Cycle: 5 Great Arizona Rides

Categories: Bicycle Culture

photo by Daniel Christianson
Spring flowers blooming along the new Black Canyon Trail.
The current issue of Bicycling Magazine includes a list of the "Best Bike Ride in Every State." While the mag claims that the list is just a starting point, it made an interesting choice for Arizona, a state known for some legendary dirt and tarmac.

The choice made for us locals -- supposedly based on a survey of local bike shop owners, club riders and other area experts -- is the freshly carved and completed Black Canyon Mountain Bike Trail.

We've been hearing some glowing stories about this new strip of singletrack that runs along the I-17 from Anthem to Black Canyon City, but could this brand spankin' new route be the state's top ride? We'll know soon enough when we give it a run next month, but until then, here's a look at five AZ classics that could easily have gotten the nod.

photo by Jason Franz
A cyclist cuts along Desert Classic trail on South Mountain.
5. Desert Classic and National Trails on South Mountain - Two totally different tracks on the Valley's iconic mountain bike playground that can be joined should the legs feel up to the task. Desert Classic is a loose, flowy run that follows the south contour of the mountain. The majority can be ridden by cyclists of any skill level, but there are also stretches and side trails to challenge the most burly of knobby-tired huckers. And if you haven't taken the trail to the heli pad, you haven't actually completed DC. National is the crowned king of hard core mountain biking and requires fitness, skill and (most of all) balls. But its hallowed status calls visitors and pros from around the globe to tackle its drops and chutes. If you're up for it, be sure to hit the Waterfall.

Cyclists motor down Pima Road along the BOS route from the high point in Cave Creek.
4. BOS Ride - Known as the the Valley's fastest group ride, the BOS has been pounding the roads of North Scottsdale since 1981. Named for its starting point at the Bicycles of Scottsdale shop that has come and gone a few times at the corner of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard, the weekly 60-ish mile route rolls north along Pima Road towards Cave Creek, continually climbing to the summit point on Cave Creek Road known as "The Tower" just before the turnoff to Bartlett Lake. The return trip is where the fast part comes in as it is nearly pure downhill all the way back into Scottsdale. If the idea of riding in a bunch is a bit intimidating, the route is still among the Valley's best cutting along the scenic high Sonoran desert along iconic landmarks such as Pinnacle Peak and Reata Pass.

Location Info


South Mountain Park and Preserve

10919 S. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

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