“Trail that bridges 50 year to Charleau Gap”
— Hillary Mathis on May 28, 2014
Low: 3,515’ Low
Ascent: 887’ Ascent
Ave/Grade (4°): 5%
Max Grade (13°): 19%
Saguaro National Park East has a huge hiking trail network, but only a small part of this trail bonanza is made available for mountain bikers. But don’t let this discourage you: what’s open to the cycling lovers are the best trails that Saguaro National Park has to offer when visiting Tucson, Arizona.
Cactus Forest is filled with, well you guessed it, cacti. The views are gorgeous and there are no dangers of getting pricked by anything so long as you’re on a good quality bike and stay on the cycling routes. We recommend you take the uphill section, turn around, and recover by rolling downhill on your bike. This biking trail lends itself perfectly to repeats, so feel free to turn around and hit it again.
Upon entrance to the park, you can ask the Saguaro National Park East ranger for directions to the cycling trails. This will help you avoid confusion when it comes to what trails are approved for mountain biking. Don’t be scared by the uniforms, the Arizona rangers are friendly, humorous, and more than happy to point you in the right direction!
NOTE: The Saguaro National Park is, at the risk of being redundant, an Arizona national park. Because of this, you will be required to pay a small $5 fee to enter the park. Paying the fee is worth the ride!
If you are from out of town and don’t have an annual pass, we recommend this hot tip: wait for a local with an annual pass and ride in with them to avoid the $5 fee. The locals with annual passes can get two cyclists in per pass. You’ll soon find out that not only are our rangers friendly, but our local Tucson dwellers are, too! Strike up a conversation to see how biking can create friendships.
“The scenery is really incredible. I love taking my mountain bike out to the roads there. Cycle your heart out and then get something to eat at the cool bar across the street. If you’re up for a challenge, take the 5-mile paved loop around the park a few times. Now that is what I mean when I say Tucson is road and mountain biking nirvana!”
Jason, The Bike Bandit