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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Timothy G. Parrish's Avatar
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    Trip to Phoenix & Sedona in February. Looking for Suggestions.

    A friend of mine is participating in a Spartan race in Phoenix at McDowell in February. We decided to make a mini-vacation out of it. Another friend will join. 3 people total.


    I read the sticky at the top, but it seems outdated. I did get some good bits of other info from a few other recent threads, which is why we decided on Sedona for a day.


    Preliminary itinerary:


    02/06 - Arrive at PHX late night. Check in to hotel.


    02/07 - Rent MTBs, ride somewhere around Phoenix.


    02/08 - Head to Sedona for the day. Rent bikes from Over the Edge.


    02/09 - Rent MTBs, ride half-day around Phoenix, close to McDowell, preferably.


    02/10 - Rent MTBs, or go hiking. Can be a day trip 1-2 hours away.


    02/11 - Depart PHX in the AM.


    What are some good shops to rent from close Phoenix?


    What are some decent, convenient trails close to Phoenix, and in particular, to McDowell for the half-day ride on Saturday, 02/09?


    We're advanced/intermediate riders from Upstate SC/WNC (Pisgah, etc.). Our typical rides are 25-35 miles a day, 2500-6000 feet of climbing per ride. We like technical terrain, but views/vistas are welcome. We won't turn down a day of soft rolling grade/flow either. Hardtails preferred where there is not much chunk/gnar; otherwise full-suspension will do. Bikes don't need to be premium (Evil, etc.), but we don't want to ride junk either (2014 Kona Process, 2015 Kona Explosif, 2018 Kona Honzo, and 2017 Santa Cruz Bronson are what we own for comparison).

    We'd like to sample as much trail variation as possible while there; some gnar one day, some views another, and maybe local/regional park stuff another.

    Are there any good PDF maps for use in Avenza for any of the suggested trail systems?

    Any other input, such as areas to avoid because of traffic, where to eat, etc. are welcome.


    The goal here is to maximize our trail time and avoid spending a ton of time in the car, especially when in Phoenix. We wake up early, so we should be ready to roll on bikes as soon as we can pick up rentals and hit the trails (most shops seem to open at 9 AM, or later).

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    suvlako
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    If you want chunk, then Tucson has the goods and it's a 1.5 hour drive from Phx. Call Homegrownmtb.com for rentals and beta. Don't take my word for it though.

    https://www.pinkbike.com/news/local-...tucson-az.html

  3. #3
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    Trailforks has good maps of the Phoenix area.

    Personally in February I would not bother with Sedona. Can be really cold and can be 90 min to 2 hr drive each way. Phx has so many miles of trails you won't be able to come close to riding even 25% of the trails in 3 days. Weather should be nice all day. We have smooth stuff, chunky stuff and everything in between all in or just on the edge of the Phx Metro area.

    McDowells can be smooth or chunky. East side of the mtn is more smooth, but west side is all chunky rock. Geology is different. South Mtn has lots of nasty chunky lines and trails you can spend days riding and testing your skils. Phx Mtn Preserve is nice area in the middle of the city that still feels like you are out there. Some really good chunk and some good techy XC stuff. Browns Ranch is very smooth, but pretty and turns for days and days. If you want remote expereince there is Black Canyon Trail. You feel like you are miles from anywhere, but only 5-6 miles straight line to I-17. However there is no straight line access so you are still out there. Gold Canyon is very pretty and farther east is Arizona Trail. Some very pretty tough miles in really remote areas. Nothing super technical, but not easy miles either. That its just a few of the areas, but there are so many more. Cave Creek is blast too. Oh I could go on and on.
    Joe
    '18 Specialized Epic 29", Vassago Verhauen SS 29", '13 Santa Cruz Solo 27.5", XC, AM, blah blah blah.. I just ride.

  4. #4
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    Watch Sedona weather as it gets close-----snowed on me in November a couple of years ago------it may make more sense to do Tucson as the drive from PHX is about the same

  5. #5
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    So you're planning a separate bike rental each day? I would think you might get a better deal and have a lot less hassle renting bikes from one place for all four days.

    It could be a bit chilly but if the weather is clear Sedona will be a great place to ride. And since you'd be there during the week traffic getting up there and trail traffic won't be as bad as on weekends. I'd go if conditions look good. If you can't make it to Sedona another option for a must-do ride is Arizona Trail between Picketpost and Kelvin. It's a point to point that requires two vehicles, but is highly worth it - in my top 5 rides anywhere. https://www.trailforks.com/trails/ar...ost-to-kelvin/. It is a tough ride but close to your normal stats of 36mi/+6k

    South Mountain is the place to go for chunky/tech trails. Gold Canyon in Apache Junction is another fun system with a good mix of everything and great views. Lots of riding up around the McDowells too. Take a look at Trailforks. You'll see 3 connected riding areas right there - McDowell Sonoran Preserve (aka Browns Ranch), McDowell Mtn Regional Park, and McDowell Mountain. The first two are mostly fast/flowy xc desert riding while the third has trails that go over some tough passes with burly climbs and fun descents.

    I'd suggest picking which locations you want to ride and then ask for suggestions on routes. Most areas have a ton of trails so picking a specific route is the hard part for someone not familiar with the area.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by evdog View Post
    So you're planning a separate bike rental each day? I would think you might get a better deal and have a lot less hassle renting bikes from one place for all four days.
    Potentially, yes. But if we do not go to Sedona, (which is looking less promising based on the great input thus far) then we'd probably look into multi-day rental. Although, we really don't want to stuff bikes in a hotel room. And it would be nice to ride a few different bikes to see what else is out there.

