|Name: Honey Bee to Rail X (also called Primo & Nirvana)||Author's Rating:|
|Author: Matt Marine||Avg. User Rating: (based on one vote)|
|Type: Bike||Difficulty: (medium - based mainly on distance, but you can decide the length of ride easily on this trail). This trail can be done by beginning mountain bikers who want to get a taste of singletrack|
|Time: 1 - 3 hours||Region: SE Arizona|
|Length: 16 miles (all three loops, each one approx. 5 miles)||Elevation gain/loss/change: +733 / -733 ft / 0 ft (total)|
|Type: Loop||Avg Elevation: 3100 ft|
|Best time to go: fall, summer, spring||Fees: May require a State Trust Land permit (see update on permit page).|
|Fitness rating: Medium||Educational Merit: Low|
|Danger/fear rating: Low||Scenic Beauty: Medium|
|Hours of Operation: NA||Last updated: November, 2014|
|Short Description: This is an awesome, non-technical trail near Tucson (Oro Valley) that has miles of sweet, smooth and fast singletrack|
|Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area. Rail-X #1; Tugie's 5k|
|References / Contact Information: SDMB Mountain Biking; Singletracks|
|Points of interest: Some nice rock formations, desert scenery, just great mountain bike riding|
|Special Considerations: May require a State Trust Land permit (see update on permit page).|
|How to get there: SEE NOTE BELOW. From Tucson, head north on Oracle Road. Take a left onto Rancho Vistoso. Drive west for about 2.5 miles. Update: You can no longer park at the Mountain View Plaza on the north side of the street at Waypoint 001 - you may get towed. Do not park at the Quiet Rain Drive trail head. The local HOA has asked people not to park there and you will get ticketed by the Oro Valley Police Department. Until further notice, park at the official Honey Bee Parking area, just west of the trailhead. See comments from an update by Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists below. Click here for directions and a map.|
March 2016 Update: You can no longer park at the Mountain View Plaza on the north side of the street at Waypoint 001 - you may get towed. Do not park at the Quiet Rain Drive trail head. The local HOA has asked people not to park there and you will get ticketed by the Oro Valley Police Department. Until further notice, park at the official Honey Bee Parking area, just west of the trailhead. See comments from an update by Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists below.. This section of the trail is closed to motor vehicles.
This trail has been in the works for a long time and it's finally come of age. It begins near Honey Bee Canyon in Oro Valley and takes you north to the Rail X trail complex. The trail shown here is just part of a larger complex of trails that can be accessed with varying difficulty. This system of trails is also called the Primo and Nirvana trails.
An additional 5 miles have been added to the north end of this trail, making it one of the best trails in Tucson and almost all singletrack. It is a fairly easy and smooth trail. With no big climbs or technical areas, it's also a good place to ride for beginners to learn the craft. Don't get me wrong, there's some tight spots between the cactus, tight turns, fast down hills and a few short, heart pounding hills, which still make it a lot of fun for those who are not seeking a pure adrenaline rush. With it so close to town, this has become one of my favorite trails to ride.
This trail can be broken down into three different loops: the southern or lower loop, the middle loop and the northern or upper loop. Each one of these loops is roughly 5 miles. If you want to do a quick ride, to the lower loop. If you want a little more challenge, include the middle loop for about 10 miles. If you want to go all out, do the entire loop for 15+ miles. The BLUE lines on the map are the connector trails that you will ride if you want to do some of the individual loops.
Google Maps and Google Earth
GPS tracks for this adventure were recorded with My Tracks software on my Android cell phone. This is an awesome piece of free software that allows you to record GPS tracks, waypoints and historical data. It will tell you things like elevation gain, time history, average speed, etc. It will also let you take a tour (similar to playing a time accurate movie) of your track on Google Earth. You can send your tracks to friends or upload them to Google.
Click here to view this adventure's track on Google Maps.
You can also download a Google Earth movie (called a tour) of this adventure (must have Google Earth on your computer). Right click here to download the .klm file, then select "save target (or link) as..." For help on how to play the movie on Google Earth (not very intuitive), click here.
I don't know too much about the history of this area or how the trail came to be except that I met one of the trail stewards on a ride on what at the time wasn't much more than a cattle trail in the area. He told me that the City of Marana was trying to get more bike trails in the area and he worked on them with a few friends one day a week. It's paid off. The trail is in wonderful shape. One of the local newspapers ran an article on the trail a few months ago and traffic has really increased. I see more people here than I do while riding The Chutes.
Update: You can no longer park at the Mountain View Plaza on the north side of the street at Waypoint 001 - you may get towed. Do not park at the Quiet Rain Drive trail head. The local HOA has asked people not to park there and you will get ticketed by the Oro Valley Police Department. Until further notice, park at the official Honey Bee Parking area, just west of the trailhead. See comments from an update by Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists below.
You can start this trail from a few different points. I will detail starting from the southern end, which is how I usually ride it. Park at the official Honey Bee Trail parking area and ride the short distance along Rancho Vistoso to the trailhead at Waypoint 002.
Take a right off Rancho Vistoso at Quiet Rain Road. This is a gated community, but don't worry about it. Turn right onto the steep drive to the east just before you get to the gate (only about 75 feet in from Rancho Vistoso). This is a very short hill and it turns to dirt at the top. Turn left (north) onto the dirt power line road.
There will be houses on either side of you for a while. Don't worry, it gets better. At one point, you will see a wood post that points out that the "trail" goes down the hill into a wash (don't worry if you don't see the sign, it's easy to miss). Disregard, stay on the main road, unless you enjoy pedaling through deep sand. Enjoy the small hills and fast track until you get to the gate at Waypoint 003 in about 3/4 of a mile.
