Mountain Bike Trails According to Casey

*This site is currently under construction, so please bear with me...*

Flagstaff Area Trails
This is some of the best singletrack I've ever ridden. Riding season is late spring to early fall, and there's something for everyone, although beginners should use extreme caution. To reach these Flagstaff area trails, travel North out of Flagstaff on HWY 180, turn right on Schultz Pass Road, fork left (right is Mt. Elden Lookout Road), and as the road turns to dirt, look to the right for a the parking area. All of these trails are accessible from this point. There is a map of the trail system at the end of the parking area.

Schultz Creek Trail
This is gem of a trail. It's about 5 miles long (about 10 round-trip), and all down-hill (after climbing up! ha-ha). Most riders treat it as an out and back ride, beginning at the trail head parking area. This hard pack trail winds and twists through the forest along side and sometimes, across Schultz Creek (which is usually dry). It is a low-slope climb out until you reach an open camping area. Turn around, put it in the big ring and hang on to your bars! There are some rocks and other surprises so pay attention and keep it under control! Brush-up on your reflexes and watch for other riders, hikers, dogs, horses, and motorcycles. Yes, this is the one trail in the system open to motorcycles. This is a good trail to get acquainted with the area terrain.

This is the entire trail. The video smooths-out and picks-up about a minute in...


Catwalk and Sunset Trails
This is about as good as it gets. I connect these in a counter clockwise direction, and although purists will give you a hard time, I suggest a shuttle to the top of Mt. Elden, but only so that you can conserve the time and energy to ride it more than once. Otherwise, your a wuss. This ride is less than 10 miles (with a connection with Schultz Creek trail), and probably won't take 30 minutes to complete. It's fast. The 7 mile ride to the top on Mt Elden Lookout Road, however, will take most at least an hour, and uses a lot of energy. For most people, doing this ride twice in a day would be out of the question. If you look at a map, you will probably notice Upper Oldham trail which appears to cut a couple of miles from the ride up, but don't be fooled as I was! Although it may be possible to ride up this trail, most will find themselves toting their bikes up the seemingly endless, rocky, switchbacks. Resist the urge, just take the road. When you reach the top, look to the left. As the trees end, follow the wide car path that leads to a singletrack trail. This is where the fun begins. As you head north, you'll notice a pretty serious drop to your right, and you can see for miles to the East. It's mostly (one short climb) downhill from here. Pay attention and watch for other trail users.

Little Bear Trail
Once again, another trail as near perfection as I've ridden. While Sunset trail is almost entirely downhill, it is short. If you want to put in some mileage on the mountain, take a right on Little Bear about half-way through Sunset. There is a sign, you shouldn't miss it. Prepare to rip down the backside of the mountain through miles of forest switchbacks, gliding over rocky sections, whizzing through ponderosa pine. At the lowest point you'll come to an intersection, take the left. At this point the trail climbs and drops for a while, until you reach Schultz Creek Trail.

This is Catwalk, Sunset and Little bear strung together. Skip from 1:30-5:30 as bumps, bright sun and shadows make it a little difficult to watch. starting at 5:30 is Little Bear; pretty good stuff.

Rocky Ridge Trail
Some say I'm sick, but I enjoy really technical climbs. Thus, Rocky Ridge is one of my favorites. Most ride it downhill from Lookout road, but I like to take it uphill from the aforementioned parking area (south, more or less) to connect with Oldham, or return back down. This short (3 miles), low-slope single track is strewn with rocks and boulders, giving you a chance to really polish your trials skills. It is entirely ridable, so if you enjoy this sort of thing, don't be intimidated. Be careful though.

Lower Oldham Trail
This another fun trail. I like to connect it as the last trail in a Catwalk, Sunset, Little Bear, Schultz Creek, Rocky Ridge combination, ending in town. From Mt. Elden Lookout Road, It rolls and winds through the forest on hardpack single track and can be combined in many ways (as with any of these trails) with the other trails in the system to make some great rides. It is also a good get-acquainted trail for the area terrain.

Valley (Phoenix Area) Trails
Rocks, cacti and cholla. This area looks rugged and unforgiving, and is, well, rugged and unforgiving, but that doesn't mean the trails in this area are not fun to ride. Be careful and know the limits to your skill level, as there is little room for error on rocks and gravel, and inevitably there will be a jagged rock or a plant of a prickly nature waiting in your path of doom. Riding season is early fall to late spring, and summer for early risers or night riders. I don't advise riding in the summer between 9 AM and 8 PM, as the sun is unforgiving, and there is no shade in the desert. Flats will happen, pinch or puncture, so carry at least on extra tube and a pump, as well as the other usual tools, and most importantly, bring plenty of water and common sense, this is the desert after all!

South Mountain Park
This is supposedly the largest municipal park in the world, and has much to offer mountain bikers of all skill levels. Although there are many trail choices in this area, two in particular stand out as must-rides during one's visit to the Valley. As described, they begin at the Pima Canyon parking area, at the east end of the mountain. From I-10 take Elliot road west to 48th Street, turn right. When 48th appears to make a hard curve right, look for the South Mountain Park signs to the left. Turn left, and before you enter the neighborhood, take another left and enter the park. Parking is along the park road and at the end of this road.

Dessert Classic Trail  (South Mountain Park)
This is a great ride for all skill levels, as it wanders along the generally smooth southern foothills of the park. As an out and back ride from the east end of the park, it offers about 19 miles of fast roller coaster singletrack on varying terrain with about 1000' of elevation gain. The second half of the trail is a little more technical (rocky) than the first, which, coupled with the extra mileage, causes many to turn around at the water tank, which is about the halfway point. The trail head is on the left (south) side of the parking lot.

