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Trail 396 mountain bike trail in Prescott, Arizona

Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Northern Arizona, Trail 396 Prescott, AZ | 0 comments

Trail 396 mountain bike trail in Prescott, Arizona

MILES:  10

DIFFICULTY:  Easy with moderate climbing in a few spots

If you are looking for that perfect mountain bike trail to get out of the Phoenix heat, load up the bike and head out to Prescott, Arizona.  Prescott is about 90 minutes out of Phoenix and has some of the nicest mountain bike trails in the State with single track, lake views, cool weather and pine trees. About 6 miles outside of Prescott on the Senator Highway, about a quarter mile just past the entrance to Goldwater Lake, you will see a small parking lot to your left.  Park here, cross the road and start out on the famous Trail 396.  This is a great trail for experienced and non-experienced riders that offers smooth single track through the pines, with several spots to stop and enjoy the scenic surroundings of pine trees, Goldwater Lake and Lower Goldwater Lake that you can only get to from the trail.

Don’t let the short distance fool you (you can always do it twice).  The trail can get a bit narrow in a few spots, and after about the first mile you will start to do some climbing, but the trail is perfect for new and intermediate riders.  The trail is only about 3.5 miles from the start of Senator Highway, but you can continue on, once you hit the campground on the other site.  The first mile and a half are pretty smooth and non-technical, but the last 2 miles will get your heart pumping with some pretty good climbs that even an experienced rider will appreciate.  After about 2 miles from the Senator Highway you will find a small little pond, waterfall and meadow, which is a great place to stop and take a break.  Look out for other riders, as the trail can get pretty busy on weekends, but when the trail is busy on weekends and you still see the locals out there, you know there is a good reason for it, and there is….This trail is Awesome… One of the best you will find out here.

After a good day on the trail, or two or three different laps on the trail, historic Prescott offers great food and drinks at the historic town square and Whiskey Row.

 

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Mountain Bike Trails – Fountain Hills – Pemberton Competitive Tracks

Posted by on Apr 16, 2012 in Arizona (Phoenix Area), Pemberton | 0 comments

Mountain Bike Trails – Fountain Hills – Pemberton Competitive Tracks

Difficulty:  Easy to Technical (great for all skills)

Distance:  Three Loops (Sport Loop – 3 miles, Technical Loop – 4 miles, and Long Loop – 8 miles) 

Every time I go out to Fountain Hills to do some mountain biking on Pemberton Trail, I discover new variations and trails.  I have always heard how good the competitive loop trails are out at Pemberton, but how can I try something new, when the trails I have come to know and love are so great!  Well, due to time constraints today, I was forced to go for a shorter trail, so it seemed the perfect day to try these out.  Oh, have I been missing out!  These trails are fantastic and I can see why so many people rave about them!  I started out on the sport loop, after the park ranger told me that this is absolutely the best trail out at Pemberton.  I now can’t say I disagree.  It is not too challenging, and it is short (only 3 miles), but I don’t know that I can disagree with him, and this could very well be the best three miles of trail in the park!

After checking out the sport loop, we headed over to the long loop (8 miles).  This is another fantastic trail with a good mix of fast single track, beautiful scenery of the Mcdowell Mountains, and a few good climbs and drops (nothing too technical).   There are a couple spots that can scare off a newbie, and one of the riders while on the trail proceeded to tell us that he was airlifted off of the trail last year after hitting some soft soil on a descent.  Don’t let it scare you, as you will be disappointed after riding this trail that you did not do it sooner (that’s how I felt anyway).  He went on to say after this that he lives in Fountain Hills and as soon as his collar bone healed, this was the first place he brought the bike back out to.  I can see why people love living in Fountain Hills.  The houses and real estate is beautiful with awesome scenic views.

I can now officially say that my new favorite trails in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills are the competitive tracks.  The best area in the state for mountain biking just got better, but tons of other riders already know this.

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Top Mountain Bike Trail in Fountain Hills

Posted by on Mar 25, 2012 in Pemberton | 0 comments

Top Mountain Bike Trail in Fountain Hills

MILES:  13

DIFFICULTY:  Easy with a few tricky spots

Just when I thought mountain biking in Scottsdale and Fountain Hills could not get any better, we discovered this great trail head that connects to Pemberton Bike trail system.  From Scottsdale, take Shea out to Fountain Hills and then head north on Palisades Road for about four or five miles until you see the signs for the Sonoran Trail Head.  Follow the road from the parking lot through the guard gate and pass a few incredible homes and LUXURY FOUNTAIN HILLS REAL ESTATE.

