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Best Mountain-Bike Trail

Starr Pass

READERS' PICK: West on St. Mary's from I-10, past Greasewood and Pima College, then a left turn on Starr Pass Boulevard. Take a left at the stop sign and then a right on the dirt road about a tenth of a mile ahead. Follow the yellow-dirt road past the condos. Park.

If you're smart, you were undressing on the way. Shorts, shoes, water, helmet, then click-click and you're off. Follow the rest of the yellow-dirt road about an eighth of a mile to a gated entrance to Tucson Mountain Park.

Start your computers at top of the hill.

A rock-n-roll downhill bottoms out at a wash. Continue the major trail until you reach a turn-off to the left with a sign reading "Starr Pass Trail Head 1.1 mi." Remember this intersection; you'll be seeing it on the way back.

Stay on what is clearly the major trail. Plow though a couple more washes and climb toward the pass. Cat Mountain's to your left.

At the top (1.36 miles into the ride) you get a great view of the valley. The descent from here is technical, rocky single-track again following the clearly major trail.

Go through gate and ride road along the fence. Then back into the park through another gate, then out another gate at a wash. This is easy rolling trail with a great view of the mountains. Re-enter that park at "Gate 5."

Continue now towards the hills, up a fun single-track which joins with Yetman Trail from the left as you ride the side of mountain.

Pop down into Yetman wash for the next couple of miles. The rocks, gravel and sand will test your balance skills...besides which, at this point your thighs are ready to explode.

Yes, the wash does end. Stay left at the next split in the trail. Sign will read "David Yetman Trail" on the left, and "Starr Pass" to the right. The next sign marks the completion of the loop: "Starr Pass Trail Head 1.1 mi."; again, stay left. Some yards after this sign will be the "36th Street Trail" sign and turn-off. Stay left. Bottoming out at a wash, you're about to climb back out of the first downhill (about .5 mi. to top). Hang tough: When you come around that last corner, your painful grimace will turn into a silly grin. You're out again, and the time on your computer reads only 40 minutes!

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP--TIE: Chiva Falls; Mt. Lemmon.

CLUE IN: Since most of our public lands around here are mountain ranges, it can be tough to find a mountain bike route that's not either straight up or straight down--or covered in hazardous loose rock. Up in Redington Pass, there's a route that uses The Arizona Trail and Forest Service Road 36 (going past Bellota Ranch Headquarters) that makes for one of the finest rides around. Keep in mind the HQ are on private property, and due the proper respect and distance.

Case History

1997 Winner: Sabino Canyon

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