Do you have a list of trails you’ve been meaning to ride for a long time? Ones you just never get to because there is always “somewhere else” to ride? I’ve got a nice long list like that… but yesterday I traversed a loop on the west end of South Mountain that checked off 8, yes 8, bucket list trails. Here’s what I rode:
Telegraph Pass > Kiwanis > Las Lomitas > Max Delta > Bajada > Alta > National > DCX (aka Ruins, Western) > Sidewalk > Telegraph Pass Lot.
Trails on South Mountain west of Telegraph Pass have eluded me (as well as many others) for years. I’ve heard rumors about the chunky descents on Kiwanis and Alta, as well as the relatively tame XC trails like Bajada, Las Lomitas and Max Delta. But what’s amazing is how you can use all these trails to connect together some super cool and crazy loops.
The first trail. Telegraph Pass. I knew there was a lot of HAB, but just how much? Quite a bit I, found out :) But it’s the good kind of HAB, big and steep. My new pair of Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduros (review coming soon) really paid for themselves on this HAB. I rode some of the moves up, but really, just coming from the Foothills Lot (which has doubled in size recently allowing parking for way more cars…) I was hardly warm enough to have any groove. Loved all the hiker comments though. Is it really that rare to see a bike going up? Now coming down Telegraph, I imagine that will be a hoot.
At the top I stopped and talked to Bruce, a Coloradan, here on business, out for a ride on a rented Stumpjumper. I could tell he had the MTB mojo. He was out to explore and asked if he could tag along as I explored the west.
I told him that Kiwanis was big, how big I wasn’t sure, but we would both find out. Right into the first big step drop I had to dismount. Not a good sign, but I didn’t want to risk a crash before even getting onto the trail! I can sum up Kiwanis with this short clip:
It’s Holbert-esque, big drops, big steps all sequenced together for a super chunky ride. For more Kiwanis vids visit http://vholdr.com/users/mtbikeaz
On to Los Lomitas. Descent XC trail nothing spectacular, fun and fast in spots. On to Max Delta. More XC, some climbs, and really good views. Bruce and I parted ways at the Bajada trailhead, he went East back to National via the road, I went west on to the infamous Alta Trail.
The climb up Alta was all I had dreamed it would be. Narrow, tight, loose, exposed, steep, relentless…all good things when you want to suffer. It was kind of like Toms Thumb with the swithcbacks, but there was so much tech in between it doubled the suffer factor.
I’ll say, Alta has got to be one of the gnarliest rides I’ve encountered in Arizona. So remote, so many technical features, so much exposure. You put all that on one trail and you’ve got ingredients for a super fun ride…if you’re into that kind of fun…
Here’s a clip from one of the downhill spots on the west end. I am not ashamed to say I walked a few of the more treacherous moves. After all, riding solo, I do have to make some concessions. Some stuff was clearly out of my league…
For more Alta vids visit http://vholdr.com/users/mtbikeaz
Not too sound overdramatic, but I felt real lucky getting down Alta without incident. This is really a “bring your buddy so he can carry you down the mountain in case you endo big” ride.
The last leg was the little known Desert Classic Extension/Western/Ruin trail. No official names, not even official trail, but it’s there for the riding. Heading East was a nice climb to a saddle, then really magnificent singletrack all the way to the sidewalk. Stellar trail system. Stellar day on the bike.