Best Of Tucson®

Best Mountain-Bike Trail

Chiva Falls/Chiva Loop Trail

4.8 miles up Redington Road

READERS' PICK: One reason the High Chiva Loop appeals to so many is that there are stretches of it for everyone with an off-road bike, from beginners to extremists. After the pavement ends on Redington Road, continue to the 4417 marker and turn right (across the cattle guard). There's plenty of designated parking there. The ride itself is 11.4 miles over varied terrain, which if memory serves is punctuated by loose rock, blazing sun, steep climbs and a growing sense of hopelessness that you'll never find the car again. For those who are either in good shape (there's a 1,700-foot elevation gain) or have the good sense to stay within their limits and enjoy the meandering single-track lower down (which is still 3,600 feet), this is a great adventure not far from the eastside city limits. (There are several other trails of varying difficulty besides Chiva in the Redington area, too.)

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Cactus Forest Trail, in Saguaro National Park East, 3693 S. Old Spanish Trail. The Cactus Forest Trail is the only off-road trail in the park that allows bicycles. To get there, park your vehicle in the Visitor's Center lot and follow the "loop road" on two-wheels, in the designated direction (it's one way). Keep going (and keep an eye out) for the Cactus Forest Trail marker on your left, about a mile and a half in. This trail bisects the area of desert trail circled by the paved loop road. You're halfway through the ride when you hit blacktop again. Turn around and come back, or take the longer loop route another four miles back to the park's entrance (which is also quite scenic). Either way, remember this mile-plus roller-coaster ride is a two-way, shared trail (that means foot as well as bike traffic, not to mention snakes, rabbits and other life forms) so keep your eyes peeled and temper your desire for speed with respectful caution. It's about 15 minutes each way, with ups and downs and twists and turns aplenty. There are a couple of harrowing corners, but it won't put any new hairs on your chest. Park hours are 7 a.m. to sunset.

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