23 routes · Mountain Biking · Hiking
Arizona Trail Loop: East of Patagonia
A fantastic loop ride made possible by a new section of the AZT built in 2020.
Mountain Biking Difficult
- 31 km
- 545 m
- 545 m
- 2-3 hrs
- Low Point
- 1.2 km
- High Point
- 1.5 km
There are at least three different possible starting points, including "downtown" Patagonia and two different AZT trailheads. The route shown here begins from downtown, which is also the low point of the loop. The first three miles of the route follow Harshaw Canyon Road, but then after that, the rest of the ride is all on dirt and almost 100% singletrack.
The first section of singletrack is the original AZT alignment, which climbs steeply from the road, quickly turning into a hike-a-bike for most riders. This section of singletrack goes up and down sharply as it avoids cliff bands and dips in and out of narrow canyons.
As you progress through this ride, you'll notice a never-ending succession of fences and closed gates. This loop might set a record for the number of gates per mile. Even though it's a pain, be sure to close every single gate behind you and be a good steward of the trail. Parts of this route pass through private property, and even on public land, there are plenty of cattle grazing easements. Help keep all mountain bikers and trail users in a positive light by doing this one simple thing to respect the locals.
After reaching the top of the first short, steep pitch, the trail drops steeply into an isolated but beautiful valley! The singletrack here is tight, steep, rubbly, and loose—but the views are beautiful.
After a few miles, you'll cross an old doubletrack road and T into what is now the main Arizona Trail. Take a left to begin following the new addition to the trail.
At the time of this writing in early 2023, some parts of this new trail segment are becoming quite faint and overgrown due to a lack of use. You may even lose the trail at times, but you normally don't have to spend much time searching for the track—you can pick it up again quite easily. To avoid getting lost, be sure to download this route for offline navigation.
At the bottom end of the valley, the trail gets much more defined as it begins to climb up and over a mountain ridge. The bench cutting and trail building here is much better than what's come before on this ride, and even though this is one of the major climbs of the route, it's all quite pedalable due to modern trail building techniques and moderate grades. As you climb, the scenery will keep getting better until you gain spectacular views over the isolated mountain valley that you just rode through.
Once at the top of the mountain, take a minute to catch your breath, and then get ready to rip! The main descent of the ride awaits, and you'll swoop and flow down superb intermediate-friendly singletrack that zig zags along the mountainside, drops into washes, and flowing through the rolling hills of Southern Arizona. There are a couple of short climbs along the way, but the majority of the work is done. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!
The singletrack ends where it enters a piece of private property, with the AZT route following an easement along a doubletrack road. Follow the signs for the AZT, eventually switching back to singletrack, as you head toward the highway.
The next junction is tricky: as you approach the highway, ride all the way to the bridge, where the AZT runs under the highway. Look for the singletrack on the eastern side of the bridge (the same side you came from), on the opposite (southern) side of the wash. Pick up this trail, and begin paralleling the highway as you head back toward Patagonia.
This final section of trail can feel like a bit of a slog at points as you grind out flat miles to return to downtown. However, it's so much better to be riding a singletrack through the fields and forests instead of battling high-speed highway traffic on the pavement! Before you know it, you'll be back in downtown Patagonia, ready for a cold brew at Patagonia Lumber Co.
Mostly stable trail tread with some variability featuring larger and more unavoidable obstacles that may include, but not be limited to: bigger stones, roots, steps, and narrow curves. Compared to lower intermediate, technical difficulty is more advanced and grades of slopes are steeper. Ideal for upper intermediate riders.
Best time to visit
- Rock Gardens