Monday, January 17, 2022

The Biking Capital of the World! and Beep, Beep!

You know, Sparky loves to ride her bike. So she got all excited to find out that Tucson is the biking capital of the world! (Listed in several different places.) Miles and miles of biking trails, mountain biking, and trail riding. Sparky does not own a road bike, so any bike trails that take you out on the public roads and busy byways, are not for her. 

Tucson is a beautiful town, and the bike trails are no exception. Sparky decided to try The Loop Trail, a system of trails that were recently connected and completed in the last couple of years. Over 131 miles of PAVED asphalt with NO motorized vehicles allowed, so super safe riding! Much of the trail follows river beds and there are paved trails on BOTH sides of the riverbeds.

The nearest trailhead, the Julian Wash Trailhead at the Ray Schoonover Point, is within 2 mile drive of the Voyager RV Park. Caution: the trailhead parking lot is NOT designed for big trucks, especially duallys--that's us--a BIG 3500 Dodge Ram Laramie with dual rear wheels and extra wide rear fenders. Very difficult to pull in, out, and park without getting hemmed in, so Sparky had Eldo drop her off with her bike and she took off, first going east, then coming back to the trailhead and heading west, getting in about 24 miles total that way. The stone work and metal iron grate work along the trail is very beautiful. All the trail markers are weighted down with rocks indigenous to the area. See the wrought iron grate work at the bottom of the Julian Wash trailhead sign? 

A wash
There are VERY interesting features along the way. Big washes and very well engineered floodways and drainage ditches. A wash is a dry stream bed that floods and flows, dispersing water during heavy rains. They have an official MONSOON season in Tucson, from June 5th to September 30th so it's no wonder that the stream beds and gullies and drainage plains around the subdivisions are so carefully constructed with tons of rocks and deep depths. Bet the rains are really something!                                                    

Whether you head east or west at the Julian Wash point, you will encounter some artwork. In case you didn't know it was art, they painted the word "art" on the pavement in front of the installation. (!) This  entryway or arch, is one of Sparky's favorites on the trail so far.

There are two metal art pieces just as you get started along the Julian Wash Trail. The one on the other side across from this one, is different.
The mountains follow you wherever you go on the bike trail. Tucson has FOUR mountain ranges all around the city--the Santa Catalinas, the Santa Ritas, the Tucson Mountains, and the Rincon Mountains. The weather is fabulous during January--perfect temps for biking, low forties at night, sixties and low seventies during the day. The Loop Trail is not strenuous, there are little hilly parts, but much of it is fairly level. This photo below is riding back to Udall Park from the Loop Trail.

Sparky went out a second and third  time and biked 15 miles each time picking up another portion of the Loop trail near Udall Park, about a 25 minute drive down Kolb Rd. in city stop and go traffic, getting much closer to the mountains. It's one of Tucson's largest city parks. The gateway to the left, is at the corner to the entrance of the park. Sparky wishes she could say what direction to go out of the park to head down to pick up the Loop Trail, but she's so directionally challenged, she has no idea whether it was N, S, E, or W from the park. (It's a wonder she doesn't get lost on a linear trail! remarks E.) To that Sparky says, "He knows me too well!" She doesn't tell Eldo that sometimes she DOES get lost but doesn't tell him, haha. More artwork on this portion of the Loop trail. A beautiful mosaic bridge....

A close up of the mosaics...

Another better view of the extent of the mosaics along the bridge...

A shaded bridge.....

Art work on the cement bridge buttresses....

Another bridge art install...wonder what the story tells? Sparky will have to go looking for interpretative info about these art panels. They are beautiful, and some look familiar as far as Native American motifs.

Cautionary signs to make the ride more interesting to an out-of-towner....Wonder what venomous creatures they are talking about besides snakes?
Even the fencing along the sidewalk portions of the trail are beautiful....
The way that Tucson uses native materials for seating and their informative kiosks is wonderful.
Sparky saw a kiosk that showed how conservationists are helping the burrowing owl maintain its population through artificial burrows! Very cool!

And the best part of all? Besides the constant beautiful views? Sparky saw THREE roadrunners in one day! BEEP, BEEP! And yes, they have to watch out for coyotes. Sparky DID have her camera on one of her bike riding days so here they all their feathered finery. 

It was a really beautiful, safe ride on the Loop Trail. Sparky could do it every day, it's that cool and a great workout. Get maps online and get riding! We are loving Tucson, the desert is so different here than in other southwestern places that we have been. It could be the time of year, but we are finding the atmosphere and climate to be second to none here in Tucson. We hope to spend a lot more time next time in the Tucson area to explore and ride some more. See you later!


  1. Do you know if E-bikes are allowed on the paved bike trails? Your photos are great.

  2. I'm not sure. I have seen an Arizona law that says no e-bikes on federally run trails and properties, I have seen something about local ordinances prohibiting them on the Loop trail, but then mixed messages about yes, on certain portions. So I'm sorry, I don't really know. Call a local bike shop for info on that, I would suggest.