9 Best Mountain Biking Trails in Arizona

Arizona has always been a famous county for mountain biking and adventures. The scenes of the county are beautiful, but the trails present are very challenging. They are rated for experienced riders. But this does not stop beginners from trying the courses in the area.

Trails in Sedona, Arizona, are more popular for mountain biking. They are a melting point for hikers and bike-packers. We will determine which routes are best for you, depending on your skill level and experience. In this article, we will discuss the ten popular and best mountain biking trails in Arizona.

1. Mescal Trail

Mescal Trail
©Earth Trekkers

Mescal Trail is a 13-mile trail rated for intermediate and advanced riders. There is no better trail in Sedona than Mescal Trail. There is a two-mile stretch that blends rocky terrain with plenty of forests and slick rock riding. There is an entire section of this trail that is a hotspot for slick rock riding. It is near the suburbs of the trail, by Mescal Mountain.

Intermediate riders who like rocky climbs find this trail interesting. It is filled with rocks and structures that will test your skills. When you get to the end of the trail, you will see the Courthouse Butte’s beautiful sites.

At the beginning of the ride through the loop, you will be intimidated. Mescal Trail is famous among MTB riders for its extreme challenges and rewarding thrills. This trail may present some danger to the newbies. They should steer clear of this site.

Many mountain bikers, hikers, and bike-packers visit the Mescal Trail for its enchanting experiences. The trail also connects in the east with the Chuckwagon Trail, another popular route for mountain biking in Sedona. Mescal Trail also meets with Yucca Trail, the Deadman Pass Trail, the Canyon of Fools Trail, and the Boynton Vista Trail.

Because of its many connections with other trails in the area, it is considered a communal melting point for bikers and hikers to meet and socialize. There are few local bike shops present in the area like Enchantment Resort. Mescal Mountain Trail is a must-visit route that will diversify your journey.

2. Slim Shady Trail

Slim Shady Trail
©Two Wheeled Wanderer

Slim Shady Trail is a 2.6-mile trail rated for intermediate and advanced riders. People describe the Slim Shady Trail as red sands and smooth sailings. Across the main highway, the trail is notable in the area for its outstanding beauty and colorful flora. The trail is a two-way route. You can start either way. Half of the trail is ascending, and the other half is descending.

Against the sun, the sand and rocks shine red while the dotted vegetation contrasts it. Every twist and turn of the trail is smooth and low-lying. This allows the bikers to enjoy their beautiful ride. The trail is not a challenging one for mountain biking, but it is breathtaking.

Beginners should not be fooled by the absence of significant elevations and steep rises. It is rated blue-square, and it has a slope gradient of 30 to 40%. This is still relatively high for newbies and should be avoided by that demographic. For those with experience in this gradient, the ride will be more than charming.

Just like the Mescal Trail, the Slim Shady Trail also connects with other popular trails. They include the famed Llama Trail, the Templeton Trail, and the Bell Rock Trail. The Bell Rock Trail loops around the Slim Shady Trail. You can also take a hot detour of the route before getting back to the Slim Shady Trail.

If you are willing to take on a more significant challenge, you can ride along the Made in the Shade Trail. The Made runs right alongside the Slim Shady Trail, rated black diamond with a steeper slope.

The Slim Shady Trail is open for night riding. It also has a few bike repair shops like the Absolute Bikes shop in Sedona. If you would like to challenge yourself to work on your bike, there are suitable repair kits like the Bicycle Repair Bag & Bicycle Tire Pump Home Bike Tool that will help. It is also good to check the shops out on your way. This trail presents both a minor challenge and an enormous stress-reliever.

3. Honeybee Canyon Loop, Oro Valley Bike Trail

Honeybee Canyon Loop, Oro Valley Bike Trail
©Arizona Outback Adventures

This trail covers a distance of 16.8 miles. It is rated for beginners and intermediates. Newbies, this is the place for you. The Honeybee Canyon Loop is rated blue-square and it passes through Oro Valley. It is divided into two halves.

The first half of the trail starts smooth and is almost boring. The Oro Valley is in a humid area. This makes riding challenging, but with the right equipment and refreshments, you will surely pull through. At first, the uphill climb seems boring. As you climb, you will sink into the natural beauty of the trail.

The trail mostly looks like a desert with cactus and wild shrubs growing every few miles. For those who like the Rocky Mountains and canyons, the view is excellent.

After riding for miles, you will eventually catch on to the second half of the trail, a downhill descent. The descent is sudden but gradual enough to gear yourself up. This is the most exciting part of the ride that most bikers grasp.

You can access the trail from Oracle Road, where there is a parking lot to park your car. Do not use Miravista Lane for parking. You won’t be able to access the Oracle Road entrance.

Both beginners and advanced riders can take on the trail head-on. Beware that the trails are long and exhausting. Also, be cautious that the trail has many detour trails that can easily swing you off. Keep on checking your GPS and stay close to the main route. The Garmin Edge 830 Touchscreen is among the best GPS’s for this riding. Truly, Honeybee Canyon Trail is one of the longest mountain bike trails in Arizona. The trail is not challenging but requires a strong will and great tolerance.

