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Name: 24 Hour Trail Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: (based on two votes)
Type: Bike Difficulty: (Medium)
Time: 2 - 4 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length: 15.0 miles (total loop); 8.0 (half loop) Elevation gain/loss/change: +643 / -643 ft / +0 ft (total loop)
Type: Figure eight loop Avg Elevation: 3800 ft
Best time to go: fall, spring, winter (not February) Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Medium Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating: Low Scenic Beauty: Medium
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: December, 2010
Short Description: An awesome, fairly non-technical ride that's just a bunch of fun
Geocaches:Tons of cool geocaches around. Here's just a few. Welcome to Golf!; Arch(ie) Bunker Cache
References / Contact Information: Epic Rides 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo
Points of interest: Short downhill slide. The Seven Witches. Two dog grave sites.
Special Considerations: May require a State Trust Land permit (see update on permit page).The 24-hour race runs here every February (can be busy during the month or so leading up to the race).
How to get there: Drive north of Tucson on highway 77, past the small town of Catalina. Keep right on highway 77 heading toward Mammoth past the turnoff to Florence (highway 79). Approximately 5 miles after this turnoff, turn left on Willow Springs Road (denoted by green highway sign). Willow Springs Road is a dirt road which is usually in very good condition. Exception, if it has rained recently, it can get VERY muddy. I wouldn’t drive my vehicle on this road after a recent hard rain. Drive about 6.5 miles straight on. Just past the arch denoting Willow springs, take a left on a dirt track that leads to a small dirt parking area after about 50 yards (Waypoint 001). This is the starting point. Click here for directions.

Trail Description

This is one of my favorite bike trails around Tucson. It’s located north of Tucson between Catalina and Oracle and gets its name from a big race that’s held there every mid-February. These INSANE mountain bikers race for 24 hours. Some do it alone, some with a team (for more information on the race, click here).

Although this trail doesn’t have any significant obstacles and is easy technically, it is very narrow in places and you need to weave your way through prickly pear and jumping cholla. No really steep hills. One long, slow climb in the lower loop and then there’s the seven witches. Not bad alone, but all seven can get you tired. And one heart pounding descent down a rock cliff (the rock slide), but this can be bypassed

General Information and History

I find this trail one of the better, non-technical and fun trails around Tucson. My only complaint is it takes a while to drive too. But that’s also a blessing in disguise. Most weekends (except for those leading up to the race) you’ll find that you’ll be alone on the trail. A great place to get away from the crowds.

The trailhead I recommend is different from that used for the race. From where I start, the trail is essentially a figure eight, crossing approximately in the middle of the ride. That way, you can do the lower (easier) part of the loop (approximately 8 miles) if you want, or if you’re feeling good, do the entire loop (approximately 15 miles).

If you’re planning on doing this trail for the first time, I would recommend using a GPS or doing it with someone who has ridden it before. It can be confusing at times with many different roads branching off (some which you take, some you don’t).

This trail is the spot for a 24 hour event that's been run for over ten years. It's one of the largest 24 biking events in the world (see Epic Rides). If you don't know, a 24 event is where people race for 24 hours (some as individuals, some on teams). I think it's insane, but some people love it.

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The Trail

From the starting point, head out NE on the single-track. It takes you through a series of small rolling hills and washes. Lot’s of fun! After a large wash, the trail blends into a dirt road. Stay on the dirt road for less than a quarter mile before the trail angles off to the left (Waypoint 005) at the beginning of a small hill. Careful: this is an easy turn to miss. Shortly, you will start a long, slow climb under the high power electrical lines and up to the saddle. On your way you’ll pass graves of two dogs who reportedly died while running with their owners.

Now comes the fun part of the lower loop (just after Waypoint 09). A long downhill run through a series of rock outcroppings and narrow washes. Lots of fun. You can get some good speed on this section of the trail. Just before Waypoint 011, the trail splits for a short time. To your right, the trail goes around the rocks. To the left, you can ride up the rocks, then down a fifteen-foot steep rock wall called the rock slide. Both trails get you to the same place: a wide-open space that it used for the start and finish line for the 24-hour race (Waypoint 011).

Another hard to find single track leads to the west in the wide-open space used for the race. You cross through a road and a small cattle tank, then after a shallow downhill you come across a corral and large pond. A road is a couple hundred feet directly in front of you. This is where the figure eight crosses in the middle (Waypoint 012).

If you want to do the entire figure eight, take a right on the road. This road has seven hills called the seven witches (not the actual name, but it rhymes with it :-). Go straight at Waypoint 014 (near the radio tower). At Waypoint 015, take a left on single track (you can either go around the fence or through the gate here).

This part of the ride is fun, with lots of small dips and rolling hills. You will pass another corral (Waypoint 016). Take a hard left at Waypoint 017. Pass another gate near Waypoint 018, then a left on the dirt road at Waypoint 019. Go through another gate at Waypoint 020. At Waypoint 021, take a right on the single track. This is another fun part of the trail, fast and easy.

This single track dumps you out on the road (Waypoint 022) just east of where you picked it up before (at the figure eight crossing). Go through the gate and up the small hill. You can either take the road all the way back to your car (the green optional route at Waypoint 023), or take a left at the yellow gas sign and ride the single track.

If you're tired, the road is the fast, easy way back. If you've got more left, take the singletrack. It's got some fun dips and turns the last half of the trail.

Either way, I'm sure you've enjoyed the 24-hour trail as much as I have. Now, think about riding this trail for 24 hours straight. Then you’ll be ready for the next 24-hour race!

Have fun and be safe!

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