Tucson Mountain Park, Tucson AZ

BEST FOR / Trail Running
8451 W McCain Loop, Tucson, AZ 85735, USA
Tucson Mountain

Parking: Plentiful at Starr Pass/Genser Trailhead, minimal at 36th St Trailhead
Bathrooms: Nope (there is a permanent port-a-potty about a quarter mile before you get to the Starr Pass trail head on the edge of the golf course!)
Water: No
Dogs: No
Bikes: Yes

Tucson Mountain Park sits just southwest of Downtown Tucson, spans 20,000 acres and has several entry trailheads. The easiest for us have been Starr Pass (also called Genser) and 36th Street. The Mountain Park is a popular maze of trails for mountain bikers, which baffles me because most of it is so technical I can’t imagine riding any of it. It’s fun out there, and some sections are faster and smoother but head out knowing you will be prancing and picking your way off and on as you explore the well marked web of trails.

A great 11 or 12 mile loop can be put together starting from either trailhead, linking Starr Pass, a newer unnamed trail (but with a sign pointing toward Explorer), Explorer, Sarasota, Yetman and Rock Wren. The west side is generally easier, and there are a ton of options to jump off on, taking you up to Gates Pass, or down toward the (currently closed to tourists) Old Tucson movie set where there are miles of more trails to navigate. Make the loop shorter by cutting across Little Cat, or skipping the Explorer section.

There are not any real extended climbs, but a couple of short, rocky pieces you may rather hike. Even without much elevation gain, the techy character of this area makes for a tiring and full-body workout.

For an easier day, try parking at the 36th street lot and explore the El Grupo loop, or peel off for an out and back on El Portal.

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