This trail head is a hidden gem for mountain bikers.  The facilities are probably the nicest of any trail head I have ever been to, and hardly anyone knows about it.  The parking lot is usually half empty.  From the trail head, just follow the signs for about a half mile to the entrance to Mcdowell Mountain Regional Park system.  Pay your $2 to help keep the trails open to all and maintain them and then head back into the trail and connect to Dixie Mine.  This trail is less traveled than the other main trails in the Pemberton Park, and you can connect to the rest of Pemberton with some killer views and a few great climbs and descents.  Follow Dixie Mine for a couple miles and then you will see the actual Dixie Mine.  Pretty cool little detour if time permits, but then connect back from Dixie Mine to Pemberton.  Today we took Pemberton West back into Coach Whip and then Coach Whip back to Dixie Mine.  Take a right at the Pemberton junction to add anywhere from another 8 to 12 miles of awesome fast single track.

From up at the top of Coach Whip you can take several detours up and over the Windgate Pass, or just connect to make it a great little loop back to Dixie Mine.  These are the best trails in the state and the best part about it (other than the fast single track or incredible views) is that you can take so many variations of this trail that you basically can ride it 20 times without taking the same path twice.


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Scottsdale Sonoran Preserve Desert Park and Windgate Trail

Posted by on Feb 5, 2012 in Windgate Trail Center | 1 comment

Scottsdale Sonoran Preserve Desert Park and Windgate Trail

Miles:  12

Difficulty:  Easy to Moderate

Looking for an amazing trail out on the mountain bike?  Start here!  Begin the trail at the Mcdowell Mountain Sonoran Preserve Windgate Trail center and from here take your choice on getting up the hill.  I started along Desert Park Trail in the video below and rode out through DC Ranch and Silverleaf to see some of the priciest real estate for sale in North Scottsdale.  Follow Desert Park through some flat and scenic trails (million dollar views and houses surround you) and you will go under the road and end up at the park with a nice lake if you want to take a quick  pit stop.  Continue up Desert Park Trail (under the next bridge) and the start heading up the Mcdowell Mountains.  You will stay on this gradual climb for about 3.5 more miles until you eventually get to the connection to Windgate Trail.  From here, check out some awesome views of North Scottsdale.  Continue up the trail to Inspiration Point or up to Windgate Pass to get up and over the mountain and connect over to Pemberton mountain bike trail in Fountain Hills if you are feeling adventurous and full of energy (you will need it to get back over the mountain remember).  Beware – do this on a weekend and you are playing “Frogger” the entire way back down to the Windgate Trail Head.

From Windgate Pass saddle to Inspiration point it starts getting rocky and steep so get your granny gear ready.  If you don’t feel like making the rock climb, keep going on Windgate Trail and connect back over to the trail center and for some extra distance, keep going around Windgage trail for about 2 miles or so and you will eventually see a sign that will connect over to Paradise Trail.  You can take Paradise Trail over to Taliesen and Lost Dog if you are looking for extra mileage and can’t get your fix for rock climbing.

 

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Mountain Biking in Fountain Hills with some awesome scenery

Posted by on Jan 31, 2012 in Pemberton | 1 comment

Mountain Biking in Fountain Hills with some awesome scenery

MILES:  15

Difficulty:  Easy to Medium

Here is a great trail in the beautiful city of Fountain Hills, Arizona.  If you haven’t taken the mountain bike out to Pemberton (home to many races throughout the year such as the dawn to dusk), you are missing out.  This is one of the best trails you will every find, with different technical skills across all levels of ability.

The Pemberton trail is 15.2 miles from start to finish but the variation in the map below is my favorite way to ride it with some sweet single track sections.  Start out on Pemberton trail in the normal direction (south) and then head West on Granite Trail, until you hit Bluff Trail, then take Bluff Trail and join Pemberton after about four miles.  This is smooth and fast with some gradual easy climbing.  Once you hit Pemberton head left (South) and connect to Coach Whip.  This is a great trail that will take you all the way over to Windmill and Windgate Pass if you are feeling daring, and up to the saddle with a sweet view of the entire city.  In the trail below, I took Coach Whip over to Dixie Mine and then connected back to Pemberton.  Coach Whip and Dixie Mine give you some great climbs with some fast and rocky down hill sections.  The rocks can be a bit much for some, but trust me….it’s worth it.

