Tucson Trip - December- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Tucson Trip - December

    I'm spending the holiday in Tucson and I'd like some opinions on the trails I'd like to ride, which I got from mtbproject and sdmb.

    I'm a mid-to high end intermediate that rides the roots, rocks and rock gardens of typical New England. Standard ride is 17-20 miles.

    AZ Trail - Sahuarita Road to Corondao Boundary
    AZ Trail / Oracle Park
    AZ Trail - Pistol Hill / Three Bridges
    Starr Pass
    50 Year Trail

    I'm there for 6 days.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Starr Pass (~40 miles of trails that have everything from flowy [Starr Pass Loop] to stupid-chunk [Krein])

    There's a way to connect Starr Pass to Robles, adding more flowy trail to what can be a HUGE loop when combined w/ Starr Pass.

    In addition, there's a way to connect Starr Pass to Brown Mountain, which has Jekyll and Hyde layout; very flowy on the low side and steep/chunk/tech on the high side. And the connector itself (Golden Gate) has a reputation for humiliating.

    50-Year is a wonderful, "must-ride" area. You'll want to do the "Upper 50" loop and follow a local that can show you the alternate lines that have good pucker-factor. The only drawback I'll state with 50-Year is that the Upper 50 loop is only about 15 miles. There are quite a few more miles of trails in the area, but you'll probably need a guide to help you keep the less-traveled stuff together.

    Not too far from 50-Year, there's the Tortolita Mountains. The Como, Maus, Wild Burro, Javalina Loop will be perfect in the December weather. Its only drawback is a bit of mellow pavement to complete the loop. That's about a 20 mile loop (I think. Might be a little more.)

    If Bug Spring is not under snow, consider a Bug Spring -> Prison Camp -> AZ Trail -> Millagrosa shuttle. Millagrosa will rob your bike of parts, like derailleurs and paint, if you're not careful.

    Pistol Hill to Three Bridges and back is very XC. Not a whole lot of elevation gain/loss and very little tech. There's only one climb of note on the route. I'm not saying "don't do it". I'm just trying to set your expectations.

    I might be available to show you some of the trails during that time.
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  3. #3
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    I would second what Evil above says about the GBug->Prison->Milly route for chunk. Way fun beat down. I would also encourage you to still do Pistol Hill to Three Bridges and back on the AZT. Don't let the "XC" comment fool you, it's tremendously beautiful out there with a perennial stream at Three Bridges and enough terrain change and minor chunk to keep you on your toes....not a buff ride except for the last part by Pistol Hill....and that's the kind of buff that you can just rail.




  4. #4
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    Honeybee/ Primo up to ridge line and back is about 25 miles. Good stuff.

    Wanna beat your heart up a bit go up to 50yr. Do the chutes. Back up and do the Gem. Back up and do Upper50 down through Middlegate. To add mileage start at Catalina State park. All these trails are easily found on Strava and maybe Garmin Connect.

    Also one of the local clubs does an 8 days of Xmas. Check tucsonmtb.com for that event.

  5. #5
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    I'll be visiting Tucson in early Jan and appreciate the trail suggestions. Any places to rent bikes down there?

    Cheers,
    Mike

  6. #6
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    If you hit up 50 year (recommended) start from Golder Ranch, not Catalina. It gets you on the better trails sooner and you are closer to the Upper 50 area.

    Check into the parking pass/permit for parking at Golder Ranch.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbcracken View Post
    I'll be visiting Tucson in early Jan and appreciate the trail suggestions. Any places to rent bikes down there?

    Cheers,
    Mike
    I rented from Oro Valley Trek. They had both a HT and FS, both 29'ers. They were more than adequate bikes, but the tires weren't all that great compared to what I am used to.

    Make sure you are specific about which location you intend on picking the bike up from. I called the Oro Valley shop and setup a rental with them. Showed up the day of, and the bike was downtown. Luckily they had a HT there that day, so I could go straight over to 50yr.

    I called at least 5-6 other shops, and Trek was the only one I found that had a FS available as a rental.

  8. #8
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    Looks like you already have some great trails picked out! I'd make sure to ride the honey bee area if you like fast XC, it's always a treat riding 25+ miles out there coming from the other side of town.

