposed to cool down in the Valley this summer, and I would recommend taking beginners somewhere like the McDowell Competitive Tracks. The reason why I say this is because I have recently taken some beginner buddies out in Flag, and up North, and they were hammered by the "climbing" and "altitude" that I considered as little to no impact. Considering that along with the chance of thunderstorms, I would at least consider these. I think they are really beginner friendly, you get somewhat out of town (north of Fountain Hills), you can make a day of it, and it should be a little cooler there.
    Making Milk by Day, Beer by Night

  7. #7
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    Yes, many of the trails mentioned on Flagstaff are above 7,000 feet. Unless you're wife and brother are in great shape and acclimated, it could make a short day trip not as much fun as it might seem, but I could be wrong. Just depends on their cardio fitness I guess and the amount of climbing.

    Forecast for Phoenix is in the 90's for this weekend with rain possible. I know 95 sounds super hot but if it's cloudy, and you get out early-ish it really is nice. You could hit up MMP at 7am, it should be real nice out, if a bit humid maybe.

    Anyhow Flag is super nice, just remember the altitude and possible thunder storms with severe lightning.

  8. #8
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by eatdrinkride
    Yes, many of the trails mentioned on Flagstaff are above 7,000 feet. Unless you're wife and brother are in great shape and acclimated, it could make a short day trip not as much fun as it might seem, but I could be wrong. Just depends on their cardio fitness I guess and the amount of climbing.

    Forecast for Phoenix is in the 90's for this weekend with rain possible. I know 95 sounds super hot but if it's cloudy, and you get out early-ish it really is nice. You could hit up MMP at 7am, it should be real nice out, if a bit humid maybe.

    Anyhow Flag is super nice, just remember the altitude and possible thunder storms with severe lightning.
    Not every trail in Flag takes off like Little Gnarly or Sunset. There are some good ones with mild elevation gain. 7000' for someone that is used to sea level is most definitly significant, but I don't think we're suggesting heading up some of the steep grades, and there are trails well above 10,000 in places where the air is that much thinner. There are a lot of good options in Flag to keep it low-impact.

    As I said before though, the only thing I'd be worried about is T-storms and avoiding them. I've been up to Flag before when that's been a deal-breaker.

    There's also Sedona I guess too, but it's hard to find trails there that don't have significant rocky sections. There's not quite as much "in between" the wide bike paths and singletrack trails, and lots of those singletrack trails have little spots that would be challenging for a beginner.
    "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.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem
    Not every trail in Flag takes off like Little Gnarly or Sunset. There are some good ones with mild elevation gain. 7000' for someone that is used to sea level is most definitly significant, but I don't think we're suggesting heading up some of the steep grades, and there are trails well above 10,000 in places where the air is that much thinner. There are a lot of good options in Flag to keep it low-impact.

    As I said before though, the only thing I'd be worried about is T-storms and avoiding them. I've been up to Flag before when that's been a deal-breaker.

    There's also Sedona I guess too, but it's hard to find trails there that don't have significant rocky sections. There's not quite as much "in between" the wide bike paths and singletrack trails, and lots of those singletrack trails have little spots that would be challenging for a beginner.
    I am well accustomed to the condition of Flagstaff trails and do not claim to be an expert or tour gide, but what you and I might consider easy/beginner, a true newb might think you were crazy for recommending. Can Shultz be ridden by a beginner, absolutely, I did it as a beginner. However, when you couple that with added high altitude and possible storms, you might have a Griswold like day trip. I am only saying this because I very recently took a buddy, who is in decent shape to the easy Ft Valley Loop, and he thought I was trying to kill him. The altutude was a shock for him, and every root and rock might as well have been an 8' drop off. Yeah, maybe he is a Doucheknuckle (Douchebag/Mouseknuckle Hybrid), but it wasn't like it was a good introductory experience for him. Just my $.02.
    Making Milk by Day, Beer by Night

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem

    That said, in Prescott on Sat the high is supposed to be 82, and on Sunday the high is supposed to be 71 (yes, I can't wait!). The same thing about the weather above kind of applies to Prescott, although due to the lower elevation the storms usually don't build 'till a little later and it's a shorter drive as well.

    ahhhhh.....your killing me!!!

    im going to be up there Sunday (moving my g-ma from Phx to Prescott)

    d@mnit!! no chance of bringin my bike either
    ...Dying is the easy part, its living that's the challenge...

  11. #11
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    Thank you for all of the responses! I greatly appreciate it. The Prescott trails seemed like a winner but this weather is going to make me stick closer to the Phoenix area. I am going to go check out the McDowell Mountain Park, I never knew it was there . Looks like it should be fun as long as the weather holds up until the afternoon.

  12. #12
    EDR
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireLikeIYA
    Thank you for all of the responses! I greatly appreciate it. The Prescott trails seemed like a winner but this weather is going to make me stick closer to the Phoenix area. I am going to go check out the McDowell Mountain Park area, I never knew it was there . Looks like it should be fun as long as the weather holds up until the afternoon.
    It's a great choice even if it does rain. I would go early b/c it's likely to be humid and once the sun is beating down on you it might get ugly. Hopefully it's overcast all morning. BTW bring 5 bucks to park, maybe $6 now.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireLikeIYA
    Thank you for all of the responses! I greatly appreciate it. The Prescott trails seemed like a winner but this weather is going to make me stick closer to the Phoenix area. I am going to go check out the McDowell Mountain Park, I never knew it was there . Looks like it should be fun as long as the weather holds up until the afternoon.
    I hope you enjoyed it out there and made it this morning before the sun broke through the clouds. I was out at Hawes, just south of the MMP, and when the sun broke through, it made it really tough. I bet if you were out there just after the rain, you had a blast.
    Making Milk by Day, Beer by Night

  14. #14
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    Well, just wanted to drop a quick post to remark on MMP. That place is a lot of fun. It's 6 bucks to park but well worth it. Didnt make it out there until shortly after 10 so it was a little hot and humid. Ended up doing the long loop of the competitive track which turned out as not being a great first time trail... Thought it would be fairly flat and easy since the park map lists it as a fast track, my bad . Everyone still had a good time though. The rest of the park looks like fun so I plan on going up there with my wife again sometime in the near future.

  15. #15
    Trail Monger
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    The sport loop at MMP is worth mentioning. The tech is easy once you make it down the first spout. I had trouble at "The Step". I guess it is going uphill and you need a bunny-hop to get up. The side trail cut over to it but I could not muster the speed to get up. Next time try to get there at 5:00am and ride sport to tech then to long. Come back and rerun the sport. BTW bring some people to race with, it is a roller-coaster!!!

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