First Ride in San Tan Park

by Mike on December 28, 2007

Santan Mountain Park Google Earth View

I finally got out to San Tan Mountain Regional Park last week. I’ve read plenty about the Santan’s in the past that kept me from exploring the area. Horse tales and sand traps are enough to keep any mountain biker away, not to mention all the doubletrack and jeep roads. I live so close to the Skyline trailhead that I still had to see for myself.

So glad I checked the park out. The heavy rains from the past weeks plus some serious riding by someone out there has packed the trails quite a bit. The gem trail of the San Tan Park is the wide Hawes-like singletrack on San Tan trail that loops to the south and rounds a big mountain. I could tell horses had been there but the MTB presence was cutting right through the hooves and forming a sweet trail. Nothing technical at all but plenty fun and fast. I love the adventure of a new trail.

I rode the San Tan trail counterclockwise from the Skyline TH. Just making it up and over Goldfield Mountain is an epic couple of miles. Once I was on the main loops even the doubletrack was a hoot. You can ride fast and keep a good pace. Going down Moonlight trail from the west side of San Tan is a blast. There are a couple of swoops that can give big air. Goldmine trail is nothing but a wide jeep road, but it completes the loop so ya gotta ride it.

The sandy spots on San Tan trail are on the east side, right out from the staging area up to a fork to the singletrack. I wouldn’t recommend doing the loop clockwise. Unless you like to climb in sand. But you can sure fly down it if you keep your speed up.

The San Tan trail from the Skyline TH is pretty much a “rite of passage” into the park. I don’t think many riders enter from here. There are four stages to the 1.1 mile climb. Stage one, the “warm up” from the gate that doesn’t even come close to getting you warm enough for stage two, the first big up. It’s rocky, technical, and pretty steep, but plenty of cleanable lines.

Then there’s the period of rest, about 100 yards of down before a little more of that cleanable technical uphill. The trail levels off again. Now it gets fun. The third leg of the climb starts off with a warning sign. I’ve only made it about 75 feet before losing it. But that was 50 feet further that the first time I attempted this leg. Most riders will begin the quarter mile hike-a-bike here. For the last 200 feet, the climb steepens enough to give it its own stage. It’s a monumental hike-a-bike, steep, loose, and rocky.

The drop down into the park is steep too, loose in spots but rideable and very fun. If you haven’t been to San Tan park I recommend the rite of passage. The epic climb plus the singletrack to the south make riding the oversized jeep road worth it.

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