Black Canyon Trail
A world-class trail system in the Bradshaw Mountain foothills of central Arizona, the Black Canyon Trail has been stretched out to nearly 80 miles of flowy purpose-built singletrack trails that just begs for a multi-day trip. The Black Canyon Trail was designated as a National Recreation Trail in June 2008. This is a very prestigious honor, as only the best trails in the country are eligible for this classification.
This guided mountain bike trip starts with a couple of days of fun riding in McDowell State Park, where you will zip through the Saguaros and enjoy the sunshine, before heading north to start the Black Canyon Trail.
We begin our week with a shuttle to McDowell Mountain Regional Park. The park offers over 40 miles of mountain biking trails where we can ease into our week, test our skills a bit and warm up before we tackle our main event. This is the site of the famous Cactus Cup races of the 1990s and continues to be one of the area’s most fun places to ride. It’s hard to believe this 20,000 acre park is just outside of Phoenix. McDowell Mountain Regional Park has amazing majestic mountain views and our time spent here will be memorable. TOTAL MILEAGE: 12 - 22 miles
One of the more famous loops at McDowell is called the Competitive Track. The Long Loop of the track was designed for the average rider but is used by all. The Sport Loop is for intermediate riders and experts. The Technical Loop is for the expert rider. This portion of the track offers swooping turns, very technical descents, rugged terrain, and steep inclines. Each loop offers a variety of obstacles to test the rider’s skills. This competitive track is geared for mountain bikers who want to improve their technique, but for us it will just amount to a whole bunch of fun! With lots of options to choose from we can make this day as easy or hard as we like, knowing tomorrow we head off to the Black Canyon Trail. TOTAL MILEAGE: 10 - 24 miles
After a hearty breakfast we’ll break camp and shuttle north to the start of the Black Canyon Trail. Our start is just off Highway 69 near the town of Mayer in the Prescott National Forest and affords us some great views of what to expect as we head toward the Bradshaw Mountains. With a net downhill today, we’ll ride south through varying desert terrain inbetween the tiny towns of Cleator and Cordes and onto camp among the towering Saguaro cactus near Bumblebee. The trail is so well constructed that no matter what type of mountain bike you’re riding, you’re going to love it. TOTAL MILEAGE: 25 miles
As we head “on down the trail” the major geographic features include the deeply incised canyons of the Agua Fria River and the foothills of the Bradshaw Mountains. On today’s ride, passes and ridgelines will offer views east to Black Canyon City. Complementing this are the rugged landscapes and many flat topped mesas of Black Canyon. The trail itself continues to be as flowy and fun as yesterday, but with a few more technical challenges thrown in, not to mention a potentially exciting river crossing! TOTAL MILEAGE: 22 miles
Our final day on the Black Canyon Trail is really the heart and soul of the trail. Another river crossing, fantastic views and vast Saguaro forests round out the day as we transition from the rugged terrain of the higher elevation to the rolling hills of the Emery Henderson area. The closer we get to the end the flatter and faster the trail gets—which makes for a perfect finish. Our trip will end with a shuttle back to Phoenix where we will say our goodbyes. TOTAL MILEAGE: 22 miles
This tour contains some difficult riding on technical singletrack trails and a small amount of jeep roads. We will be without vehicle support during many sections of the ride. Itineraries are subject to change due to weather, road conditions, rider safety, and other factors which may affect the logistics of the adventures.
Riding Surface: Mostly singletrack. Includes packed sediment, some rocky and sandy sections and smooth dirt sections.
Overall Rating: Intermediate/Advanced
Technical Difficulty: Intermediate—rocky, loose and sometimes steep singletrack, some moderate exposure.
Physical Difficulty: Advanced— short but steep climbs, longer days and technical sections make this ride a challenging one.
Altitude: 1,000 - 4,000 feet
For travel logistics and a packing list, please download the complete trip itinerary.