4. Hangover Trail, Sedona Mountain Bike Trail

Hangover Trail, Sedona Mountain Bike Trail
©Singletracks

The Hangover Trail is a 3.2-mile trail rated for advanced riders. It is possibly one of the shortest but dangerous trails for mountain biking in Sedona, Arizona. The trail is quite intense, and the journey will be quite stormy. You may need a full-face helmet like the Bell Super Air R MIPS for protection.

From the Cow Pies Trail, the Hangover Trail climbs upward through a saddle that cuts straight through two red standing stones. The trail then rides through the knife-edge of the cliff 200 feet from the ground. 

The ride will put every skill to the test. From the twisting to the climbing and even balancing, the single-track is undoubtedly dangerous. This does not stop riders from riding on the trail. The saddle’s flat area is famous for riders to settle down, take a break, and think of their next step.

After conquering the knife-edge of the trail, the path takes you down to a safer slick rock formation. Safety here is relative. The downhill is not level nor smooth. It might appear as if you are speeding to the bottom if you make a mistake. 

The thrill and adrenaline at the end of the trail are rewarding. If you have a phobia of heights, do not ride on this trail. The intensity of the trail wears down as you are ascending. You can ride smoothly across the Junipers into the Munds Wagon Trail.

5. 50-Year Trail, Tucson Mountain Bike Trail

50-Year Trail, Tucson Mountain Bike Trail
©Arizona Bike Rides

The 50-year trail is a 3.7-mile route rated for advanced, intermediates, and beginners skills. It is rated as a blue-square biking trail for mountain biking in Arizona. Anyone can ride this trail. 

The ride starts smoothly for about 3 miles then goes uphill. The gradient starts rising to a maximum of 7%. The ride is relatively easy, but the second half is somehow challenging. The main challenge the 50-Year Trail poses is that it becomes intense, regularly making riders hike their way through. It is recommended that riders should carry their hiking gear.

There are some dangers present on this trail, particularly at night. The trail is a brooding ground for snakes showing up at night, causing panic among riders. Also, watch out for potholes and sandy spots that will meddle with your ride.

A local bike shop loans out rented bikes which is great for beginners who do not own a bike yet. It is also a clear way to wander the area if you are passing by quickly. The scenery is very similar to the rest of Arizona’s hot arid climate. The shrubs add a nice look to the grey and sandy landscape. If you like taking back souvenirs, you can collect some wildflowers.

6. Pemberton Loop 

Pemberton Loop 
©MTB Project

Pemberton trail is great for beginners. The Loop is a Single-track extending for 15 miles. There are various places you can start your ride. If you are looking for a shorter ride, you can cut the loop off by several miles by taking the Bluff Trail or Tonto Tank Trail. The desert trail is wide and fast. There are also enticing trails you can take to make your ride longer.

The trail does not have huge climbs or descents. Few technical features are making your ride fun. The beginner trail is well marked with signs. There is a wild horse population nearby, so that you can encounter horses on the trail.

7. Templeton Trail

Templeton Trail

Templeton Trail is a challenging and exciting single-track with some of the most scenic prospects of the Sedona area. When leaving the Bell Rock Pathway, you will twist and turn downhill through the forest and the two tunnels under highway 179. This is a fast ride through the woods with a great flow.

After the first mile, there is an intersection with the HT Trail, an alternate route to the Bell Rock Pathway. Here, stay left and follow the trail as it ascends and descends through the forest to the Cathedral Rock base. The trail turns more to slick rock and follows the curves of the mountain north. The trail is a bit technical and some places, exposed.

1.5 miles later, you will see a large opening, a slick rock point, and the intersection with the Cathedral Rock Trail. There is a hiking trail that starts at Back O’beyond Rd and goes straight up the mountain. From here, the mountain biking trail gets more technical. If you are not ready for the challenge, this is the place for you to take a break and head back.

A half a mile past the Cathedral Rock Trail, you will go down through several technical switchbacks to the river. Follow it for another half a mile. There is an open field with a fence. You will ride to the 2.2 mile Baldwin Trail. You will also see the beginning of the loop, which you can ride in either direction. It is advisable to follow the loop anticlockwise.

Keep left at several intersections, which will take you to the top, around the mountain, and back to the river. The trail is both fun and challenging. Once back at the river, follow the Templeton back to the starting point.

8. Schultz Creek Trail

Schultz Creek Trail
©RootsRated

The Schultz Creek mountain biking trail in Flagstaff, Arizona, is 25 miles long. There are beautiful sceneries to enjoy at Flagstaff’s Coconino National Forest. The mountain biking experience starts at 7200 feet and goes up and down throughout the trail. It’s advisable to visit the trail during a warmer time of the year unless you want to pedal your way through the snow. 

9. Black Canyon Trail

Black Canyon Trail
©Escape Adventures

The Black Canyon Trail is in Phoenix, Arizona. If you are in Phoenix, do not leave without trying the Black Canyon Trail. Here, you might end up trekking the better part of the day. The trail is almost 80 miles long. Carry a lot of water and snacks. Throughout the trail, there are different terrain types in the Prescott National Forest and the Sonoran Desert. Take brakes if necessary to avoid being worn out. 

Conclusion

Mountain biking in Arizona is full of challenges. With the right equipment and experience, anyone can enjoy the slick rock rides across the canyon. These trails are perfect for advanced riders. There are some trails that newbies will find enticing. Remember to pack the right equipment and plan your route.