Why the Tucson, Arizona Area Has the Best Mountain Biking Trails
The Tucson and Southern Arizona areas include some of the greatest cycling and road biking destinations in the U.S., including Oro Valley and Green Valley. Wide streets, clean air, impeccable desert beauty, and year-round biking weather makes Arizona the greatest cycling destination in the state.
Tucson is such a great cycling spot, that professional cyclists from all over the world have trained (and even retired) here. If you’re looking for a biking vacation –or starting your relocation—Oro Valley and Northwest Tucson are the choice areas for road and mountain bikers.
Lying in Oro Valley are the scenic Catalina Mountains, complete with 80 miles of bike paths and lanes that connect to over 100 miles of shared use bike paths called The Tucson Loop.
“Whether you are a serious cyclist or just a casual biker,” says Bart Johnson, retired engineer and volunteer for The Arizona Bicycle Association, “the Oro Valley area is like no other place for road biking in Arizona.
Be prepared for the greatest road biking experience when you’re in the Tucson, Oro Valley, and Southern Arizona areas. But beware of the goat heads: this emblem Tucson cactus has caused many cyclists and road bikers flat tires and headaches. Because of this, all of our bike rentals come with flat-protected tires, including armadillo or gator skin tires.
Tucson, Arizona’s Best Hill Cycling Destinations
There are few places that offer more varied and challenging mountain cycling routes and road biking routes than Tucson. Mount Lemmon’s 26-mile climb at 4.3 % average grade is one of the most popular road cycling climbs in America.
Just an hour away, Mount Graham is the most difficult. A short drive from there takes you to the professional cycling training grounds at Green Valley’s Madera Canyon, Whipple Observatory, and Kitt Peak. You can even find Arizona’s greatest century ride meets cycling destination at the Amado to Sasabe, Arizona, right on the Mexican border.
Oro Valley and Tucson, Arizona–180 Miles of Bike Paths and Cycling Lanes
Arizona’s great cycling lanes and biking paths await with clean air and a much-needed break from traffic.
The Tucson Loop, the biking route that surrounds the Tucson area, extends for over 100 miles and connects to the beautiful Oro Valley and the Catalina Mountains. These natural cycling sites provide another 80 miles of biking routes and well-kept streets with cycling lanes.
If you don’t have a road bike, don’t fret. You can easily rent a bike from Tucson Bike Rentals and Tours. Or if you’re looking for a personalized experience of the greatest Arizona cycling destination, you can also hire one of our personal tour guides to give you a custom half-day bike tour including road-biking instructions. Our turs give an awesome look to rides that only us, locals, know about.
Discover the off-beat path and road bike Arizona. Call us today at 520-260-8293.
A Quick Guide to Arizona’s Most Scenic Road Bike Rides:
- Saguaro National Park
- Mount Lemmon
- Saguaro West – Gates Pass/McCain Loop
- Madera Canyon – Green Valley
- Picture Rocks Bike Ride
- Amado to Arivaca to Sasabe Century Ride
Oro Valley’s Best Beginner Road Biking Rides
Just North of Tucson, Oro Valley is the best place in Arizona for cycling aficionados of any level to enjoy. There are 79 miles of routes, paths, and signed routes. You can bike without hardly experiencing any traffic. The 40-miler of El Tour de Tucson starts in Oro Valley, a clean, upscale community next to the Catalina Mountains and a premier American cycling destination. Oro Valley is the best area in Tucson – and Arizona for that matter – to start a biking vacation.
- Cycling Tucson’s Shared Loop Bike Path (Connects to Oro Valley)
- Oro Valley’s Saddlebrooke Resort: Lots of Shoulder
- Road Bike The Tucson Loop!
The Tucson Loop shared-use bike path puts Tucson cycling in a class by itself with over 100 miles of paved cycling routes and trails that are wonderful for riders of all levels. Think you got the mojo? Try out the Loop and see if you can make it all the way to the valley. Our bike paths connect to Oro Valley and 80 more miles of paved cycling routes and roads with biking lanes. Rent a bike from us to get rolling! Find out more.
Great Arizona Climbing Rides: From Mount Lemmon to Madera, Tucson Is Best
- Mount Lemmon – Arizona’s Best Climbing Ride
- Mount Graham – Arizona’s Most Challenging Ride
- Whipple/Hopkins Observatory – 24 Kilometers, Brutal, Challenging, Scenic
- Kitt Peak – Tucson – Short, Steep, Intense
- Madera Canyon – Green Valley – Climb to 5200 feet
- Amado to Arivaca to Sasabe – 48 or 98 miles – Intense
- Box Canyon (Madera Canyon) Grab a mountain/cyclocross bike
Tucson’s Most Dangerous Routes: Cycling Rides We Do Not Like
- Old Sonoita Highway Ride – This is often a favorite of national bike tours who stroll into our town. You will ride white-knuckled with no edge and many blind spots. Check out our video to learn why this is an accident lawyer’s dream ride.