    My favorite loop, pending no snow, is Molino Basin up on Mt. Lemon, up prison camp, hitch the road to the start of bugs and bomb down 8 miles of epic singletrack. Climbing is hard but the reward is epic. This would also depend on snow at the top of Bugs.

    Anything on AZT will be killer this time of year. From Loma Alta all the way to Sonita, the Kentucky Camp area is fantastic also.

    Also for some good techy climbing and mileage (slower then you'll be use to in NE) start at the main Starr Pass trailhead, head to Cat Mountain and then link up to Robles.

    If any of these GPX's are need just shoot me a message. I've done them all!

    Depending on what type of bike you'd like to rent, Ben's Bikes (Ben's Bikes of Tucson) in Rita Ranch (still Tucson, SE part of town) has full suspension 27.5 Anthems for rent. Nice 2.5k retail bikes for rent!
    2013 XTC 27.5, 2013 GIANT ANTHEM X ADVANCED 1x11, 2014 GIANT TCR, 2015 Propel
    http://www.bigtolittlebryan.com

  9. #9
    Click Click Click
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    6 days, 5 options, ride them all
    "You either want to or you don't."

  10. #10
    Happy Trails
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    Tucson Trip - December

    Worked in Tucson earlier this week so took the opportunity on way back home to Phoenix area to ride about 15 miles of the 50-Year Trail on the northeast side of town in the fantastic foothills of Oro Valley under Mt Lemmon. Good stuff. Started at the Equestrian Center in Catalina State Park and turned around at the Chutes when I nearly ran in to this ole' bull. Trail is what I would call semi-technical rocky single-track; No big drops but some extended climbs and descents in Maryland style rock gardens. I would definitely make the drive for this ride, especially for a weekend to hook it up with a lap around the Old Pueblo race course and the flowy trails in Star Valley. Also big shout to the guys at Trek Bikes of Tucson on AZ-77 7645 N. Oracle Road for the quick swap on rear tire and tips on the trail.

  11. #11
    wowarizona.com
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    50 is just the beginning in the Golder area.
    CJ
    WOW Arizona!

  12. #12
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    Looks like you have some great trails picked out. Here is what I would ride for my 6 days.

    1.AZT from Redington rd (Bellota) to the Millie turnoff and back.
    2.AZT Pistol Hill>3 Bridges
    3.Starr Pass to Robles via Cat Mountain
    4.50yr
    5.Bugs thru Millie
    6. Torts the fun chunky xc version EvilP mentions. I have a gps file of it and all those if you need any. Also https://www.facebook.com/TucsonTORCA does shuttle rides on fridays if you are up for those. I go on my xc 29er and make fun of the dhers when I pass them. Only thing worse than getting chicked on a trail for a dher is gettin 29er'd.

  13. #13
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    jumping on this thread. i'm heading out to Tucson (really Vail) area for this thanksgiving weekend.

    Looks like i'm just a mile or two from the Pistol Hills trail, glad to find this info here, looks like i'll check that out.

    One question... is that a very popular trail or busy? I'll be riding alone so it'll be nice to know there's others out there. usually when i'm visiting there, I trial run down to the cienega creek and never see anyone.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by gzank6 View Post
    jumping on this thread. i'm heading out to Tucson (really Vail) area for this thanksgiving weekend.

    Looks like i'm just a mile or two from the Pistol Hills trail, glad to find this info here, looks like i'll check that out.

    One question... is that a very popular trail or busy? I'll be riding alone so it'll be nice to know there's others out there. usually when i'm visiting there, I trial run down to the cienega creek and never see anyone.
    Its a fairly busy trail. I am sure if you run it on the weekend you will come across someone. Its pretty straight forward though not really any trails that split off or anything if you stay on the well beaten ST you should be fine.

  15. #15
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    cool, weather looks great too, thanks and happy thanksgiving

  16. #16
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    thanks again for the thread and tips. made it out for 4 days last weekend. rode 3 of them.
    1st day took my nephew to check out 3 bridges, rode along the train tracks from Vail. His bike broke down, we walked the 4 miles back.
    2nd day, tode back to 3 bridges and up the AZT a little bit.
    3rd day, finally had enough time and some daylight to get out there. back again to 3 bridges and up the AZT to 3/4 pistol hill. It is indeed a good trail, nice changes in terrain very narrow and great scenery. As mentioned above, mostly XC and easy to follow. I ran into only one rider, strangely enough a girl riding alone.

