Hawes: Sunset Ridge Loop

The most technical trail at Hawes, filled with big hucks and massive rock gardens.

Mountain Biking Extreme

Distance
14 km
Ascent
515 m
Descent
515 m
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
414 m
High Point
800 m
Gradient
10˚
Hawes: Sunset Ridge Loop Map

Sunset Ridge has quickly become one of the most famous trails in the Hawes Trail System, in part because it's the most difficult. This double black diamond downhill drops off one of the tallest ridges in the mountain range, following the spine of the ridge straight down the mountainside in a steep, technical, demanding descent.

Description

The trail is filled with massive ledge drops to narrow sniper landings, which are often washed out. In between the hucks, you'll find all manner of technical rock gardens and burl. While some of the hucks have A and B lines, you need to be prepared to send it off of some mandatory airs.

Lower down, the trail descends along the side of the ridge on a narrow bench cut, with some quite substantial fall exposure—especially considering the technicality of the challenging trail tread.

If you can somehow bring yourself to stop and take in the views, you'll be awed at the vistas from this gorgeous trail. The Sonoran Desert spreads out all around you, filled with all manner of cacti, including the towering Saguaros. Small pop-up mountain ranges rise from the desert floor, and to the north, you can see hints of the more majestic ranges rising high above.

Route Options

This route forms a logical loop from the west side of the Hawes Trail System, but do note that the climb on Cactus Garden is quite challenging and will force most riders to hike-a-bike at least a few sections. But if you complete the loop in this direction, you'll have the added reward of climbing back up a low rise and then ripping down the Mine Trail, in itself a fun, loose, technical romp back down toward the highway.

If you're looking for a flowier finish, take a right turn before the Mine Trail to reach Big Sister—the closest thing to a flow trail that you'll find in Arizona.

Sources: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTmzxNyk62w&abchannel=NateHills

Difficulty

Extreme

Very steep, difficult, narrow singletrack with widely variable and unpredictable trail conditions. Unavoidable obstacles could be 15in/38cm tall or greater, and unavoidable obstacles with serious consequences are likely to be present. Obstacles could include big rocks, difficult root sections, drops, jumps, sharp switchbacks, and more. Ideal for expert-level riders.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Technical
  • Singletrack
  • Drops
  • Jumps
  • Rock Rolls
  • Rock Slabs
  • Rock Gardens

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area