Guidebook

Jagged Rocks and Shifting Sand: Phoenix's Best MTB Trails

Discover the best mountain bike trails across the sprawling Phoenix Metro Area.

Description

The mountain bike scene in the Phoenix Metro Area is as diverse as it is geographically dispersed. All around the outskirts of this sprawling metropolis, you'll discover singletrack riding of all types, from flowy cross country trails to steep, technical test pieces. In this guidebook you'll find a "greatest hits" roundup of the best rides near Phoenix ranging from mild to wild.

While you can find dramatically different flavors of singletrack in the Phoenix area, every trail you ride here will still consist of desert pedaling. Phoenix's desert riding is known for its jagged rocks, loose gravel, and shifting sand. Riders visiting from out of town who are accustomed to riding dark, loamy dirt may find the unpredictability of the trail surfaces here disconcerting. When things do go wrong (which they inevitably do), you won't find a safety net of soft undergrowth to cushion your fall. Instead, you're more likely to be impaled by a cholla or prickly pear cactus, and heaven forbid you run headlong into a massive saguaro! Even though it may feel like everything in the desert—from the rocks to the undergrowth to the animal life—is out to get you, the more time you spend here, the more you will come to appreciate the rugged beauty and the vibrant life found in this magical place known as the Sonoran Desert!

When it comes to trails, South Mountain is the undisputed epicenter of Phoenix mountain biking. In this guidebook, it’s represented by two rides: a stellar tech loop anchored by the Geronimo Trail and the cross country-friendly Desert Classic Trail.

McDowell Mountain Park is a close second-place contender for "most popular trail system," and is represented by the Pemberton Loop.

Other trails included in this guidebook, like White Tank, might not even be on your radar… but they are well-worth exploring! So dive deep into this list of trail recommendations… you might be surprised by the beautiful experiences you uncover!

South Mountain Technical Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

South Mountain Technical Loop

13.9 km
513 m
513 m
This route gives the technical rider a great tour of the best of South Mountain.
Severe
Private
Desert Classic Trail
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Desert Classic Trail

27.6 km
419 m
419 m
The easiest trail in the South Mountain Trail System makes for the perfect after work cross country ride.
Moderate
Private
McDowell Mountain: Pemberton Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

McDowell Mountain: Pemberton Loop

21.5 km
252 m
252 m
One of the best cross country loops at McDowell Mountain Park.
Moderate
Private
Brown's Ranch Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Brown's Ranch Loop

23.8 km
248 m
248 m
One of the most popular cross country loops in McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
Moderate
Private
Windgate Pass -> Bell Pass Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Windgate Pass -> Bell Pass Loop

15.5 km
630 m
630 m
A steep, technical loop providing a mountain feel right on the outskirts of Phoenix.
Severe
Private
Hawes Trail System
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Hawes Trail System

13.2 km
338 m
338 m
A sleeper hit in the Phoenix Metro Area.
Moderate
Private
White Tank Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

White Tank Loop

21.1 km
655 m
656 m
One of the most technical and most remote rides in the Phoenix Metro Area.
Extreme
Private
FINS XC Ride
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

FINS XC Ride

10.3 km
106 m
106 m
Mellow pedal on mountain bike-optimized singletrack.
Easy
Private
FINS Tech Ride
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

FINS Tech Ride

4.8 km
61 m
61 m
Two short-but-sweet feature-rich descents at FINS.
Difficult
Private