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What are the most scenic rides in Tucson? Here are four “must do” rides!
Saguaro National Park is a 9.5 mile loop ride on near perfect blacktop pavement, offering road bikers an exhilarating and heart pounding experience. Cyclists from all over visit this park for the unrivaled desert scenery and landscape. This is one of the most beautiful road biking places in Arizona at sunset.
Click here for road biking scenic Saguaro National Park East.
LAT – use the Lemmon photo from the PF of BikeAZ.org on the scroller…
The world’s most popular road climbing ride is also Arizona’s greatest cycling scenic natural wonder. Amidst desert beauty, you will climb 29 miles to the top, cycling through four weather zones. The only thing preventing you from making it to the top will be your conditioning, the weather and how many times you pull out your camera. Lemmon
Click here for road biking scenic Mount Lemmon.
This stunning desert ride is as scenic as it is challenging. You will recognize much of the desert scenery from Hollywood old west films. (You can bike to Old Tucson where the films were produced.) Gates Pass/McCain Loop should be ridden early or very late and with caution. This is a safe ride during non-tourism season. However, this ride should be done with caution during tourism season.
Click here for road biking Saguaro West – Gates Pass/McCain Loop
Ranked by The Arizona’s Bicycle Association as the number three Arizona climb ride behind Lemmon and Graham, Madera is an Arizona “must ride” climb. Only 12 miles to the top, you will leave Green Valley desert beauty reaching over 5000 feet elevation while biking through alpine conditions. Madera is home of world class birding and you will frequently bike pass wild turkey as you finish off with a 14 percenter. Combine this ride by also climbing up to the top of nearby Mt. Hopkins – a 7.5 mile uphill ride with almost no traffic – and you will have had an incredible day. Time our ride so that your descent is at sunset and you will soon be returning.
Click here for road biking Madera Canyon.
For more Tucson cycling and route information, go to The Arizona Bicycle Association at bikeaz.org.
For more information on The Oro Valley/Tucson Loop Bike Path go to Friends of The Loop at tucsonloop.org. And more great information can be had at BikeTucson.com. Looking for a great rental road bike? Go to Tucson Bike Rentals.
Template part goes below that need to be changed as given advise
Pickup as early as 6AM *FREE Helmets *Repair Kits *Contactless!
What to know “at a glance”…..
While an Arizona Land Trust Permit is technically required for use of all trails in Arizona, no one abides by any of this. Locals do not bother with getting permits as the Land Trust people do not take the time to come out to trails to check. The Land Trust people we have met are too fat and lazy to get near a mountain bike trail in the first place. Most of them are fearful of sunburn and cactus, preferring to stay in their air conditioned Phoenix offices while collecting state paychecks and siphoning benefits from Arizona taxpayers.
HoneyBee Bee Canyon is the most scenic trail head in the state of Arizona. This land has been used in Hollywood westerns as a backdrop. The very land you will be biking on was inhabited by the Hohokam Indians an there are many petroglphs throughout. We highly recommend getting off the mountain bike at some point and walking the hiking trail portion where you can have time to observe these petroglphs.
Park at Methodist Church nearby and bike Rail X to HoneyBee!
HoneyBee Canyon trail is not a one way trail. However, we recommend riding the loop by going counter clockwise. You will not run into many people.
Rail X is a fun up and down entry point from the church.
It’s the Tucson desert so you may encounter snakes, bobcats, coyotes, javelina, etc. Mountain lions do inhabit the area and are rarely sighted. DO be careful of cows! If you are a fast rider it is easy to run into one. Cows graze this land too and are very docile and are used to human traffic. Plenty of cactus so where long sleeves. You’ll see a great variety of desert plants.
Hiking! World class Arizona hiking! You have two world class hiking trails starting with Catalina State Park and the HoneyBee Canyon Trail that is ONLY for hikers. Catalina State Park is also a mountain bike entry point for the Golder Upper 50 Year Trail. Tucson Bike Rentals offers delivery and pickup of Specialized mountain bikes there starting at just $75.
