South Mountain - National and DC loop?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    South Mountain - National and DC loop?

    Hi folks, I'm visiting Phoenix from out of town and brought my 6" trail bike along. I'm looking to spend only one day on South Mountain (without shuttle support). I love rocks, drops, and other tech, but I have a case of the winter climbing legs (so things are slow-going on the up). Earn my turns and live for the descent sort of thing. I have legs for probably 15-25 miles and 1k-2k ft of climbing, tops.

    I was thinking of looping the National trail and Desert Classic together, starting from the Pima lot. Should I climb up National past , descend Telegraph, and ride DC west to east, or should I go the other way taking DC out west, hiking up Telegraph, and descending National?

    Or is there another option that's recommended for the South Mountain "experience"?

  2. #2
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    If those were my 2 choices, I would personally do DC to Telegraph to National. Most seem to prefer actually taking the road from Telegraph to the Buena Vista parking lot and catching National there. I'm sure Telegraph is fun to descend (never tried) but it probably isn't done very often due alone to the volume of hikers on that section.

    To make DC as fun as possible, I would do DC, right on Secret, right on Lower Corona de Loma, then back on DC, up the helipad (a nice climb, within your limits per your comment), and down Goat Trail to Telegraph. Google South Mountain Maps for a good trail map.
    “Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.”
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  3. #3
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    I would skip Desert Classic and go up Mormon Loop, over to National and then continue climbing National until you've had enough (go up at least to the "waterfall" feature). Then descend National back to the Pima trailhead.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by rippling over canyons View Post
    I would skip Desert Classic and go up Mormon Loop, over to National and then continue climbing National until you've had enough (go up at least to the "waterfall" feature). Then descend National back to the Pima trailhead.
    Agreed, to get the most gnar gnar for your efforts.
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  5. #5
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    Agree, skip DC. Add East loop --> Javelina Up --> Mormon --> National to waterfall or saddle before Buena Vista parking lot.

  6. #6
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    I would also look at Geronimo. Well worth the hike back up.

  7. #7
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    To include more gnar in a similar number of miles try up Mormon to national, up to Buena vista, down Geronimo, up 24th street, then back down national to 48th street. Tidy with minimal HAB for a strong rider but I HAB 24th going up.
    Keep the rubber side down

  8. #8
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    Re: South Mountain - National and DC loop?

    I agree with skipping DC. Miles and miles of lameness on a 6'' bike unless you simply want to pedal.

    Heading up Mormon loop from the Pima lot and connecting with National would be my recommendation. Then continue on natty as far as you want. All the way to telegraph if you are felling spunky at the Buena Vista lot..... Road backwards to Buena Vista lot (to save legs and time again)...bomb Natty the whole way down to Pima lot would be a good day of fun techie climbing and descending. That or the 24th st option but that route might be more easily and quickly done with a guide as I seem to remember some neighborhood riding from the bottom of Geronimo over to 24th st lot.

    I do suggest starting up Mormon loop rather than directly up Natty at the start for a natty virgin simply to save the legs however if you really enjoy techie ups then by all means hit it at the start. Lots of folks like to session spots of national in the UP direction. And when you find yourself pushing your bike up the short techie boulder steeps remember that EVERYTHING both up and down is rideable by someone. There's not a section I haven't personally witnessed being cleaned by somebody. Have fun...report back on your day.

  9. #9
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    Up Mormon to National, then climb national (getting a preview of the descent) until you've had enough, then bomb down national. I really like descending Mormon, maybe better than national. Alot more uninterrupted downhilling where you can really let off the brakes and get alot of speed.

    It is easier to climb mormon than National from the Pima parking lot. I just dont like the idea of out-and-backs so that is why I dont climb and descend Mormon.

  10. #10
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    I agree with eatdrinkride. Pima parking lot take Mormon loop up to national to saddle or even Buena vista parking lot and down national. its 10 mile ride (to saddle and back) about 1500 ft of climbing via strava but probably a lil more if you count the ups and downs maybe even a second lap if you up to it. DC is not fun for a 6 in bike super xc. bring water don't let the cooler temps fool you.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTBCanuck View Post
    To include more gnar in a similar number of miles try up Mormon to national, up to Buena vista, down Geronimo, up 24th street, then back down national to 48th street. Tidy with minimal HAB for a strong rider but I HAB 24th going up.
    Just did this exact loop this weekend. Lots of good riding but I was with a group that was WAAAAAAAAAAAY faster than me, which is just about everyone, so by the time we descended Geronimo I was gassed from trying to keep up. Hiked probably 95% of 24th when I would typically hike only about 75%. Then sometime right after the Mormon/National junction my rear hub gave way and it was a "chainless" ride all the way back down National.

    Highly recommended as you get all the technical climbing of Mormon & National, a pretty good DH trial in Geronimo, way more technical climbing that most can handle in going back up 24th and then bomb the rest of National.

  12. #12
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    First off, thanks for all the suggestions, folks. Really appreciated.

    I ended up heading out right after tysonnemb's reply and took his loop. I really wanted to do DC to get the mileage in. Visiting from the Northeast, our riding season ended mid-October, so I wanted to get some fitness in with my gnar. I did DC including Secret, Corona de Loma, Helipad, and Goat, then HAB'd up Telegraph, took the road to Buena Vista, and rode National down. I got mostly what I was looking for - about 20 miles, 2200ft of vert, and some good fun stuff along the way.

    Gotta say, the National descent is fantastic. If I have another day for Phoenix riding while I'm out here, it'll be there.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by big0mike View Post
    Just did this exact loop this weekend. Lots of good riding but I was with a group that was WAAAAAAAAAAAY faster than me, which is just about everyone, so by the time we descended Geronimo I was gassed from trying to keep up. Hiked probably 95% of 24th when I would typically hike only about 75%. Then sometime right after the Mormon/National junction my rear hub gave way and it was a "chainless" ride all the way back down National.

    Highly recommended as you get all the technical climbing of Mormon & National, a pretty good DH trial in Geronimo, way more technical climbing that most can handle in going back up 24th and then bomb the rest of National.
    Did this loop for the first time ever this past weekend also. Tons of fun. Never been on Geronimo or from the 24th lot before, had an absolute blast. Going up 24th was rough, but mainly due to the nice day and trails being enjoyed by hikers. Tough to get any sort of start. Good times.
    “Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world.”
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  14. #14
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    had the pleasure of riding south mountain this week

    did

    start pima canyon trail head

    desert classic to the end and back to corona de loma desert classic is fun for sure, nothing technical but a bomber ride if your looking to rip and pedal its actually a blast

    corona de loma was all hike a bike but I knew what I was getting into well worth it later in the day

    nat trail
    to moron trail
    to javalina trail
    to beverly canyon
    to car

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