Bicycling Magazine Tucson, AZ: Milagrosa Loop 

Testing stamina and skills, this 36-mile mountain bike epic rewards with a finishing descent along Tucson's famous La Milagrosa ridgeline trail.

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Author: Bicycling Magazine
Date: 20 Nov 2008 6:33:14 PM
Activity: Mountain Biking
State: Arizona (AZ)
Distance: 35.81 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 5455 ft
Total Loss: 5454 ft
Net Change: 1 ft
Difficulty: 9 / 10
Tags: Arizona, Tucson
Rating: Unrated   Rate it

After a brief paved warm-up, this counterclockwise loop climbs turns uphill along Redington Road. A majestic view of the Rincon Mountains awaits, as does a twisting, turning maze of forest road climbs. Loaded with ledges and drops, these challenging jeep roads continue toward the Arizona Trail at mile 16.

The next section is a favorite with mountain bikers—ten miles of singletrack bliss that snakes through some of the Cornado National Forests finest high-desert terrain. Leaving the Arizona Trail at a large cairn near mile 26, you'll follow Milagrosa's somewhat overgrown tread downhill toward the first of many technical challenges—a staircase drop that few ride on their first attempt.

Slickrock and switchbacks abound on Milagrosa, not to mention breathtaking views of Tucson, the Catalina Mountains and the deep canyons on either side of this spectacular ridge trail.

Note: There aren't any services on this epic loop, so be sure to bring water, food, and any basic repair tools you might need to complete the ride.

-Mapped by Scott Morris,

TO TRAILHEAD: The start point for this ride is the Circle K at 11271 East Tanque Verde Road, just east of Houghton. There is plenty of parking in the dirt lot under the powerlines on the Cirle K's east side.

Position Format: Datum:

Milagrosa Loop

Distance: 35.81 mi Points: 2935
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi

Points of Interest


Location: 32.251943, -110.751894
Park at the Circle K in Tanque Verde and stock up on snacks and fluids for (and after) the ride. There is plenty of parking and pre- and at the Circle K in Tanque Verde.


Location: 32.252370, -110.670712
Climbing begins in earnest as you enter Coronado National Forest near mile 5.


Location: 32.281545, -110.633526
Turn right at this 3-way junction onto FR-4417, this technical four wheel drive road begins with a 1-mile downhill.


Location: 32.275232, -110.603914
Turn left at this big junction to continue on FR-4417 toward a series of agonizing climbs.


Location: 32.290289, -110.590868
Turn right on FR-4424, a smoother road that follows a hillside contour eastward.


Location: 32.289709, -110.575633
Though you could turn left at this junction and meet this loop farther north, this mapped route turns right on FR-37, for a quick downhill toward a challenging climb.


Location: 32.281400, -110.576019
Pass through gates to cross two fence lines and continue left on the dirt road.


Location: 32.283287, -110.568724
Look for an Arizona Trail sign on the left and follow it onto singletrack.


Location: 32.306432, -110.574303
Cross Redington Road at mile 18.4. Continue north then west, following signs for the Arizona Trail.


Location: 32.316914, -110.592198
There are a couple of tight switchbacks on this downhill stretch of the Arizona Trail following the ride's high point at mile 19.3.


Location: 32.320975, -110.620694
Turn left at this junction of the Arizona Trail and Bellota Ranch Road. You'll turn downhill on the road for a minute, but turn right following Arizona Trail signs in the wash.


Location: 32.324928, -110.668845
A large rock cairn marks the right turn from the Arizona Trail to the the Milagrosa Trail. The downhill continues from here, but with a couple of serious technical challenges ahead.


Location: 32.300505, -110.711567
Look for the rock art alongside the trail just after the green gate at mile 30. There is just one mile of dirt remaining after this point.


Location: 32.298089, -110.720730
The trail crosses a wash and you'll have to walk around the gate onto Horsehead Road. Follow the paved road west.


Location: 32.298270, -110.738153
This left turn onto Soldier's Trail is the penultimate turn of the ride. You'll follow this nearly flat, smooth road 4-miles to loop's end.


Location: 32.308463, -110.687943
"The Gauntlet's big rocks, drops, and tight turns will challenge even the most seasoned riders. © Scott Morris

Warm Up

Location: 32.248450, -110.691891
This ride begins with a paved warm-up along Tanque Verde and Redington roads. © Scott Morris


Location: 32.252443, -110.670776
A large wooden sign marks the Coronado National Forest boundary. © Scott Morris

Century Plant

Location: 32.290470, -110.582371
A tall stalk of a century plant, which only grows every 25 years, dying after the effort. © Scott Morris


Location: 32.315644, -110.578938
Glorious ridgeline descending on the Arizona Trail <span style="font-size: 8pt;">© <a href="">Mike Curiak.</a></span>


Location: 32.316732, -110.584860
During the spring, watch for thistles on the Arizona Trail. <span style="font-size: 8pt;">© <a href="">Mike Curiak.</a></span>


Location: 32.318328, -110.635328
Classified as Threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, beware of disturbing desert tortoises on or alongside the trail. © Scott Morris

"The Lake"

Location: 32.321737, -110.647173
About 25 miles in, the "Lake" is more of a cow pond, but a possible source of water if you're deserate and have a filter on hand. © Scott Morris

Rock Stairs

Location: 32.320286, -110.668888
The first technical feature on Milagrosa is a tricky rock staircase. © Scott Morris


Location: 32.303747, -110.697727
Panoramic views of cliffs and saguaro highlight Milagrosa's ridgeline descent. © Scott Morris

Milagrosa Movie

Location: 32.303167, -110.704422
Ledges and drops abound on the Milagrosa Trail. © Scott Morris

Rock Art

Location: 32.300483, -110.711632
© Scott Morris


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