  7. #7
    No Clue Crew
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    At that time of year Iíd just stay in Phx. You wonít scratch the surface in three or four days.
    Just like a raindrop, I was born to fall.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by evdog View Post
    So you're planning a separate bike rental each day? I would think you might get a better deal and have a lot less hassle renting bikes from one place for all four days.

    It could be a bit chilly but if the weather is clear Sedona will be a great place to ride. And since you'd be there during the week traffic getting up there and trail traffic won't be as bad as on weekends. I'd go if conditions look good. If you can't make it to Sedona another option for a must-do ride is Arizona Trail between Picketpost and Kelvin. It's a point to point that requires two vehicles, but is highly worth it - in my top 5 rides anywhere. https://www.trailforks.com/trails/ar...ost-to-kelvin/. It is a tough ride but close to your normal stats of 36mi/+6k

    South Mountain is the place to go for chunky/tech trails. Gold Canyon in Apache Junction is another fun system with a good mix of everything and great views. Lots of riding up around the McDowells too. Take a look at Trailforks. You'll see 3 connected riding areas right there - McDowell Sonoran Preserve (aka Browns Ranch), McDowell Mtn Regional Park, and McDowell Mountain. The first two are mostly fast/flowy xc desert riding while the third has trails that go over some tough passes with burly climbs and fun descents.

    I'd suggest picking which locations you want to ride and then ask for suggestions on routes. Most areas have a ton of trails so picking a specific route is the hard part for someone not familiar with the area.
    This. Agree with above. My breakdown

    Trailforks is your friend for planning and navigation

    Sedona worth it IF weather good. Incredible scenery and unique landscape that rewards skill and fitness like no other place Iíve been. I prefer west Sedona but if you are into tech the east side may be more to your liking.

    Browns ranch - close to mcdowell (actually connects via trails) pretty, Flowy, web. No tech, not a lot of elevation change. Can incorporate with Mcdowell Mountain Park for some seriously long cross country rides

    South mountain - best ďtechĒ in phoenix. There is plenty, but national trail is the must ride tech trail

    BCT - one of my favorites. Good place to get long rides, great scenery and adventure some climbing.

    AZT - picket post to kelvin. Some of the best remote riding I have ever done. This and BCT are similar types of adventure riding - my personal favorite.

    Mcdowell west side is chunky and close, connects with Mcdowell mountain park via some of the pass trails. Not bad but there is better.

    Phoenix mountain preserve will be far if you are staying in Mcdowell Park. and though I ride there a lot probably not worth the trip from there - go to south mountain instead. Somewhat similar terrain.

    Gold canyon - I have not been! But is supposed to be beautiful.

    I personally would just rent the bike for 4 days to give yourself the greatest freedom, and so you can get used to one bike. Renting 3-4 different bikes just sound like it would suck. I personally prefer to travel with my own bike, even when flying.

  9. #9
    Meatbomb
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    Bones nailed it !!!

  10. #10
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    Unless itís raining or snowing I sure wouldnít come all this way and not ride Sedona.

  11. #11
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    Trailforks has good maps of the Phoenix area.

    Personally in February I would not bother with Sedona. Can be really cold and can be 90 min to 2 hr drive each way. Phx has so many miles of trails you won't be able to come close to riding even 25% of the trails in 3 days. Weather should be nice all day. We have smooth stuff, chunky stuff and everything in between all in or just on the edge of the Phx Metro area.

    McDowells can be smooth or chunky. East side of the mtn is more smooth, but west side is all chunky rock. Geology is different. South Mtn has lots of nasty chunky lines and trails you can spend days riding and testing your skils. Phx Mtn Preserve is nice area in the middle of the city that still feels like you are out there. Some really good chunk and some good techy XC stuff. Browns Ranch is very smooth, but pretty and turns for days and days. If you want remote expereince there is Black Canyon Trail. You feel like you are miles from anywhere, but only 5-6 miles straight line to I-17. However there is no straight line access so you are still out there. Gold Canyon is very pretty and farther east is Arizona Trail. Some very pretty tough miles in really remote areas. Nothing super technical, but not easy miles either. That its just a few of the areas, but there are so many more. Cave Creek is blast too. Oh I could go on and on.
    The Cave Creek Cactus Classic loop might be good; itís not too technical and includes some riding on the road but I really enjoyed the solitude of a weekday ride one spring a couple of years ago. Youíll need to find or download a GPX file to follow it; some parts are pretty confusing.

    A ride in the McDowells that I did one time included Sunrise trail and Windgate pass - both of those trails are very scenic - Windgate ridden from East to West.

    If you havenít been to Sedona itís worth the trip but weather is pretty variable; over Thanksgiving we used to camp and Iíve been rained out half the rime but the other half the time perfect riding weather. Iíd recommend broken arrow sub rock little horse - the Twin Buttes loop; and make sure to take a trip down Slim Shady; itís a hoot. Chuckwagon is one of my favorites, or if you want to loaf a bit take one of the well-known loops in West Sedona.

  13. #13
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    While I don't live in AZ I do visit every year to ride. If the weather is good, Sedona is a MUST RIDE. I dream about the trails the rest of the year until I can get back there.

    Over the Edge has Evil and some other high end bikes or The Fat Tire Bike Shop has Ibis in Sedona.

    In Phoenix I would recommend renting a Pivot from Bikemasters. They have treated me well and the Mach 5.5 I rented from them was perfect.

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