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“Some rocky riding through part of the Tucson Mountains.”
— Hillary Mathis on Jan 26, 2014
TUCSON, Arizona – Mountain Biking – Starr Pass is one of the signature and most popular rides in all of Tucson. Starr Pass is the Eastern part of the Tucson Mountain Park Trails and is an incredible load of fun. This is a popular ride as it offers some technical challenge, incredible scenery that forces you to make some quick decisions and will give a great test for the intermediate mountain biker. There a few major, craggy drops that can hand you your tail.
“This is one of the most popular intermediate to advanced trails in all of Tucson. The scenery is spectacular. This trail is only miles away from Old Tucson where some of the great fil legends walked. Rocky, craggy….this trail has a lot of challenges and is a Tucson, Arizona mountain biking favorite.”
That being said there are lots of good single track and many different trails to explore. Mountain bikers can enjoy almost every level of riding. The general terrain is rocky with the occasional wash to navigate through. There are a few small sustained climbs and a few technical climbs but most of the area is intermediate and can be handled by most novice riders with a bit of experience. Starr Pass is right out by the Desert Museum and very close to Old Tucson. Bike Starr Pass Trailhead and you will be following on the trails of some of Hollywood’s great actors like Lorne Greene, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and more.
If you park at the Richard Gesner Trailhead side of Starr Pass, you can always end your ride and have lunch or dinner at the restaurant that overlooks their incredible golf course.
If you enjoy Starr Pass, you will really enjoy the Sweetater Preserve.
This particular area should not be used for absolute beginners, as you’ll be doing enough walking to reduce your fun factor. If you’re looking for great beginner-trails in this area, head on over Starr Pass to the rest ofTucson Mountain Park. You really can’t get lost in Starr Pass and will probably have a great time exploring. Take plenty of water because none is available.
Rock Wren, Yetman and Starr Pass Trails: These are the major trails that run through the Starr Pass area. The most popular “loop” is to park at the main Richard Genser and take Rock Wren to the 4-way sign (see photo), then hang a left on Yetman, hit Starr Pass, and then loop it back around.
Stone House Trail: It is named as such because of an old, roofless stone house that was built in the early 1900’s. Stone House is one of the most technical trails, mainly because of the initial, rocky climb from the Yetman intersection up over the pass. Many take Stone House out to Yetman (you will be slogging through a long wash!) and then over to the Bowen (Resort Trail) trail, which dumps you out next to the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort. Then just rip up the road back to the trailhead!
Resort Trail (officially Bowen) and Hidden Canyon: These two are quite technical and rocky, with Hidden Canyon especially so. Watch for hikers coming from the resort when you’re riding these trails.
Explorer Trail: The newest edition to the Starr Pass trail system and not found on most maps, Explorer is a fantastic, technical, and lung-busting climb over Cat Mountain. You can either hang a left and swing back around to 36th Street Trail, or if it didn’t completely destroy your lungs and legs, continue on until you pass under Ajo Way and enjoy the Robles Trail System. Right at the Robles culvert, Explorer continues off East to the trailhead near La Cholla Boulevard.
36th Street Trail: Coming from the slightly sketchy 36th Street Trailhead (fine during the day, don’t park here at night) 36th is a fun, rolling Intermediate level trail that leads you deeper into the Starr Pass system.
Acupuncture Trail: Not found on any maps, it is so named because of the narrow singletrack lined by many cactus. Technically it is beginner-friendly and fun, though with a continual gradual gain in elevation. It breaks off just south of an open area near the Starr Pass/Yetman intersection. You can also access theTucson Mountain Park trails over Golden Gate Trail from here. Best if you’re with someone who knows the area, as it’s easy to get confused with the plethora of social trails in this area.
Krein Trail: A technical, and lung-busting out-and-back with a great vista. It is not marked, but is easy to spot from a wide open area after your descent from the Starr Pass/Yetman intersection climb. Again, best if it’s pointed out to you by a local.
There are quite a few other unnamed and unmarked trails, with varying degrees of difficulty. Explore and have fun!
Directions to the Richard Genser Main Lot: From I-10 head west on Saint Mary’s. After Silverbell the road name changes to Anklam and continue west until you reach Players Club Dr. Turn left and head to four-way stop with Starr Pass Blvd, then turn left. Make first right onto Clearwell Rd. (dirt road) take till it ends at theRichard Genser Starr Pass parking lot.
Directions to TMP 36st Trailhead: From I-10 head west on 22nd St. to Mission Rd. turn left. Head south on Mission to 36th St. turn right. Head west on 36st St. until it dead ends at the 36th Street parking lot trailhead. Beware that this parking lot can get a bit “sketchy” after dark. If you’re planning on riding at night, use an alternate trailhead.
Directions to the Camino de Oeste Trailhead: Take Speedway Boulevard west of I-10 past Silverbell and Greasewood. You’ll drive another minute or so, then turn left (south) on Camino de Oeste. The road will turn to dirt, and soon after you’ll see the parking area trailhead on your right (west). Park, and ride through the wash, where the trail picks up on the west side of the wash.