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Arizona is home to some of my all-time favorite riding. As a mountain biker at heart, I’ve ridden the world-class singletrack in Sedona, Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott, and more.
But Arizona bike trails aren’t just for mountain bikers. There are incredible road rides (hello Mt. Lemmon), epic bikepacking adventures (I’m still working up to the 800-mile Arizona Trail), and scenic bike paths that pass through some of Arizona’s most magical landscapes.
So whether you’re setting your sights on climbing the legendary Mt. Lemmon Highway outside of Tuscon or exploring the red dirt mountain bike trails of Sedona, this post explores all of the best two-wheeled riding across the state.
mountain biking trails
I think any mountain biker who has really explored the singletrack trails around Arizona can agree that it’s one of the best states for mountain biking.
From the red rock of Sedona to the cacti-lined trails of Phoenix to the unique rock formations riding around Prescott, Arizona is a must-ride destination for any avid singletrack seeker.
1. Sedona, Arizona
Why mountain bike in Sedona?
Sedona, Arizona is hands-down one of my favorite places to mountain bike. I love the incredible views, the unique red rock riding, the challenging terrain, and, of course, the vortex vibes.
It’s a place I’d happily visit year after year, and honestly, the Village of Oak Creek just south of Sedona is a mountain biking town I’d consider moving to because the riding is that good.
One thing to note about Sedona, though, is that it’s not exactly a beginner-friendly place for mountain biking. If you want to explore mellower trails in Sedona, I recommend hiring a guide.
Sedona Mountain Biking Posts
2. Phoenix, Arizona
Why mountain bike in Phoenix?
Phoenix is another of my favorite places to mountain bike in Arizona. It’s a lot more cross-country than Sedona, but I really enjoy the long pedals and beautiful desert landscapes.
You’d need weeks to explore all the mountain bike trails around Phoenix, but the nice thing is that it’s a perfect winter escape if you’re craving some singletrack and warm sunshine in the depths of winter.
Phoenix Mountain Biking Posts
3. Prescott, Arizona
Why mountain bike in Prescott?
I’ve only mountain biked in Prescott once, but it left an impression on me and I’m excited to get back to explore further. Unlike a lot of the other desert singletrack trails in Arizona, Prescott is up in the conifer forests and aspen groves, so it’s not your stereotypical Arizona hot and dry biking.
The trails that I rode were beautiful and the singletrack networks felt well-built and maintained.
It also feels like Prescott is still kinda under the radar when it comes to mountain biking, so it’s got a local’s vibe, which is getting harder and harder to find.
Looking for more great singletrack? Check out my top picks for awesome Arizona mountain biking destinations.
4. Tucson, Arizona
Why mountain bike in Tucson?
Tuscon is the fourth and final mountain bike destination along the corridor between Prescott and the Mexico border.
While I don’t love the mountain biking in Tucson quite as much as I do Phoenix and Sedona, it still has some great singletrack trails, particularly in Catalina State Park.
One of my all-time favorite trails is the Full Lemmon Drop. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but if you’re up for an all-day adventure with some very technical riding, it’s a must-ride for sure.
Tucson Mountain Biking Posts
Road Biking Routes
Arizona has historically been a go-to place for road riders in the winter. As gravel biking has exploded, it’s also become a great place to explore the remote fire roads that crisscross the state.
Admittedly, I’m not as familiar with the gravel and road routes in Arizona as I am with the singletrack trails, but here are the top contenders for the best routes and rides.
5. Gates Pass McCain Loop, Tucson
Why ride the Gates Pass McCain Loop?
The Gates Pass McCain Loop road ride is a popular route on the west side of Tucson. It passes by Old Tucson where you can get a glimpse of the “Old West” before looping around Brown Mountain and the southern border of Saguaro National Park.
Depending on where you start, the ride can be anywhere from 20-40 miles and has a few moderate climbs and a fast, descent. I recommend riding the lollipop clockwise.
If you want to learn more about the landscape you’re riding through, stop at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
6. Queen Creek Wash Trail, Phoenix
Why pedal the Queen Creek Wash Trail?
The Queen Creek Wash Trail is a relatively short 11-mile round-trip paved path within the Queen Creek neighborhood of southeast Phoenix.
But despite being an urban trail, the Queen Creek Wash actually feels pretty secluded and far from urban life.
It parallels a dry wash and passes through several open spaces, making it feel more like a nature preserve instead of a city park.