- Gates Pass McCain Loop Bike Ride or “The Tuesday Group Ride” – We recommend this for experienced riders only. For almost the entire cycling route, cyclists ride without an edge and face blind spots going up Gates Pass. We do like this ride as an early morning biking experience during the non-tourist and low-traffic season.
- Oracle Road to Catalina – The danger in this ride does not pose a severe threat, but it is very annoying. Cyclists suffer lots of flats here. This crowded Oro Valley highway cycling route offers a lot of shoulder, littered with shards of steel and glass. Oro Valley may be the best location for cycling rides in all of Tucson, but Oracle Road is a spot we avoid. If you’re brave enough to venture into this biking route, make sure to have flat-protection tires.
- El Tour de Tucson Bike Route – This cycling route is an awesome ride DURING the spectacular El Tour de Tucson event, when all the roads are all closed. However, this biking route puts cyclists in the path of intense city traffic. There are much better century rides to be had in Tucson. A good alternative is the Amado to Arivaca to Sasabe Century Ride, which features a really intense climb and a fun ride to the Mexican border.
- Marsh Station Road Bike Ride – Tucson/Vail – Avoid this cycling route altogether. This biking road has not been maintained in years and has glaring potholes. It is a great place to lose your fillings, though.
Tucson, Arizona Road Cycling Routes “At A Glance”
- Saguaro National Park East – East Tucson, Arizona – This is a “must-do” Tucson gem. The Saguaro National Park offers a 9.5-mile loop ride with plenty of climbing and thrills. The pavement will make you feel like you are riding a bike on a race track. This is perhaps the purest sightseeing ride in all of Tucson. When you finish this ride, consider adding more miles by road biking over to the Colossal Cave Pistol Hill route.
- Cody Loop – Oracle, Arizona
- Colossal Cave Pistol Hill Bike Ride – Park at Saguaro National Park East and ride to Colossal Cave.
- El Tour de Tucson Bike Route – Really, only do this during the event.
- Gates Pass McCain Loop Bike Ride or “The Tuesday Group Ride” – Fun and challenging, this biking ride is both scenic and intense. There is little edge throughout most of this ride.
- Kitt Peak Road Bike Ride – Wow! A must for any real cycling fans. One of Arizona’s top five road biking climb rides.
- Madera Canyon Bike Ride – One of Arizona’s top four climbing rides. Start at La Posada Java on Continental in Green Valley and bike 12 miles to the top – 5200 feet. Enjoy a 14 percent climb on the final stretch.
- Marsh Station Road Bike Ride – Too many people get themselves in trouble with this service road ride – poorly maintained and too many potholes. Scenery is cool, but not worth the trouble.
- Mount Graham Hill Climb – Safford, Arizona – Just an hour away from Tucson, this biking route is the single most challenging and difficult road bike climb ride in Arizona. It is also one of the top challenging rides in the USA.
- Old Sonoita Highway Ride – Short, peaceful ride. But make sure to NOT take Highway 83 to Sonoita.
- Pantano River Park – Good biking route for beginners and casual cyclists.
- Picture Rocks Bike Ride – Scenic route for an early morning cycling ride. Cyclists do not get much of an edge on this route.
- Sabino Canyon Biking – You can only road bike this trail at certain times of the day, but it is steep, short, scenic, and one Tucson’s best fun sightseeing biking adventures.
- Saddlebrooke Bike Ride – This is a favorite of casual bikers and beginners who want wide shoulders and peaceful riding. Many of our clients start/stay in Oro Valley and bike North to Saddlebrooke.
- Saguaro National Park Biking – Saguaro National Park’s route connects to Gates Pass and Picture Rockes. This incredibly scenic ride also has plenty of climbing, with no edge.
- Shootout Group Bike Ride – This is a group ride for serious cycling semi-pros, amateurs, and professionals.
- The Loop – River Bike Path – The Tucson Loop offers over 100 miles of incredible shared use bike path. This famous Loop route is one of the many hallmarks that make Tucson, Arizona the greatest cycling destination on earth.
- Tucson to Sonoita Bike Ride – Don’t do this route. National cycling tour companies foolishly send their clients out on this death ride.