FATMAP difficulty grade
For an epic route that tries to maximize the mileage found in the Tucson Mountain Range, try the "Tucson Mountains Epic" on for size.
This 37-mile route makes the most of the expansive singletrack found in this trail system while minimizing the amount of backtracking required to make it happen.
But if you're willing to do a bit more backtracking and weaving around, you can easily turn this into a 50+ mile all-day excursion that's guaranteed to give you your fill of rocks and cacti! The route as mapped begins at the Starr Pass Trailhead—one of the most popular trailheads on Tucson's west side.
While you can ride all of these trails in either direction, the route as mapped begins by pedaling up the easy-rolling Yetman Trail, crossing over to the western side of the mountain range.
It traverses along the west side to reach an extensive loop of easy singletrack in the western foothills.
The trails here are delightfully flowy and mellow, swooping through beautiful flatlands filled with cacti...
but they belie the technical difficulty that is yet to come. After doing the one section of backtracking on this ride by retracing your tracks on the Yetman Trail, the route continues to skirt around the west side of the mountains to reach the iconic Starr Pass.
This section may be one of the most scenic on the ride, as the trail winds around jagged, rocky peaks. Next up is the Explorer Trail.
Explorer provides rugged, challenging singletrack with short, punchy climbs and steep, twisty descents.
The rocks that provide the technical challenge are jagged and sharp, with rough protrusions just waiting to shred your sidewalls or pinch flat your tire.
Where the trail descends off the backside of a low pass, the sharp rocks mix with loose, rolling baby heads and shifting sand, providing a harsh, challenging descent that can make it difficult to pick up speed. After ducking under the highway, you'll pedal up the Bittersweet Trail, which offers delightful up-and-down cross-country riding, covering miles of Sonoran Desert singletrack. After swooping around the Camaro Loop, you'll head back north, connecting trails together to work your way around the 36th Street Trailhead, and eventually back to Starr Pass and your car. None of the miles come easily here, yet the beauty of this mountain range and the ability to pedal for miles and miles around and over these rugged peaks while still seeing the entirety of Tucson spread out below you is a unique and wonderful experience.