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Name: Tortilita Preserve at Dove Mountain Author's Rating: (see note in trail information for reason)
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: Bike Difficulty: (Learner). The trail is all singletrack that’s fairly wide, with few slightly technical sections and no long, steep hills. It does have a ton of sand, but most of it isn’t deep. It is fairly long for a beginner trail
Time: 1 - 3 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length: 9 miles (counterclockwise loop) Elevation gain/loss/change: +483 / -483 ft / +0 ft (loop)
Type: Loop Avg Elevation: 2500 ft
Best time to go: fall, winter, spring Fees: NA
Fitness rating: Medium Educational Merit: Low
Danger/fear rating:Low Scenic Beauty: Low
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: November, 2010
Short Description: An easy (and fairly boring) ride in a sandy portion of NW Tucson.
Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area. Palo Verde Tunnel; Waldo's 3k
References / Contact Information: Town of Marana; SDMB;
Points of interest: Dove Mountain Resort. Easy, beginner's trail.
Special Considerations: May require a State Trust Land permit (see update on permit page).
How to get there: The trailhead (Waypoint 001) is about 100 yards beyond a gate at the end of Moore Rd and Wild Burro Rd. Open the gate (make sure you have your State Trust Land permit), drive about 100 yards and you’ll see the opening in the fence to the right (north) and the signs for the trail. Click here for directions. .

Trail Description

This is an easy trail that’s close to Tucson and can be done by fit beginners. Located near the Dove Mountain resort on Tangerine, it’s within easy reach for a quick ride by those residing on the northwest side of town. That’s the good news. The bad news: it’s a sandy and probably going to be a fairly boring ride for anyone with any kind of mountain biking experience.

General Information and History

This trail is part of the Tortolita Preserve and is managed by the Town of Marana Parks department. The trail’s about 9 miles long and skirts the western edges of the Dove Mountain resort and golf course.

I’d been reluctant to ride this trail for so long because I’d heard that it’s quite sandy. And I hate riding in sand. Although its reputation is well-deserved, it wasn’t as bad as I had envisioned.

Here’s my thoughts on the sand out there:
I would say that about 70% of the trail has a thin layer of sand covering it. This doesn’t make it unrideable, just annoying and slow. I wanted to get up some speed on the shallow descent on the back side, but between the sand making the tire’s grip treacherous and the multitude of sharp corners, I wasn’t able to. Also, every hundred yards or so, you will cross small washes. Most of these have a little deeper sand in them, but aren’t a problem crossing. Again, it just slows you down and they are annoying. The last third of the trail has wider, deeper sand washes in which you’ll probably have to walk your bike through (I walked my bike through about three of these). Again, the sand doesn’t make this trail unrideable, just irritating.

A good thing about this trail, is that even with the sand, this could be a good trail for beginners who want to get a feel for riding singletrack (and it’s all singletrack). There are few slightly technical sections for beginners that they may be intimidated by. There are no long, steep hills (only a few short, steep hills about ten feet in height going down and climbing out of washes). This trail does have LONG gradual hills. The bad thing for beginners on this trail is its length. At over 9 miles, it can be too much for them (especially young ones). And there are no shortcuts back to the trailhead if one gets tired. I would recommend the Bunny Loop at Fantasy Island or Rail X for beginners instead.

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The Trail

From the parking area, head counterclockwise around the loop. It’s set up for bikers to do the trail counterclockwise while hikers go clockwise around the loop.

You’ll climb up a gradual slope as you head north. Right away, you’ll get a taste for the sand along the majority of the trail. If you don’t care for the amount of sand here, go back to your car. It only gets worse.

You’ll notice the eastern fence around Waypoint 002, just before you make a turn to the east. Around Waypoint 003, you'll turn north again and see some homes off to the east. Keep grinding your way through the sand and up the grade until you reach Waypoint 004. This is the northeastern corner of the loop and the highest point of the trail.

Start down the gradual grade to the west. It would be nice to get up some good speed here, but the sand and tight corners didn’t allow me to do so. Bummer. I wonder if the trail was designed with all the tight corners so mountain bikers couldn’t go too fast (and therefore not plow into a hiker coming in the opposite direction)?

Keep straight at semi-fun wash crossing at Waypoint 005. At Waypoint 006, you’ll notice Vista Lake and the golf course to the north. Watch out for flying golf balls :-).

This part of the trail was the most enjoyable for me. It was the least sandy, had some fun little dips in and out of washes and a few rocks you could hop over. Too bad it didn’t last long.

Waypoint 007 gives you a good idea of the wide washes you’ll be crossing from here on out. This one is easier than the ones coming up. At Waypoint 008, you'll be riding through a small saguaro forest. This used to be a tight squeeze through two saguaros, but the trail has been modified to bypass them.

You'll head south at Waypoint 009. This last few miles is where you'll be crossing a bunch of flat, sandy washes. Most can be ridden all the way through, but they are a pain.

Then at Waypoint 010, you’ve reached the bottom of the grade and now it’s time to climb back up to the trailhead to the east. Pedal hard through the washes and you’re done. That was a quick 9 miles.

Have fun and be safe!

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