From the South Mountain Preserve, the second largest municipal park in the world, and McDowell Mountain (27-miles northeast of Phoenix) on the edge of Southern Arizona’s urban hub—or PHX—to the world-renowned Black Canyon Trail, this Sonoran Desert tour is a major classic.
Our trip kicks off near Scottsdale, at the stunning northeast end of the Valley of the Sun. Riding local conservancy lands, the landscape opens onto a beautiful XC, or cross-country trail system; one that encompasses more than 40-miles of fast and flowy, mountain bike specific singletrack. The terrific abundance of flora and fauna throughout this area makes for a perfect introduction, or interpretation of the vibrant Arizona desert. The network crosses habitat for Javelina, deer, coyotes, plus a terrific variety of raptors and songbirds.
At South Mountain, we ride and experience the highlands of 2523-ft Maricopa Peak, then east toward Goat Hill, 2526-ft. Conversely, McDowell Mountain, a 21,099-acre regional park, lends a 40-mile ride alongside the eponymous 4000-ft mountain range. After interpreting these landscapes of great character, it comes as no surprise that Arizona has given us so many authentic if not strongly independent American personalities: from Cochise, Geronimo and The Apache Kid, Andy Devine to Barry Goldwater, The Udall family, Sandra Day O’Connor to John McCain, Pat Tillman and Waylon Jennings, Buck Owens and Duane Eddy, Ed Abbey to Katie Lee.
The following day we head to South Mountain. There we’re swept away by nothing less than world class riding, a fantastic expanse of singletrack trails totaling 50-plus miles. The last three days of our Phoenix tour mix and match the Black Canyon Trail. One has the option to add rides in the Sedona area, where classic Sonoran desert is given dramatic punctuation—if not raised relief—by piercing spires of powerful red rock.
Day 1-2: Meet in Phoenix. Ride buff singletrack in South Mountain and McDowell Mountain.
Day 3-5: Ride Black Canyon Trail System (see our 3-day Black Canyon Trail Mountain Bike Tour).