Tucson Goodness

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by BBJohn, Jan 1, 2015.

  1. BBJohn

    BBJohn Member

    Took a few days off and went down to Tucson to enjoy ourselves check and out some trails in an area we had never been. We stopped up in the Cave Creek area and as usual Julie hiked with Dixie and I took off on the bike. We went to the relatively new Apache Trailhead in the Sonoran Desert Preserve. Nothing real technical out here but some fun loops and a bit of climbing, but not much. Some of the climbs up to the top of the Sidewinder Trail are a little loose and full of shale, but overall the trails are fairly free of chuck and are sweeping fast up and downs through dry river crossings. Nice view of the valley below from up top and the trails are marked really well, can’t get lost out here. Got in 15 miles and 1500’ with not too much effort. We went down to Glendale, got a room and went to Old Downtown for dinner. Glendale has a tradition of putting on a awesome light display in the Historic District called Glendale Glitters, pretty cool to see in person.

    Next day we headed to Tucson. Stopped to ride in the Tucson Mountain Park on the way to our casita. Changed my mind from the trail I was going to ride and that was a mistake. The area around Starr Pass is the ticket, I missed and went over by Gates Pass, do not do this, it was fun, but the trails are not marked well if at all and so many trails out there if you don’t have a good sense of direction, well all the cholla cactus look about the same and you may spend days riding the same loop. The Gates Pass Trail was a skinny rock river bed type trail as was the first section of Prospector, after that just a series of flat smooth desert riding and even a flat double track. Still fun to get out, but not the greatest area even visually, hence no pictures.

    We headed out Sunday to Pistol Hill, I took off to Three Bridges and Julie towards the Saguaro National Park. The ride out to Three Bridges was simply great. This trail is awesome, lots of personality from relatively smooth fast flowy corners and swoops down and ups to some pretty challenging chuck areas in limestone. Felt I rode so far at one point I thought I was out behind Circus Circus in Vegas, but probably just a mirage. :shock: The trail climbs and drops and repeats for about 9 miles to Three Bridges named for as far as I could count two bridges. One train track bridge and one road bridge both over a lower ground level train track, but I never saw the third bridge. Where is that confounded bridge? :wtf:
    Great section of the AZ trail and this alone was well worth the trip. I’m usually not one for out and backs but this one was great both directions about 1700’ gain and loss. Didn’t get many pictures as I was honestly having too much fun to stop and click away. We headed back to The Casitas where we were staying. <a class="postlink" href="http://www.thecasitas.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.thecasitas.com/</a>
    This is a 20 acre ranch, the owners live on the property and all I can say is Beth and Bob are absolutely fantastic hosts and have a beautiful property. Our casita Harvest Wind was perfect for two people and a puppy dog, the spool (spa/pool) at 102 degrees was a great way to sooth sore muscles after a day on the trail. The sunsets weren’t half bad also.

    I was feeling it the next day as I had only got in about 25 rides since an injury in early July so took it easy and went back to the Pistol Hill trailhead and did the out and back the opposite direction to Cmo. Loma Alta via Hope Camp trail into the national forest. Prerequisite bike porn. Flat trail with a steep loose double track climb near the trailhead at Loma Alta. Pretty area (in a desert kinda way) with tons of saguaros. I’m sure it isn’t only me that thinks these things look like they are flipping you off at every glance. One river crossing, but two steep switches right after it and after flat smooth riding wasn’t ready for it. This was taken right after the switches looking back down at the river and trail. Backed up and cleaned the switches, not a thing difficult on this ride, just a good cruiser to get in a few miles, 16 for the roundtrip total. Don’t get much elevation gain/loss anywhere, but like Sedona you are always pedaling climbing and descending so a lot of work, 1100’ for this ride.

