Best Mountain Biking Trails in Arizona

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mountain biking trails

Arizona is one of the best places on earth for mountain biking. The impressive mountains, open deserts, and gorgeous vistas give bikers plenty of options to enjoy throughout the entire year. From the hot, sprawling open areas in the southern part of the state to cool mountains and forests in Arizona’s northern reaches, there’s a diverse offering of different trails. Here are some of the best mountain biking trails in Arizona.

Hangover Trail in Sedona, Arizona

Despite the name, this is definitely not a trail we’d recommend for a morning when you’re feeling a little bit under the weather. The entire mountain biking trail is only a few miles long, but you might be surprised by how long it takes you and how much effort it requires. Hangover Trail isn’t a great fit for people who are relatively inexperienced because it will take a lot of technical skill to complete the maneuvers required. 

In addition to honing your own skills before you tackle this trail, make sure you have the right bike to handle the terrain. Be prepared to climb up steep red rocks, then navigate some tricky drops down the rock formations. The challenge is fun in and of itself, so we like to think of the scenery as an added bonus.

National Trail in Phoenix, Arizona

This trail is a good option for Phoenix residents who want something a little bit closer to home. Take a quick trip over the National Trail instead of making the drive north to Sedona or venturing to another area of the state. You’ll be glad the drive to this trail in Phoenix is easy because the trail itself is anything but. Over the course of about 14 miles, your endurance, technical biking skills, and climbing technique will all be challenged.

The difficulty is worth it because this is one of the most engaging mountain biking trails in Arizona. Much of the trail goes through the desert, but several climbs are short yet intense. Don’t give up when you’re going through the tough parts of South Mountain, and you’ll be rewarded with an excellent view of a waterfall.

Pemberton Loop in Scottsdale, Arizona

If you’re looking for the best mountain biking trail in Scottsdale, look no further. This trail is basically a wide loop through the McDowell Mountains, and you’ll ride about 15 miles before it’s all said and done. Most of our customers say they prefer to ride this loop in a clockwise direction to enjoy the best ride and the best views.

You can expect to encounter plenty of hills and challenging turns no matter which direction you’re going. About two-thirds of the ride will be a slow climb up the mountain, and the final stretch will allow you to pick up plenty of speed on your way down. Don’t go too fast, though, because the tight turns may put your biking skills to the test. Although you do need some technical skills to enjoy the ride, it’s generally considered a good fit for moderate mountain bikers.

Schult Creek in Flagstaff

When most people think about riding bikes in Arizona, they imagine pedaling through flat deserts and admiring a variety of cacti and desert succulents. That’s definitely not the case when you visit the Shultz Creek mountain biking trail in Flagstaff, Arizona. The trail is 25 miles long, which is good because it helps spread the heavy traffic that forms nice days.

As you enjoy the views of Flagstaff’s Coconino National Forest, you’ll see plenty of mountain views. This true mountain biking experience starts at 7,200 feet and goes up and down over the course of the trail. Given its location, you may want to visit this trail during one of the warmer times of the year unless you plan on pedaling your way through the snow. 

Black Canyon Trail in Phoenix, Arizona

You won’t have to leave Phoenix to enjoy this trail, but you should still count on your trek taking up the better part of an entire day. The trail is almost 80 miles long, so bring plenty of water and nourishing snacks to make sure you’re giving your body what it needs. Over the course of the entire trail, you’ll see diverse types of terrain in the Prescott National Forest as well as the Sonoran Desert.

The combination of classic desert views and woodland areas makes you realize just how far you’ve gone. If you only have time for one epic bike ride in Arizona, this is definitely one of the biking trails we’d recommend. Take breaks if needed so you don’t get too worn out. You’ll need to have plenty of energy and keep your wits about you as you go through some of the tight switchbacks.

Slim Shady Trail in Sedona

This is definitely one of the easiest trails on our list. If you make a trip to Sedona for some biking, Slim Shady Trail might be an ideal warmup for you. It’s between two and three miles long, which is still plenty long enough to offer classic views of the red rocks in Sedona. The smooth dirt trail connects to other trails in the area, so you can always stretch your ride out if you want. Even if you stick to Slim Shady Trail, you can get a decent workout by pumping your way up to some quick, steep climbs.

Lime Kiln Trail in Dead Horse Ranch State Park

This trail offers a moderate difficulty for intermediate riders. That said, it’s also a decent trek that measures nearly 15 miles in one direction. If you’re extremely confident in your mountain biking abilities, you may be able to complete the round trip of almost 30 miles. The other option is to coordinate with friends, then leave one vehicle at each end of the trail so you can just take a one-way trip.

You’ll get a great look at Dead Horse Ranch State Park as you travel this trail. You’ll see the low desert and high desert environments in addition, and you’ll start to get close to Sedona with its legendary red rocks at one end of the trail. This trail is a little bit rocky, but it’s defined enough that it isn’t too hard to follow. You’ll be able to see far ahead of you as you pedal this trail, which is nice for two reasons:

  • You’ll be able to soak up the view.
  • You can pick up a lot of speed without worrying that there’s a hidden obstacle in your path.

Best Mountain Bikes in Phoenix

If you want to get the most enjoyment possible out of these trails, it helps to have the right bike. Come visit us at Curbside Cyclery, and we’ll make sure you’re paired with the appropriate bike for your lifestyle. Whether you’re buying a state of the art mountain bike right off of the shelf or building a custom bicycle, you’ll be ready to tackle just about any kind of terrain you can find on the mountain biking trails in Arizona. Stop by today to get started!