Tucson Mountain Park - Golden Gate Trail
When I got into the park I expected to find trailheads and maps. I did not really find that. It really seemed to be a kind of drive-thru attraction. I asked a stranger for info about finding the Golden Gate Trail, which had sounded like the best in the park from what I had heard. He gave me a clue, and I took off looking for any trail that headed off to the south.
A wide but steep and ledgy trail headed off from another scenic view parking area on the west side of Gates Pass, and I rode up that. After climbing hard for about a quarter mile, I came to a trail junction with signage! Golden Gate Trail took off to the south.
Right away it got technical; a descent down a series of stairs, steep and windey. I rode much of it, but every once in a while I took a humble weenie walk respecting the fact that I was alone and that I really do not want to visit a Tucson emergency room. Soon the wild technical drop leveled off, and it got to be a nice picturesque desert trail.
There were unmarked trail junctions happening all over. I took one of them up when I missed the line of stones that marked the real route and got up into a nest of brush, rock and cactus. When I decided to turn around and go back, I briefly found myself lost not even able to find the way I had come. It was kind of a surreal experience. Like me and my bike had just been dropped into the desert on a steep slope full of thorny obstacles.
When I found my way back to the trail, it quickly became a very fun, flowy experience for a couple of sweet miles.
Then Golden Gate ended at the road I had driven in on. I found another trail on the other side labeled Prospectors trail, so I took that. It was really nice, a little more rubbly than Golden Gate had been, but very rideable. Then it ended at a fence with a motorized vehicle barrier. On the other side was a hodge-podge of four-wheeler routes. Ick.
I turned around and rode back. At the stairs portion I started climbing the technical part. It was mostly hike-a-bike, but every once in a while I could do a completely anaerobic effort and make a small series of climbing stairs.
Tucson Mountain Park was a mixed bag; some wonderful terrain, some wonderful trail, but really uncivilized in terms of trail markings and information. Since then a friend has given me his old dog-eared copy of a local mtb trail map, and it makes Tucson Mountain Park's trail system much clearer, so I'll take another shot soon and update this page.
©Tom Purvis, 2007-2012