The Pyramid Peak mountain bike trails are not in the Top 10 of most-talked-about places to ride in Arizona. Really, probably not in the Top 50.
Not appearing on Trailforks.com and having little presence on Strava will do that. I didn’t even know about Pyramid Peak before catching an off-hand reference to it on Facebook.
As an East Sider, I rarely get to trails out west (though that’s been changing lately). I’m also hesitant to spend time driving someplace that might not have great trails.
But I got tired of wondering what’s out there. Late in April as the temperatures were steadily rising, I headed west to see what is going on with mountain biking at Pyramid Peak.
I found some interesting, lightly traveled trails. The few riders I saw were pretty friendly. It also wasn’t the stupidly expensive bike parade you’ll see at many other trails, which is also cool.
Let’s just say I liked it so much that I returned 7 days later with Stan, my longtime riding buddy. Though I usually ride alone, I figured he’d have a lot of fun … and would also tell me when I was exaggerating the fun factor.
As an added bonus, Stan possesses excellent geology knowledge. With all the signs of volcanic activity around, I figured he might share an interesting fact or two.
Where are the Pyramid Peak Mountain Bike Trails?
Pyramid Peak is just west of Interstate 17 and south of the Loop 303 freeway. It’s best accessed by grading west on Happy Valley Road; take that west to 51st Avenue and head north. You can park at the end along the road or at a park with some soccer fields.
Good news for those who have to drive a long way — there’s a portable toilet just before you have to hop over a concrete barrier to hit the trails.
Where to Ride at Pyramid Peak
With its lack of presence on Trailforks.com and only a bit of Strava segments, it’s hard to know what’s up with the Pyramid Peak mountain bike trails. Where are the good trails? What’s best for who?
Let’s see what I can do to help there.
When you first cross the barrier at the end of 51st Avenue, look to your left. There will be two singletrack trails that stand out. So far, I’ve headed out on the left one.
I Want My Mummy
For about 4 miles, you’ll be on a monorail of fun that is perfect for singlespeeds. It dips, dives and ducks its way through the desert, with a few steep drops into washes followed by equally steep climbs out. I’ve named this The Pharoah on Strava. (Everything I’m naming out here gets an ancient Egypt-themed name because we’re at Pyramid … though I suppose I could also go with Mayan, Aztec other pyramid-building civilizations.)
Resist the urge to turn left/south as you get toward the west end. That will lead you to a trail along the CAP canal. I can’t imagine you’ll like it much.
Fun Among the Boulders
OK, if you have a bike with a dropper seatpost and a long-travel fork, you’re in for a treat. The area circled in blue on my map is a maze of trails that weave around a bunch of granite boulders.
There are drop-offs and short steep climbs, not to mention all sorts of tight turns around said boulders.
Stan’s Pivot was perfect for this sort of thing. I haven’t seen Stan this happy since a guy in a blue muumuu tried to sit on my lap when we were at a bar in Flagstaff.
Solving the Eastern Conundrum
Going back east in any fun fashion is a bit of a challenge at Pyramid Peak — especially if you want to pile on mileage. My typical mountain bike ride averages about 30 miles. That’s hard to do at Pyramid Peak without either repeating — or dealing with some sandy, drab, desolate stretches of jeep road.
You could also swing a bit further south and look for a Strava segment called Hill Hugger, which is good fun in either direction.
But I see that big northeastern area, and I wonder what sort of goodies are hidden out there. For one, there are some amazing jumps (see the area circled in purple at the bottom right) on the northeast side of Pyramid Peak. I’m a bit too cowardly for most of it — I’m an XC singlespeed guy, after all.
But if you have decent big-air skills, these jumps are worth a look. And they weren’t crowded on a Sunday in April.
Best Singletrack to the North – so Far
After a dull slog on jeep roads, we found a nice singletrack (and we encountered some motorcycles here, too). It led straight to the jumps via a slight gain in elevation.
It was a nice change-up after the jeep roads. I hope that we find more like this on future visits.
Following my Egyptian theme, I called this one The Pharaoh. (Let my people ride!)
Other Good to Know Bits
While taking a quick break, Stan and I noticed something simultaneously and uttered in near unison something along the lines of “what the hell is that?!”
“That” was a huge amount of broken quartz scattered over a low hilltop. Spoke of it was milky and opaque, with other bits more shaped like shards and extremely clear. The density and amount made it look like the hill was covered in snow.
We found several other piles like it, along with a large quartz knob popping out of another hilltop. There are also plenty of signs of volcanic rock around – you can definitely see signs of lava flows.
We ran into some serious hike-a-bikes on the central (when viewed east to west) bits to the north. There were also a few sketchy downhills.
Also, there’s a trail that wraps around Pyramid Peak to the west. It’s pretty challenging. Know what you’re getting into.
One last thing: for some reason, it’s easy to get turned around a bit on the Pyramid Peak trails. There’s a weird concrete chute that heads up toward Deem Hills as you cross the canal. Remember where it is and use it as a reference.
Final Thoughts on Pyramid Peak Mountain Bike Trails
The big mystery, for me, is why there’s not more buzz about these trails. Apparently, some people feel bad naming them since they didn’t build them.
Really, that hasn’t stopped anyone at other trails. My advice — find the trails you like and get them into Strava and Trailforks.
There’s already plenty of videos on YouTube of the Pyramid Peak mountain bike trails, so it’s not like you’re divulging any secrets.
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