  17. #17
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    I had a blast on my trip. I ended up riding:

    50 year trail and the various off-shoots - middle gate, baby jesus. did the chutes 3 times!
    Honeybee Canyon.
    AZ Trail - Pistol Hill to Zimmerman and then back to the forest boundary.
    AZ Trail - Sahuarita Road to a few miles past the Corondao Boundary - i didn't realize i hit it as there was no sign 'entering ...' then back to Zimmerman. Going under highway 10 is creepy.
    Star Pass.

    If i was told I could only ride the Pistol Hill trail, i would not be upset - that has to be the most beautiful trail i've ever ridden.

    The only observation i didn't like was that although every biker i encountered was generally polite, not a single rider coming downhill ever yielded to me or another rider climbing. One nut buster climb on Pistol Hill above the horse farm i just about got run off the trail by 3 guys bombing down it.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by habsfan View Post
    I had a blast on my trip. I ended up riding:

    50 year trail and the various off-shoots - middle gate, baby jesus. did the chutes 3 times!
    Honeybee Canyon.
    AZ Trail - Pistol Hill to Zimmerman and then back to the forest boundary.
    AZ Trail - Sahuarita Road to a few miles past the Corondao Boundary - i didn't realize i hit it as there was no sign 'entering ...' then back to Zimmerman. Going under highway 10 is creepy.
    Star Pass.

    If i was told I could only ride the Pistol Hill trail, i would not be upset - that has to be the most beautiful trail i've ever ridden.

    The only observation i didn't like was that although every biker i encountered was generally polite, not a single rider coming downhill ever yielded to me or another rider climbing. One nut buster climb on Pistol Hill above the horse farm i just about got run off the trail by 3 guys bombing down it.
    Sounds like you hit some of the best stuff Tucson has to offer! My favorite is the Sahuarita as far south as your legs can take you!

    There are a few assphats around town that don't realize trail etiquette and are more concerned about their KOM on the descent. I LOVE climbing the downhill trails (bugs, milli, prison camp) and constantly get almost ran into. I rarely need to hammer it on the descents as I'm not racing nor wanting to risk my life.

    Trail conditions only improve over the winter time so come back soon!
    2013 XTC 27.5, 2013 GIANT ANTHEM X ADVANCED 1x11, 2014 GIANT TCR, 2015 Propel
    http://www.bigtolittlebryan.com

  19. #19
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    I'm enjoying see the list of trails. I'll be arriving tomorrow in Tucson and have a ride planned with some locals on Sunday on Bugs and where ever they take me. Looking forward to trying out some of those other trails. I'm recovering from bronchitis and looking to put in some easy long miles during the weekdays on XC/AM trails during the daytime hours. PM me if anyone wants to show me some of those other trails. I'll have Mon & Tue open to ride anything then the rest of my family flies in on Wed. I'll be bringing my bike down with me for this trip.

    Cheers,
    Mike

  20. #20
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    You may want to try Millie instead of bugs. Because there is a fair amount of snow on bugs right now. Millie is clear though just rode it today.

  21. #21
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    I rode Millie, Starr Pass area, Honeybee & Sweetwater quickie. My Sunday ride on Millie didn't start out too well, when my right leg found a prickly pear. I still have a couple cacti spines in my leg and just waiting for them to dissolve. I took Monday off then rode Starr Pass area and really enjoyed the variety of trails and the views there. Honeybee was a great set of trails to really stretch the legs out and turn up the throttle. Just as I was leaving the road section, I met a local rider who was gracious enough to let me follow his lead. Friday morning I had just a couple hours and did all the trails at Sweetwater. Great job at Sweetwater on all the trail signs for figuring out directions. The rest of the trails appear to have no trail signs but I used MTB Project mostly to figure out where to go.

    I look forward to my next trip down there...

    Cheers,
    Mike

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