I recently had my first Enchanted Hills mountain biking experience. I rarely get to mountain bike in Tucson. I’m usually here with a road/gravel bike. I wanted to take advantage of that window of perfect mountain biking weather that we get around April.
Here’s what I found out about mountain biking at Enchanted Hills.
1. The Trails And Parking Areas Aren’t Crowded
When I rolled up to the Kennedy Park Trailhead late Saturday morning, there was only one other car in the parking lot. There were hikers and mountain bikers on the trails, but not so many that it felt like I was constantly in someone’s way.
Also, everyone exhibited classy trail manners. By percentage, this was probably the friendliest, most-considerate bunch of trail users I’ve seen in awhile.
2. You Can Plan Some Long Rides
There appear to be two sides to Tucson Mountain Park. My ride was mostly on the eastern portion. There were also more trails off to the southeast that I didn’t get to. The clock was ticking … and I also planned to ride back to the hotel to meet up with my family.
The west side looks intriguing, with some longer bits and fewer black trails. That makes me think it’ll be less technical.
3. The Trails Are A Microcosm Of Just About Every Type Of Desert Mountain Biking
If you’ve ridden in the desert a lot, you’ll notice that Enchanted Hills offers a bit of everything you’ve seen in your travels. There are smooth, groomed sections like you’d find at Brown’s Ranch in Scottsdale (though not quite as long). You’ll have some jagged, rubbly stuff like the Perl Charles (1A) Trail in Phoenix. There are some South Mountain-style dropoffs and ledges.
It’s really all good fun, if challenging. The toughest parts of my ride were the El Grupo Loop — Upper and a part of the Rock Wren Trail known as “F**K You, Hill” on Strava. Yes, it lives up to the name!
4. The Blue Trails Can Get Rough
On most trail systems, Blue Trails mean I can put my brain on autopilot and just motor most of the time. The Blue Trails here are tougher, with some rubbly stuff and ledges. The Green Trails here resemble most of the Brown’s Ranch trails I mentioned in earlier, minus the run time.
5. A Good Downcountry Full-Suspension Bike Is Probably Best
I have one mountain bike … a singlespeed. It was not all that home at Enchanted Hills. A downcountry full-suspension bike would better suit my abilities here. Of course, some might want to go for a full-blown trail bike.
Riders who are better than me could probably fare better than I did on a singlespeed. But I had to do some pushin’.
6. What I’ll Do For My Next Visit
Despite the occasional hiking or pushing, I had a great time. The scenery was beautiful and the trails were pretty solid. Next time, I’ll get started a bit earlier. And I’ll either ride more of the west side or see if I can dig up a decent full-suspension rental.
7. Potato Pancakes Make A Great Pre-Ride Breakfast
One thing is for sure: I was fueled up right for my ride. The Bisbee Breakfast Club serves some great potato pancakes with eggs and the breakfast meat of your choice. They also get their coffee supplied by the excellent — and adjoined — Ombre Coffee Roasters. Ombre does a fiiiiiine cappuccino.
Highly Recommended For Enchanted Hills Mountain Biking
Be sure you have enough water and electrolytes if you ride at Enchanted Hills. No matter what time of year, the dry desert air can wring you out. Some of the signage is a bit spotty, so it helps to have a mapping app like TrailForks on your smartphone.
It’s hard to complain about a mountain bike ride into a new-to-you spot after a good breakfast. It’s even better with great scenery, friendly trail users and trails that seem like mountain bikers were actually involved in their construction.
There’s something at Enchanted Hills for every level of mountain biker. If you’re more toward the beginner end of the spectrum, give yourself some extra time and just enjoy.
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