- 12 miles
- Aerobic Difficulty:
- Time To Allow:
- 2 - 3 hours
- Trailhead Elevation:
- 1300 feet
- All Year
The National Trail is located within the popular South Mountain Park Complex of Metro Phoenix, which at 16,000 acres ranks as the largest city park in the country. The National Trail offers advanced level riding in a Sonoran desert setting, defined by difficult climbs over rocky terrain and technical downhills with numerous rock drop-offs that may have to be portaged by many bikers.
The National Trail begins with a one-mile warm-up ride on a fire road from the parking area to the trailhead, just enough of a spin to get the muscles primed for the technical climbs ahead. The terrain on the National Trail is very rocky and it is helpful to have at least an intermediate level skill set here since there are multitudes of ledges and rock outcroppings that must be navigated through. Several more technical sections along the National trail’s length may require a dismount and a walk for all but the most skilled bikers.
Views improve as elevation is gained on the National Trail, passing by the Buena Vista lookout and over Telegraph Pass area, eventually climbing 1200 feet to its highest point at the San Juan parking area. Once the climb is through, riders have several options for the descent, including taking the National Trail back down, choosing from several other expert level downhill trails that originate at this location or riding down the paved San Juan roadway along a series of streets back to the trailhead. The National Trail is best ridden during fall winter and spring due to the punishing heat of Phoenix during summer.
Time To Allow:
Dependant on skill level
South Mountain complex is a series of trails that can be intermixed to create longer or shorter rides. Trail difficulty ranges from moderate to extreme. Riders should be in good physical condition, ride with partners especially when unfamiliar with terrain and bring plenty of water when riding in the desert due to the harsh nature of this environment.
Map + Directions
To access the Pima Canyon Trailhead take I-10 eastbound from downtown Phoenix. Take Exit 153 48th Street/Broadway East and turn southbound on 48th Street. After about 3 miles look for Pima Canyon parking area at junction of 48th street and Guadalupe Rd. Parking is at a premium in this area due to the popularity of the South Mountain trails. The Phoenix Municipality asks visitors to refrain from parking off the roadway as this causes erosion and damage to the natural habitat. National trail trailhead is accessed by a 1.2 mile ride westbound on a fire road that starts at the parking area. Follow the signs once in the complex.