Length: 4.5 miles
Descriptors: Singletrack, Climb, Steep, Chunky, Super Tech, Ridgeline
Access: San Juan Rd.
Options: One way: E > W best route. Connects from Bajada and West National
The skinny: Alta is a trail for the experienced expert. Big climing, and super technical descending. Exposure and sharp rocks galore. If you want to ride Alta you better Bring it.
View Alta: South Mountain in a larger map
Alta is a South Mountain technical gem. It is a favorite for hikers and one of the legendary technical trails for mountain bikers. At 4.5 miles coast to coast Alta gives you a gorgeous sufferable climb for 1.5 miles — followed by a mile of challenging exposed descending. Then climb for another half mile plus and you are at the saddle — ready to descend into Alta tech oblivion.
If the tech up to this point didn’t buck you right off your bike, there are a few moves down this section that surely will. Switchbacks, exposure, loose, tight, cactus, and did I say steep?
Do not attempt Alta unless you are a seasoned skilled rider that is bored with National, Corona Loma, Holbert and Kiwanis. The “easier” climb is East to West, the gnarly of all gnarly climbs is the opposite. Make sure you have your SPOT messenger, it you ride solo. Better yet, bring a buddy that is strong enough to carry you down the mountain when you endo. Not many bikers or hikers will be out there to rescue you.
Access to Alta is limited with the closure of the San Juan Road most days of the month. Hikers and bikers can enjoy a stroll along Bajada south of San Juan Road to get to the Alta Trailhead. Enjoy, be safe. Good Luck!
Photos of Alta (the first few are of Telegraph Pass and Kiwanis)