    Tuesday, got up, loaded up the truck and headed out to the Sweetwater Preserve west of town. Much like my summer trip ended this trip on an awesome note. This area is a bunch of trails (they are adding more) that you could literally spend hours and hours out here just doing different loops. Again nothing to terribly difficult out here, but some really, really fun stuff. There are a few chucky areas and they sneak up on you as your flying along. Smooth as all get out and all of a sudden you go around a corner and there is chuck to climb or descend, keeps you on your toes. Got to be careful as the speed here can get to you and next thing you know you might just blow a corner and go head long into cactus. It was the nicest day weather wise we got on the trip, shorts and a jersey at 9 am, the other days it was in the mid to high 30’s at the starts around 10-11.

    I know I missed a bunch of trails out there that are by far more challenging and usually more like me to tackle those, but lack of conditioning and my overall physical stamina kept me on the more tame trails, this time. Don’t get me wrong these were not green rides,(well okay the AZ trail to Cmo Loma Alta and back was) just not the normal trails I would ride, but thankful for the trails I did ride and a bit of time away.

    What a great way to spend a few days!!


    Glendale Glitters.jpg

    Pistol Hill 1.jpg

    Pistol Hill 2.jpg

    Pistol Hill 3.jpg



    Bike Porn.jpg

    Cmo Loma Alta 1.jpg

    Cmo Loma Alta 2.jpg

    Cmo Loma Alta 3.jpg

    Sweetwater 1.jpg

    Sweetwater 2.jpg

    Sweetwater 3.jpg
  2. abuck55

    abuck55 Member

    Very nice! Great pics too!
    Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year!!
  3. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Lebec, California
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Yeti ASR5c, SC Hightower
    Man I'm glad you found us on 2N10 in Big Bear one day!!!
    What a great addition to the imtbtrails family! I admire that you and Julie get out to unfamiliar territories to check it out for the rest of us... :cool:

    Got to admit I'm pretty jealous of all the adventures you go on but most thankful that you bring them back to us in the form of excellent ride reports with plenty of pics.

    Thanks for the pics and story brothah...
    ...and how's those shoulders of yours holding out?

  4. rossage

    rossage iMTB Addict

    East Sacramento
    Ross Lawson
    Current Bike:
    I have been out to Tucson numerous times for business (Rock show/Jade) and always bring my bike. Cosmic Ray's Arizona trail guide is a humorous book that will get you started on some good stuff in AZ.
  5. hill^billy

    hill^billy Well-Known Member

    Doug Lake
    Current Bike:
    Yeti SB-66
    Most excellent John! Thank you, and HAPPY NEW YEAR :cool:
  6. BBJohn

    BBJohn Member

    Rossage, had Cosmic Rays book with me. Had it for a few years now, your right, it is a great for some guidance. One thing I have found with it is it isn't always accurate with the "puck" factor. Guess we are used to riding the Gabes for that and doesn't translate to some of the AZ trails.
  7. BBJohn

    BBJohn Member

    My pleasure. :D
    Happy New Year to you too Doug!
  8. ridinrox

    ridinrox Well-Known Member

    Current Bike:
    '16 Giant Trance Advance
    Thanks for sharing John. Great pics - I do adore desert riding and go ahead and flip those mo-fo sangueros off too, I do ... ;)
  9. Maddog

    Maddog Well-Known Member

    Greg Madison
    Current Bike:
    Intense Tracer 275
    Thanks for the terrific RR John! Excellent pics and descriptions! I have relatives in Phoenix so I've ridden a little there, Sedona and Flag so now I may have to hit Tuscon on a future spring break! Oh, thanks for joining the 5-Deer ride today! I could sure use that 102 degree hot tub now but since I don't have one, I'll have to use the Eddie Murphy method from Trading Places :? !
  10. BBJohn

    BBJohn Member

    Don't light a cigar then. :D
    Great to see you yesterday, thanks for calling the ride Maddog!!
    Arizona has some incredible trails in many areas and most mountain bikers underestimate how much work desert riding is and just how beautiful it is out there. What looks like a simple 12 mile ride works you and you feel like you've done double that.
    I'm with you Rox, just started going to the desert last Christmas break, I'm hooked. Been going to Sedona for years, but for some reason don't really think of that as desert at least not what it is like in Tucson.