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    What Are The Hidden Gems Of Tucson’s Mountain Biking Trails?

    Tucson, Arizona, is a desert oasis that offers an abundance of mountain biking trails that cater to all levels of riders. From technical rocky terrain to smooth-flowing trails, there’s something for everyone. 

    While many mountain bikers flock to the well-known trails, Tucson has hidden gems waiting to be explored. In this blog post, we’ll uncover some of Tucson’s hidden gems of mountain biking trails.

    Fantasy Island

    One of Tucson’s hidden gems is Fantasy Island. This trail system is located on the east side of Tucson and offers over 16 miles of singletrack trails. The terrain here is mostly flat, but don’t let that fool you. 

    The trails have technical features, including tight turns, berms, and jumps. Fantasy Island is a great trail system for riders of all levels. Beginners will appreciate the flowy nature of the trails, while advanced riders will enjoy the technical challenges.

    Sweetwater Preserve

    Sweetwater Preserve is another hidden gem in Tucson. This trail system is located on the west side of Tucson and offers over 8 miles of singletrack trails. The terrain here is mostly rocky, and the trails are tight and twisty. Sweetwater Preserve is a great trail system for intermediate and advanced riders. 

    The technical nature of the trails will keep advanced riders on their toes, while intermediate riders will enjoy the challenges they offer.

    Hidden Canyon Boen Loop Trail

    Hidden Canyon Bowen Loop Trail is a hiking trail in the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, Arizona. The trail is approximately 7.5 miles long and is rated moderate in terms of difficulty. The Hidden Canyon Bowen Loop Trail trailhead is located in Catalina State Park, a popular recreational area in the Santa Catalina Mountains. 

    The Hidden Canyon Bowen Loop Trail is named after two canyons that the trail passes through Hidden Canyon and Bowen Canyon. Along the way, hikers can see diverse vegetation, including saguaros, mesquite trees, wildflowers, and wildlife such as birds, lizards, and sometimes even larger animals like mountain lions and black bears.

    Starr Pass

    Starr Pass is a well-known trail system in Tucson, but it has some hidden gems that are often overlooked. The Starr Pass trail system offers over 20 miles of singletrack trails that cater to riders of all levels. 

    The hidden gems of Starr Pass are the trails that are located off of the main trails. These trails are often more technical and challenging than the main trails, but they offer some of the best ridings in Tucson. Some hidden gem trails at Starr Pass include Brown Mountain, Yetman Trail, and the 5 Bridges.

    McKenzie Ranch

    McKenzie Ranch is a newer Tucson trail system offering over 10 miles of singletrack trails. The terrain here is mostly smooth and flowy, with some technical sections thrown in for good measure. 

    McKenzie Ranch is a great trail system for riders of all levels, but beginners will appreciate the smooth nature of the trails. The highlight of McKenzie Ranch is the Big Daddy Loop, a fast and flowy trail offering some great views of the surrounding mountains.

    50-Year Trail

    The 50-Year Trail is located in the Catalina Mountains and offers over 10 miles of singletrack trails. The terrain here is rocky and technical, with some fast and flowy sections. One of the unique features of the 50-Year Trail is its connection to other trails in the area, including the Arizona Trail and the Golder Ranch Trail System. 

    This allows hikers and mountain bikers to explore even more of the surrounding wilderness areas. The trail is open year-round, but hikers and bikers are advised to bring plenty of water, wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and be prepared for changing weather conditions. In addition, mountain bikers are reminded to follow proper trail etiquette, including yielding to hikers and riding at a safe speed

    Bug Spring Trail

    The Bug Spring Trail is located in the Santa Catalina Mountains and offers over 4 miles of singletrack trails. The terrain here is rocky and technical, with some steep climbs and descents. The Bug Spring Trail is a great trail system for advanced riders looking for a challenging ride. 

    The highlight of the Bug Spring Trail is the views, some of the best in Tucson. One of the highlights of Bug Spring Trail is the Bug Spring, a natural spring near the upper end of the trail. The spring provides a water source for wildlife and is a popular spot for hikers to take a break and enjoy the scenery.

    Safety Practices When Going On Mountain Biking Trails

    Mountain biking is a thrilling and exciting sport that people of all ages and skill levels can enjoy. However, it’s important to prioritize safety when going on mountain biking trails. Here are some essential safety practices that every rider should follow:

    1. Wear a Helmet: Wearing a helmet is the most critical safety practice for mountain biking. A helmet can protect your head in case of a fall or crash. Ensure your helmet fits properly and is certified by a recognized safety standard organization.
    2. Check Your Bike: Before hitting the trail, it’s crucial to ensure your bike is in good working condition. Check your brakes, gears, tires, and suspensions to ensure they work correctly.
    3. Dress Appropriately: Dress in comfortable, breathable clothing that allows freedom of movement. Wear proper shoes with a good grip and gloves to protect your hands.
    4. Stay Hydrated: Mountain biking can be physically demanding, and it’s essential to stay hydrated by carrying a water bottle or hydration pack.
    5. Follow Trail Etiquette: Always follow the trail rules and signs. Yield to other riders and hikers, and don’t block the trail. Avoid skidding or braking excessively, as it can cause damage to the trail and increase the risk of accidents.
    6. Ride Within Your Limits: Don’t attempt trails or features beyond your skill level. Take your time to warm up and gradually increase your speed and difficulty.
    7. Ride with a Buddy: Riding with a friend or group is more fun and safer. If you’re new to the area or trail, consider joining a group ride or hiring a guide.
    8. Carry a First Aid Kit: It’s always a good idea to carry a small kit with basic supplies, such as band-aids, gauze, and antiseptic wipes.
    9. Stay Aware of Your Surroundings: Keep your eyes on the trail and your surroundings. Watch out for rocks, roots, and other obstacles that could cause a fall or crash.
    10. Don’t Ride Alone: It’s best not to ride alone, but if you must, let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return. Carry a charged cell phone in case of an emergency.

    By following these safety practices, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable mountain biking experience. Remember, safety comes first; the more you prioritize safety, the more fun you’ll have on the trails.


    Tucson has abundant mountain biking trails, and while many riders flock to the well-known trails, hidden gems are just waiting to be explored. Whether looking for technical challenges or smooth-flowing trails, Tucson has something for everyone. So, next time you’re in Tucson, check out some of these hidden gems and discover the beauty of the desert on two wheels.


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