National Trail  (South Mountain Park)
One of my personal favorites, this one isn't for beginners. It's made up of rocks, steps and drops, connected by some of the best singletrack I've ridden. The most popular section is short (about 5 miles, one way), and as an out-and-back ride is quite a workout. The ride out is a climb, from about 1300' to about 2500'. If that's not enough, it's technical (but fun!). About the second time you think you can't take anymore, you reach the top of the pass. From here you can turn around or drop down to a parking area, which is a fun descent, but you've got to go back up; more punishment. The ride back is a hoot. It's all hop, drop, and swoop from here. Be careful! This trail can be dangerous, and on the weekends, strewn with hikers. Stay in control and be courteous to other users. To find the trail, follow the dirt road (closed to vehicles) at the west end of the parking area for about 1-1/4 miles. at the end of the road, look to your right for the signed trail head, and drop into the wash. When you reach an intersection, there is a decision to make. To the left is National, right is Mormon loop. They come back together about half-way, and Mormon is an easier climb, but National is more fun. Just be sure to come back on National. Another option is to take Desert Classic around the south side of the mountain, up Telegraph pass (nasty), then take the national trail back. This will give you an opportunity to ride more of the National trail. It can also be ridden in the opposite direction.

Phoenix Mountain Preserve 
Due to it's central location to the valley, this is one of the most popular areas in the valley for mountain biking, hiking, and yes, equestrian use. It can be accessed from HWY 51 via Northern Ave., or Shea Blvd via 40th St. There is a network of trails here, with many custom loop options, but Trail 100  is the main and longest trail. There is something for everyone, but the trails are predominately intermediate. Like most of the trails in the valley, these can also be rugged and dangerous. There are so many trail choices that I would suggest finding a map of the area with difficulty levels for those concerned. Maps can usually be found at local bike shops, and are easy to follow, as the trails in this system are well marked. 

Pima-Dynamite Trails

The rollercoaster-like trails beginning north-east of the intersection of Pima Road and Dynamite Blvd. in north Scottsdale offer some incredibly fun and scenic riding. There are so many trail choices and intersections that all I can say is, get a map! It is real easy to get lost out there. My favorite loop is a combination of "Dare A Sarah" (out) and "West Express" (return). What ever you do out there, be very careful.  This area is also very popular with the dirtbike and ATV crowd. Be courteous, it is much easier for you to stop and move out of the way than it is for them, and should you meet one of these machines on the trail the hard way, guess who wins - not you! Pay close attention and always keep an ear open for motors and an eye for dust trails in the distance. Difficulty levels range from beginner (stick to the jeep trails) to expert. The terrain closest to the parking area is mostly rolling hard dirt and granite with some sandy wash crossings. This is State Trust Land, and a permit is required (though I've never known anyone to have one...).

Pass Mountain Trail

Located in the Usery Mountain Recreation Area in north-east Mesa, This 8 mile trail is not for the weak of heart, lung, leg, or anything else for that matter. In fact, a sign at the trailhead says "not recommended for bicycles". None the less, in my opinion it is one of the best in the valley; it will exercise your endurance, strength, and skills, while rewarding you with spectacular scenery and butt-puckering fun. The trailhead can be reached by entering the park from Usery Pass Road (entry fee required), or by parking at the east end of McKellips Road (bring a couple of dollars), and entering from the Levee Trail. If you enter from McKellips, be mindful of the the "no parking" areas, they're serious! Turn east on the Levee Trail, then after about a half mile, turn north on a trail of which I cannot recall the name. Continue north until you come to a parking area, then continue north on pavement until you reach the trail head. You'll want to ride this trail in a clockwise direction. The trail starts off friendly enough, but quickly becomes a technical, yet entertaining climb (about 900') that will keep you in your granny gear. Once you approach the backside of the mountain the trail levels off a bit, winding and rolling along the north-east side of Pass Mountain, with incredible views to your left (and a nasty drop, so watch the trail, or take a moment to take it in). Once you reach the pass, it turns DOWN hill from here. Beware that the trail is composed of loose and jagged rocks waiting to pinch a tube or impale a body part, so be extra careful, and watch for hikers! This trail is very popular for hikers, and since few bikers make this loop, hikers aren't watching for you. At one point during the descent the trail will split, but regardless which direction you choose, it will converge again shortly. When the trail levels off it will begin to turn west again, then north, bringing you back to the trailhead. At this point, return to the levee trail system via pavement.

McDowell Mountain Park

McDowell Mountain Park is located north of Fountain Hills on McDowell Mountain Road. The trails in the park are mostly hard dirt, and intermediate in nature. There are no major steep climbs, and due to it's somewhat remote location and entrance fee, is typically not overcrowded compared to the municipal parks.

Competitive Loops   (McDowell Mountain Park)
There are 3 loops near the entrance (to the left) that are for competitive events and training. The "Long" loop is about 8 miles long, the "Sport" and "technical" loops are about 3 miles each, and are all fun intermediate rides. These can also be combined for custom loops.

Pemberton Trail   (McDowell Mountain Park)
Parking for this trail is at the end of Shallmo Drive. This trail is a nice long one, about 17 miles, and is an intermediate ride. The trail is generally smooth (except for a few places) and rolling, and quite scenic. I prefer to ride counter clockwise, saving my energy for the singletrack when the trail turns south, which, if you are in good enough shape to keep your momentum up, can be a blast.

Check back, much more to come...



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