You can also make this ride a loop via the Sonoqui Wash Trail, which runs parallel to the Queen Creek Wash Trail.
Bike Path & Rail Trail Gear Favorites
Below are a few of my favorite pieces of biking and recommendations for your bike path and rail trail adventures:
7. The Loop, Tucson
Why ride The Loop?
“The Loop” is a 53+ mile paved cycling route in Tucson, Arizona that is completely car-free.
It’s actually part of a larger 131-mile paved route system that threads its way through the city and connects parks, restaurants, art installations, shopping areas, and more. How cool is that?! There are multiple trail access points and parking areas along the route.
I highly recommend taking the Aviation Bikeway detour from downtown Tucson so you can pedal over the Rattlesnake Bridge.
The trail system also extends north into the beautiful Oro Valley and the Catalina Mountains, making Tucson one of the best road cycling cities in the southwest.
Epic Bike Rides of The Americas
Looking for more amazing Arizona bike trails? I highly recommend grabbing Epic Bike Rides of the Americas for inspiration. It’s a great coffee table book. Browse through it on rainy days or during the long, cold winters to find your next two-wheeled adventure.
Where to shop:
8. Mt. Lemmon Highway, Tucson
Why pedal up Mt. Lemmon?
One of the most famous Arizona road cycling routes is the Mt. Lemmon Highway in Tucson. This beast of a ride starts at around 2,557 feet at the base of Mt. Lemmon (which I’ve mountain bike down) and steadily climbs up, and up, and up for over 22 miles on a wide shoulder to the small community of Summerhaven at the top.
It’s a big day with about 7,000 ft of climbing, but it’s definitely a must-ride for many cyclists visiting Tucson.
Bikepacking & Touring Adventures
If you enjoy a bit of adventure, I highly recommend planning an overnight or multi-day trip along one of these longer-distance Arizona bike trails.
Personally, bikepacking is my favorite way to travel because you really get to see, explore, and experience everything that the Grand Canyon State has to offer.
9. The Black Canyon Trail
Why bikepack the Black Canyon Trail?
The Black Canyon Trail is a stunning 60+-mile stretch of singletrack that runs from just outside Prescott, Arizona down to Phoenix. Some (crazy) mountain bikers do this in a day, but it’s more often completed as a 2-3 day bikepacking route through the Sonoran desert.
I rode the Black Canyon Trail as a two-night bikepacking trip with a friend and absolutely loved it.
The route traverses through some amazing desert landscapes filled with saguaro forests, rugged canyons, open plains, and stunning ridgelines.
There are also shorter sections of the Black Canyon Trail that make for a great out-and-back mountain bike ride.
10. The AZT (Arizona Trail)
Why bikepack the Arizona Trail?
The AZT – or the Arizona Trail – is perhaps the most epic of all Arizona’s trails. Stretching from the Utah border north of Flagstaff all the way down to the Mexico border south of Tucson, the AZT covers over 800 miles of singletrack and doubletrack trails.
Along the way, riders traverse through a huge variety of terrain from mountain passes to desert landscapes and even a 24-mile hike across Grand Canyon National Park (bikes must be dissembled and carried!).
It’s a trip that has been on my mind, but it sounds… daunting. I’m hoping to do the entire thing one day!
>> Learn more: Bikepacking the AZT
11. The Sky Islands Odyssey
The Sky Islands Odyssey bikepacking route starts in the small southern Arizona town of Patagonia about an hour’s drive south of Tucson. The Sky Islands are named for a series of forested mountain ranges surrounded by lowland desert and grassland.
The Odyssey circumnavigates one of these Sky Islands – the Santa Rita Mountains.
Riders can choose to do the entire 230-mile loop or one of the two smaller East or West loops.
Whichever route you choose, you’re sure to enjoy stunning and ever-changing scenery, wildlife sightings (including jaguars!), Native American culture, and so much more. I haven’t done this trip myself, but it’s been on my bike-it list for a while.
Final thoughts On Arizona Bike trails
These 11 paths and trails are just a handful of all the awesome biking opportunities found throughout Arizona.
Whether you’re an avid mountain biker, a roadie, a gravel grinder, or you’re looking to set out on a multi-day bikepacking or touring trip, I hope these ideas will help you plan an awesome trip to this beautiful part of the world.
Looking for more ‘best’ bike trails in the west? Check out these related posts: