Length: 2.85 miles
Descriptors: Buff, Singletrack, Climb, Steep, Twisty, Mild Tech, Ridgeline
Access: 19th Avenue and Chandler Blvd. Trail begins at Road Ends sign.
Options: Out-n-back, connects with: Gila, National
The skinny: Bring your legs and your lungs for this short, steep ridgeline climb in West South Mountain Park. What goes up must come down! Fast, twisty, mostly buff descent, with some light tech. Bring it.
Locals started calling the trail Bees Knees back in 2010 when the trail was still getting cut in. There was this big sign warning of a beehive on the way up, and coming down, is the Bees Knees! The official name, Bursera, came much too late to ever stick.
I started riding Bees Knees back in March, 2010 — before the trail was even halfway blazed. I had heard about some new trails being built on the West side of South Mountain, in the new 620 purchase area, so naturally I had to explore. I spent several days riding out as far as I could, then returning, and heading out the next day to see how far the VOAZ crew had gotten. By April, it was complete. Even in those early days, with the wide trail and soft dirt, I knew Bees would be a sweet trail.
Bees knees is a climbers dream. It’s steep, forgiving singletrack, with just a couple of tech sections and challenging switchbacks. It’s steep all right, but all rideable. I’ve cleaned the climb East to West, but from Gila Trail West to East is an even steeper climb and has bested me in spots over and over.
The West side of South Mountain is remote. The views of the Estrella Mountains from the ridgeline are fantastic. If you are looking for an adventure. Head out to the west side of the park and and explore. Just be ready to pay for the views in sweat equity.