5 Best Tucson Mountain Bike Trails for Beginners

downhill bike rider rides down the mount Lemmon
Biking on Mt. Lemmon | Tucson, AZ

Tucson, Arizona is one of the world's greatest mountain biking destinations...and for good reason! There are few better ways to enjoy the American Southwest than getting on a mountain bike and enjoying the picturesque, scenic trails of Tucson.

Visitors and tourists from all over the country (and the world) flock to Tucson for road and mountain biking adventures...and most of the newcomers are novice riders.

Below you will find five great beginner-friendly mountain bike trails that everyone can enjoy - even kids!

NOTE: Mountain biking is one of the greatest thrills you can enjoy in our state. However, do take this activity seriously. Come prepared and always bike with plenty of water. No matter what season you are biking in, our dry, arid climate saps you of salt and fluids quickly. Bike with a friend or hire a tour guide. Be safe and make sure to carry proper tools, spare tires, and everything you need to have a safe trip.

Sweetwater Preserve Trailhead - Central Tucson, Arizona

Sweetwater is one of the newest additions to the Tucson trail-system, and its popularity has exploded. Sweetwater is awesome because there is a vast east side trail system that is windy, curvy, fast, and fun - and totally great for those starting out! The east side is smooth and very well manicured. Plus, the entire trail system has maps that show mountain bikers where they are located at all times. The entire system is more or less a loop and all you have to do is look in the general direction of the parking lot, find a trail, and it will lead you back. You are not going to get lost here.

The west side, on the other hand is much more technical. Start out on the beginner friendly east side and you will curve around in a semi-circle to the west side. The trail gradually gets tougher. I love this trail because I can bring friends of all biking levels.

Sweetwater Preserve offers fantastic views of Tucson and impeccable scenery. It's a great place for mountain bikers of all levels to discover Tucson.

For more trail information including free maps, click here.

Honeybee Canyon/Rail X – Oro Valley, Arizona

Honeybee Canyon is another spectacular and very easy ride. It is relatively flat - with some jeep trail, dirt road, asphalt, and single track. You will see petroglyphs, cattle, open range, windmills, and part of Rancho Vistoso.

If you want to make this an all-day epic ride, Honeybee/Rail X is just a small part of the entire Tortolita trail system.

Tour Guide Kirby Rodriguez for Oro Valley Bike Rentals and Tours had this to say, “Honeybee has become one of the most sought after mountain bike trails in our state because the volunteers keep the track in such great, pristine shape. This is a challenging enduro ride if you choose to bike the whole trail-system. Otherwise, the trail is not very technical or difficult.”

Honeybee is a perfectly manicured single track mountain bike trail. Windy and curvy throughout, this trail is fun for mountain bikers of all levels. Considered the most spectacular and scenic trailhead by many seasoned mountain bikers in Arizona, Honeybee Canyon is a true desert delight.

For more trail information including free maps, click here.

Fantasy Island Bunny Trail (Valencia Side) Tucson

Fantasy Island’s main loop, Lone Cactus, has many side loops off of it so you can pick the mileage you want to do. All loops have a varying degree of technical areas, with nothing being super technical.

If you are just starting out in the endeavor of mountain biking, try out the Bunny Trail on the Valencia side of Fantasy Island. Most of this trail is incredible easy, but there are a few "whoopsie doopsies" (trails that offer sudden small drops) that you have to be aware of. Fantasy Island is a true mountain bike park.

Riders of all levels enjoy Fantasy Island. However, those who are new to this endeavor are best served by starting out on the Bunny side. "The Bunny" is a great way to get your feet wet in Tucson mountain biking.

For more trail information including free maps, click here.

West Desert Preserve - Green Valley, Arizona (20 minutes south of Tucson)

The West Desert Trails are located on a 2,000 acre area to the west of Green Valley. The property is now owned by the Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold and some of the property is used for groundwater extraction wells and related infrastructure. This is the Fantasy Island of Green Valley mountain biking. The West Desert Preserve is really just a very, very large trail system, engulfed by sprawling cactus. There is nothing technical here and many senior citizens and kids start out mountain biking here.

Rodriguez commented, “West Desert Preserve is an unheralded gem in Southern Arizona. You can do many miles of gentle single track or you can bike for even more miles on flat, dirt service road. This is a perfect trail for a basic hard tailed mountain bike.”

For more trail information including free maps, click here.

Arizona Trail - Starting at The Gabe Zimmerman Trailhead

The famous Arizona Trail goes from the Mexican border through Arizona to Utah. This trail offers it all. For newbie mountain bikers looking to enjoy a great ride on fun, windy single track, start out at the Gabe Zimmerman trailhead and bike south. This is one of the most enjoyable rides in the southwest! Just keep going south and you will gradually be riding higher in elevation. When you need to head back, the downhill will be fast and fun. Your elevation gains will be very steady. The descent will be epic.

For more trail information including free maps, click here.

Thanks to Jason White for submitting this excellent article to help new mountain bike riders find their bliss in Tucson. 


Guest Author - Jason White is a top mountain bike tour guide for Tucson Bike Rentals and Tours. He is an avid mountain and road biker who retired to Tucson just for the incredible biking that our region offers. He boasts that his bike costs more than his car (meaning he drives a cheap car). When he's not biking, Jason loves hiking, rafting, and just about anything that is outdoors.

TucsonTopia contains both paid and non-paid mentions of businesses and organizations in and around Tucson, Arizona. Any reference made here to local businesses, services, classes, etc. is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement. We encourage you to do your own research before participating in an event or engaging with a local business or organization. The intent of TucsonTopia is to provide ideas for family-friendly activities, events, and resources. Participants assume all risks for any activities they engage in. TucsonTopia is not responsible for any injuries or problems that may arise from partaking in any of these events and activities.
© 2012-2024 TucsonTopia - All Rights Reserved | Privacy Policy
menu-circlecross-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram