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For years now I’ve been hearing and reading some good stories about the Tucson Trails, and although I had tried a couple of times to fit Tucson into my list of destinations, it never panned out.. until this time.

While on one of the Moab Trails in October, I got talking with two fellow Mountain Bikers [ Doug & Bill ] They were a wealth of information about Mountain Biking Trails throughout the USA, which also included the Tucson Trails.

As luck has it, when I arrived in Tucson I unknowingly set up base at the “Desert Trails RV Park” just 3 sites down from Doug who I had met in Moab, and both he an Bill were staying there, this meant I was gonna get the full trail intel incl. free guides.

I spent 4 weeks on the Tucson trails. and I just touched the surface of what Tuscon has to offer. I will definitely be back soon to ride all the trails I missed this time round..

 

 

My Experience

 

Riding the Tucson Trails for the first time was a great experience, it’s pretty daunting looking up at 40+ ft. cacti, thinking just ONE thing.. “Shit I hope I won’t be huggin’ one of them” .. The brain however must switch off, ‘cos minutes later I was dodging the cacti like I had a death wish.

I was lucky in Tucson, I had 2 well seasoned guides [ Doug & Bill ] that kindly showed me a handful of trails,’cos although the trails great, and clear, they are not very well marked and believe me there are plenty of places one can go wrong, and the Tucson dessert is not a friendly place to get lost. Your safest bet is to, just like me [ if just like me you are lucky ] make use of a guide, followed by a really good map, a shit load of navigation skills, and spare tubes!!. I used more tubes in the 4 weeks in Tucson, than in all the 5 previous years!. I used a “Tuffy” liner front and back, and slime tubes, and still had to take out a mortgage to finance my tubes.. and don’t think if you shred on “Tubeless” you are off the hook, ‘cos you ain’t!
I must say however, that the “Tuffy’ liners really did improve things, and I would highly recommend them in Tucson.

Although there were no really high trails, or at least not the ones I did, this doesn’t mean there are no strenuous climbs, and manic downhill sections, ‘cos there are lots of them, what I call short, brutal & fun.

One of my favorite trails was the pretty technical and very demanding “Brown Mountain” Trail.. don’t be fooled just because it’s just under 5 miles, ‘cos at some point you will curse this trail. I attempted Brown Mountain 5 times, the first 2 times I cleared without any problems apart from destroying my lungs!. However the last three times I ended up walking down, completely defeated or should I say deflated, cos three blowouts in three attempts, because of this Brown Mountain became together with the Porcupine Trail in Moab my most expensive rides, and it kicked my arse!
The final downhill section is pretty sick, and it was actually the first time I opted for semi-full body protection, and boy am i glad I did. The trail consists of of razor sharp rocks, and a lot of very scary looking cacti. This is definitely not a trail where you wanna lose your cool.

Another trail I really enjoyed was the Explorer Trail, another short but brutal trail. This is an “out & back” with a lot of climbing, a pretty technical section and of course a lot of downhill. This downhill is not as steep as the Brown Mountain section, however is is much longer, and because it is not as steep, you are more inclined to open up, and that can be very dangerous. Stay on your steed on this trail, and you will enjoy every minute of it.

The Robles Trail system offers miles and miles of fantastic trails, and it doesn’t matter how you do them, clockwise or counter clockwise, they are great both directions. Some moderate climbs, a handful of technical spots and some really fast flowing runs make the Robles System a MUST!

Another must do fantastic out and back is the Pistol Hill to Three Bridges Trail. This section is about 17 miles of the 800 mile Arizona Trail. There is quite a bit of moderate climbing on this trail, and eventually it physically catches up with you.. I was doing fine until about mile 12, and then my legs and lungs started giving up, and the last climb was very demanding. The really nice thing about this trail, is that it has one of the best finishes you can imagine.. The last 1.5 miles is a manic “Run Rabbit Run” a perfect finish to an excellent trail.

Conclusion

Tucson is a fantastic MTB Destination, although it is definitely not a summer destination, it could just be the best winter destination the USA has to offer. I can only speak for December and January, but the weather and trail conditions were perfect. I was pleasantly surprised at how quite the trails actually were, even during the weekend.

As I mentioned, I was in Tucson for a whole month, and I still just touched the surface of the Tucson trails. I will definitely head back to Tucson next winter, and will definitely explore all the trails I did not get to ride.

Any serious Mountain Biker looking to do some serious Mountain Biking in the winter months should definitely put Tucson on top of the list.

 

My Tucson Trails Rating : 8 / 10

 

Doug & BillI would like to thank Doug & Bill for the the time to show me some fantastic trails Tuscon has to offer. Without their guidance and trail intel I would have probably spent more time researching and less time shreddin’.

I’m sure our paths will meet again on a trail somewhere… Kudo’s to you both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hurkey Creek Epic

May Valley & Hurkey Creek

 

My first attempt to ride the “24 hour loop” went a bit pear shaped, and I missed the turn off to Rage through the Sage and Tunnel of Love.  While getting my steed fixed up, I got a lot of useful trail intel from the shop owner. The trails he marked for me on a very basic map were some local secrets, and there is no way I would have been able to ride them without this inside intel. The good thing was, I managed to map a loop that included the Rage through the Sage and Tunnel of Love..