Bring your friends and they can walk or get a hybrid/road bike and bike the car-free 130 mile bike path that starts in Oro Valley! The greatest and most famous loop system in the USA is 1.5 miles from HoneyBee Canyon Trail. Tucson Bike Rentals rents and delivers Trek, Specialized and Giant hybrids, road bikes, tandems by appointment – and they do it contact free! You will never even smell anyone.
Catalina State Park offers great camping just two miles away. Holiday Inn Express, Fairfield Marriott, Worldmark Resort, Hilton El Conquistador are all great options that you can literally sleep and bike from. Tucson Bike Rentals offers free pickup and delivery of rental bikes to all Oro Valley hotels and resorts at no charge. However, the BEST way to stay and play is by camping at Catalina State Park. Catalina State Park is safe and beautiful.
Ideally wear long sleeves or any kind of arms sun protectors. This will protect you from the cactus. HoneyBee is a 3 water bottle ride 8 months out of the year. Bring plenty of food and sunscreen up BEFORE you arrive. This is a desert and being prepared is good. Always have your cell phone on you. Cell service is available from all major carriers. You do not have to worry about getting lost as you can tell where you are by just looking at The Catalinas.
Oro Valley Bicycle Rentals
Tucson Bike Rentals
Both rental places offer mountain bikes by appointment only as early as 6 AM with contact free pickup/delivery to the trail. Helmets, saddle repair kits, maps everything included. Rentals start at just $75 a day. Smoking good deal. Bikes come with tubeless tires. Slime tube mountain bike tires DO NOT work in the Arizona desert.
Oro Valley Bicycle located at Oracle and Vistoso Blvd.
They have gloves, Camelbacks and just about everything you need. They are across from Walgreens which is great if you need Gatorade or mental health medications.
We recommend parking at The Views Golf Club. They have the best restaurant in Oro Valley with the deepest beer and wine selection. And yes, the views of the Oro Valley Catalinas are incredible. You can park here and go to the locals entry Honey Bee Canyon Trail access point by just taking a right going west. Go west and look straight ahead for power lines and you will see a perfectly manicured trail head UNDER the power lines. (If you go past the power lines to Quiet Rain Drive, you went too far.) This access point has a no trespassing sign near it. Ignore it. All of the locals use this spot as the signs were declared illegal quite some time ago. Go straight, north UNDER the power lines and the trail starts 100 yards to the right at a telephone pole AFTER the cattle gate.
You can also park at the official HoneyBee Canyon Trail parking lot just a quarter of a mile west of the power lines. This is the parking entrance for the hiking trail. Take a right going west out of the parking lot and you will see the power lines to follow.
Or you can take a left out of the parking lot, staying in the right lane and go to Big Wash Trail head. There is parking there as well. Most people prefer the above locals entry point. BE SURE to use Google Maps as the entry point to this trail head is a little challenging to find. It is less than a mile on the right.
If you want to start out on the Rail X side of HoneyBee Canyon, Google The Vista de la Montana United Methodist Church and you can park in a dirt parking lot right at the beginning of their entry way. No parking on Sundays.
Parking near this popular Oro Valley mountain bike trail has had some controversy, as the local mountain bike club (Sonoran Desert Mountain Bikers) got involved and tried shutting down access to to two entry points – including the access point graciously allowed by the Methodist Church. They created an unnecessary trail entry point, spending over $15,000 of members monies that turned out to be a boondoggle. SDMB even tried to shut down the long time trail entrance at Quiet Rain Drive, helping put up a large fence to block the trail. They even went as far as trying to get police to ticket mountain bikers who did not use their trail. All of that failed and most people do not want their new entry point. This, along with other issues, led to IMBA out of Boulder to “part ways” with them. Local Tucson mountain bikers refer to it as a “defrocking”. And members have been leaving SDMB in droves.