This trail will take you back down to Pemberton Trail, and then back down to where it all started.  Taking the trail this time of year (January-March) will give you some of the best scenery anywhere down here in Phoenix, Scottsdale or Fountain Hills, with great views of boulders, saguaro’s, wild flowers and fast single track.

If you finish Pemberton and feel like adding on some distance, try to get over to the competitive tracks at the entrance to the park.  There are several different trails at the competitive loops with “Easy”, “Mid-Level” or “Difficult”  levels of technical skills required.

 

 

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The Best Mountain Bike Trail in Phoenix – Pemberton, Coach Whip, Bluff & Dixie Mine

Posted by on Jan 9, 2012 in Pemberton | 2 comments

The Best Mountain Bike Trail in Phoenix – Pemberton, Coach Whip, Bluff & Dixie Mine

Level of Difficulty:  Easy – with a few moderate climbs

Miles –  18.5

This could very well be the best mountain bike trail in the entire Phoenix area.  Drive out through Fountain Hills and head North on Mcdowell Mountain Road until you see the McDowell Mountain Preserve.  Pay your $6 at the gate (yes, it is worth it) and head back to the trail head parking, which is about 3 0r 4 miles past the gate.  Once you park head South on the the Pemberton trail until you run into Granite Trail, then head North on Granite Trail for about 10 minutes until you run into the intersection for Bluff Trail.  Turn onto Bluff Trail, then continue to to head North for a total of about 4 miles from the parking lot and there connect with Pemberton Trail again, and head Left (South).  The views are spectacular out here with large Saguaro Cacti (which FYI can only be seen in the Sonoran Desert) and large boulder rock gardens.  After heading left on Pemberton (which is south), you will stay on this past Knob Rock all the way to Coach Whip.  FYI – Knob Rock is a great little detour off of the Pemberton trail back into the boulder looking mountain that you can see just off the trail.  You can stay on Knob Rock for a short while and actually connect to the Tom’s Thumb Parking lot after going through a horse gate connecting the McDowell Mountain County preserve.

So, now take a right on Coach Whip and get ready for some gradual climbing (at least for a while before it gets pretty steep back there).  Stay on Coach Whip and get some of the best views anywhere in the Phoenix area and head on up to the lookout (where Coach Whip connects with Windmill before heading up to Windgate Pass and up and over the mountain over to the Windgate City Preserve.  Make sure you are ready for some serious climbing if you are going to attempt this (which is the easiest of the overpasses) or Bell or Sunrise for some steeper climbs up to the saddle.

Coach Whip continues for about another mile through prickly pear cactus and connects over with Dixie Mine.  Take a right and head back down to Pemberton (fast and rocky – but fun!) and when connecting to Pemberton, take a left and head back to the Bluff trail for some extremely fast and furious single track back down to the parking lot.  You won’t regret it!

 

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Desert Classic Trail – South Mountain

Posted by on Jan 5, 2012 in Desert Classic | 0 comments

Desert Classic Trail – South Mountain

Difficulty:  Easy (with some moderate spots)

Miles:  17

Desert Classic Trail (otherwise known as DC by the locals) is a great trail for all levels.  Even though the trail is rated by most guides as “Easy”, don’t let that deter you from taking this great ride (or fool you about how easy it is).  It is about 8.5 miles each way (out and back) and the trail does get a bit technical around mile number 6.  The trail starts out very smooth and fast and you can burn great time through the first six miles or so.  About half way through the trail, stop at the water towers, get a quick drink and get ready from some rocks.  The next two miles is still fast, but then gets into a few moderate technical areas.  ”Hike a Bike” if you have to, but continue on because it gets easier after about two miles of this.

The trail comes out over a ridge and will end up at the helipad at the base of the mountain where the TV Towers are located.  If you have some extra time, it is fun to watch people come blazing down National Trail / Telegraph Pass for some truly amazing technical drops (including the famous “Waterfall Rock Ledge”, but that is for another day).

The trail is pretty flat, but will get your heart pumping a few times and grasping for air.  There are some great views of Ahwatukee and Mountain Park Ranch housing communities back there with some amazing preserve view lots.

By the way, South Mountain Park is the largest municipal park in the country with over 16,000 acres of public trust land and over 51 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horse back riding.  Phoenix Mountain Preserves are open unobstructed areas, so it is possible to see some wildlife out there (in fact you can count on it), yes even including the rare snake!  According to the City of Phoenix website, more than three million people per year visit the park, so be prepared to play a little “Frogger” on your mountain bike with the hikers, and stay friendly so we bikers can keep biking out there.

 

 

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