I must say though, there was one thing that made me (almost) hate these trails….

 

Hurkey Creek Trails Map
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Trail Stats & Information

 

Nearby Town : Idyllwild
Length: 17.29 miles
Trail Type: Loops
Skill Level: [what the books say] no info
Skill Level: [My Opinion] Technically easy to moderate. Physically moderate.
Duration
: My time was 04:25:15
Elev Gain
: 2,181 feet
Top Elev : 5,435 feet
Min. Elev : 4,378 feet
 

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Book Description

I could not find any Mtb Trail books describing the Hurkey Creek Trails, so the below descriptions are based on my personal experience :
>> The Hurkey Creek Trails just a few miles from Idyllwild offer some fantastic and scenic trails. Some of the trails are pretty popular, and are used in the 24 Hour Race held in the Spring. Trails such as Johnson Meadow, Exfoliator, Rage through the Sage and Tunnel of Love are some of the must do rides in this area.
May Valley offers some fantastic loop trails that can easily be combined. To get the most out of these trails you will really need a local to show you, or some local advice on which trails to take and HOW to ride them, for example the Lower South Ridge must be done counter clock, giving you an excellent downhill experience, rather than a hike up.
Visit the Hub bike shop, and get a map and  some advice before heading out.
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My Experience

Luckily for me, I had done a section of this ride a couple of days previous, so I had a much better grasp of the layout, I also had a slightly better map and a head full of trail info.
Again I set out early, I was on the trails at 6 am. the first 45 min. was on trails I had done before, so that went pretty smooth. Then onto the un-mapped “Meadow Trail” a sweet short trail that connected me to the Murkwood Trail. From here it was a gradual climb that took me to the Lower South Ridge Trail. From here it was a funtastic and pretty technical downhill to Coldwater Trail.  The Coldwater Trail is a moderate climb, it coud be an easy climb, seeing as it is pretty gradual however the sandy singletrack makes it some what demanding. You then continue pass the Murkwood Trail where you were more than an hour ago. When you hit the fire road, make a left, and immediately look for a well hidden singletrack on the RIGHT hand side, this will connect you to the Second Brother, that will then connect you to Cahuilla Cutoff. The Cahuilla Cutoff is also a really nice fast trail with a few “no warning” tech spots, so be careful. At the end of this trail, you cross a fire road and continue straight onto the “Coffee Pot” … Why is it called the Coffee Pot?.. ride it and you will know where the name came from.
The Coffee Pot ends at the beginning of the Exfoliator. I described this trail in my previous review, and all I can say is that the second time on this trail was just as mental as the first.. A MUST!!
This time I took the right left hand turn and crossed the creek and started the short but demanding climb to the top of Rage through the Sage.
Rage through the Sage is another fantastic and fast roller coaster ride,  not highly technical, but because of the potential speed you can reach, it’s not a trail to hesitate on which line you are gonna choose. If you choose the wrong line, my advice is to stick with it and hope for the best, ‘cos chances are you will bite the “Sage” if you try and change.
The Tunnel of Love is also a fantastic trail, a lot like the Exfoliator,  fast and sweet… Very Sweet!

 

Conclusion
I would say that 98% of the trails I did here are on singletrack, and sweet singletrack at that!. This ride is both technically and physically moderate, but there are one or two sections that are demanding . Lower South Ridge can even be pretty dangerous if things turn sour on certain sections. ( I actually endo’d on this section, and miraculously landed on my feet)
Exfoliator, Rage through the Sage and Tunnel of Love  are pretty well known trails, and once you’ve experienced them, you know why they are well known.
These trails are fantastic, but there was one thing that really put a damper on things.. Horse flies!!.. I’m not talking 2 or 3, I’m talking swarms!. I could not stop for 20 seconds to study my map without being attacked.
I mentioned this to some of the locals, and they said that it was really bad for some reason, and they confinced me that it is never this bad.

 

Other Info:

Traffic on Trail : I had all the trails to myself, I did not see anyone.
Wild Life : A few dear along the Johnson Meadow section
Scenery : Great scenery
Getting There : Click HERE for directions from Idyllwild
Other : Take sun lotion and plenty of bug spray, the horse flies are terrible

 

My Trail Rating : 8 / 10


 

The Hub Cyclery IdyllwildThe Hurkey Creek and May Valley Trails review is proudly sponsored by :

The Hub Cyclery Idyllwild.

Don’t even consider riding the Hurkey Creek Trails before paying a visit to The Hub Cyclery. This is not your average Cycle Shop, the owners themselves are not just avid mountain bikers, they also build the popular Siren Mountain Bikes. The Hub Cyclery is well stocked with everything you and your bike will need on the trails, and a lot more. When you buy a Trails Map at The Hub, it comes with some free and unmissable advice and recommendations.

For more info please visit : www.hubcyclery.com

 


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