Go through the gate (actually to the bypass on the left) to enter into State Trust Land (you've got your permit, right?). Just before the next power pole, you will come to a singletrack trail on your right at Waypoint 004.
Now, you've got a choice to make. The trail does a series of three roughly equal loops. I usually go counterclockwise, but people do it clockwise also. These are the directions for doing the entire loop counterclockwise. You can also do the southern, middle or northern loop individually also.
Take a right onto the singletrack and do the loop counterclockwise. The trail gradually climbs and winds its way through a cactus forest (this is a fun gradual downhill if running the opposite direction). At 1.2 miles, keep straight. The path on your left will be the one you will be returning on at the end of the ride. After 1.7 miles, you will cross the main Jeep road at Waypoint 005. Cross the road, keeping straight on the singletrack.
Enjoy the singletrack as it continues to climb up a shallow ridge toward Batamote Wash. At 2.4 miles, you will come to a trail leading to the right at Waypoint 006. This is what some people call "The Secret Trail" though it is no longer a secret. To continue onto the larger loop, take a right onto the Secret Trail. If all you want to do is the southern or lower loop, keep straight.
This section of the trail continues a gradual climb toward the north. The trail is smooth, fun and easy. You will pass a nice rock formation on your left after another mile (Waypoint 010). Keep straight and ride for another 0.7 miles until you come to Edwin Road at Waypoint 011. This is a heavily used dirt road. You can decide whether you want to include the Upper Loop or just do the Middle Loop.
Middle Loop: If you want to only do the Middle Loop, take a left on Edwin Road (BLUE trail). Ride 1.38 miles along Edwin Road and take a left onto a Jeep trail at Waypoint 012. Go past the tank and berms on your right for 0.1 miles and take a left onto the singletrack at Waypoint 013.
Upper Loop: Cross Ediwn Road and continue on the singletrack to the northeast. The trail takes a sharp turn to the northwest after about 0.2 miles. Keep on the singletrack. You may cross a few faint Jeep trails in this area, keep to the singletrack.
After about 1.75 miles, the trail turns west and begins to follow a fence line on the north side. You will follow this fence line for another mile or so. When you have gone almost 3 miles from Edwin Road, you will come to another Jeep trail at Waypoint 011A. Take a right on the Jeep trail, then very quickly you will have a choice.
Shortcut: A singletrack will quickly head off the Jeep trail to your left. This is a shortcut, but it comes at a cost. After 0.2 miles you come to a corral at Waypoint 011C (Black Tank). The gate in the corral is locked. Most people lift their bikes over the concrete water tank that the fence splits. It is not a tall lift (you can stand on the concrete tank) The trail continues on the other side and heads down the hill to the left.
Corral Bypass: If you want a little more mileage and don't want to lift your bike over the fence, keep straight on the Jeep trail for about 1/2 a mile. You will cross two cattle guards. Not too long after the second, the singletrack will be on your left at Waypoint 011B. Head south on the singletrack until you reach the corral at Waypoint 011C. Note: the trail does not exactly follow the BLUE line as shown on the map. From Waypoint 011B, the trail heads directly to the corral at Waypoiont 011C. It does not take the small westward deviation as shown.
The toughest part of the trail is after Black Tank. You will come to a few small hills that require some decent speed and pedaling to get up. After about 0.4 miles from Black Tank you will reach the highest elevation of the ride. Now for the fun! As they say, "It's all down hill from here!"
Almost. A great deal of the trail is downhill and you can get up some speed/coast if you want. Just be careful of other bikers coming the other way, the corners are tight. Don't be going so fast you're going to plow into someone coming the other way.
Continue riding another 0.4 miles until you cross Edwin Road again at Waypoint 011D. At Edwin Road, cross the cattleguard immediately on your left, then take the singletrack immediately on your right. Keep riding on the singletrack and you will pass another windmill shortly (Crow Windmill). Keep going for 1.18 miles until you reach Indian Town Reservoir and some large berms at Waypoint 013. Keep on the singletrack past the Jeep trails.
There's a big berm to the Indian Town Reservoir on your right that we've played on with the bikes and I showed my daughter how to "jump". It's a fun place to play around, but be careful. Lot's of people use the area to shoot. I've heard that they have begun to enforce a "No Shooting" policy in the Rail X area. Here's a quick video that I did with my GoPro camera of us having fun here.
You will come to another Jeep trail after 0.22 miles. Keep straight and cross it. Ride some super fun downhill for 1.6 miles until you reach Waypoints 015 and 016 (roughly 0.1 to 0.2 miles from each other). These are two rock features that are fun to negotiate. There are at least two options. The path on the right for both is the easiest. The path on the left more difficult. Choose your level of fun. Both paths come back together quickly.
Ride another 0.3 miles until you come to the Jeep road at Waypoint 017. You will follow this road for about 0.2 miles. It can be sandy at times when you cross the wash. Sometimes the sand is deep.
When you reach Waypoint 007, you have two options. A left will take you on the BLUE connector trail back to Waypoint 006 (where you came in from), while going straight will complete the lower loop. I always go straight.
Keeping straight, ride 1.25 of fun downhill until you reach Waypoint 008, where the trail takes a sharp turn to the northeast. Soon after you cross the wash, you will climb up on of the longest hills on the lower loop, but it's not bad at all. 0.55 miles from Waypoint 008, you will reach the power line road at Waypoint 009.
Go straight across to stay on singletrack (or you can turn right to head down the power line road). If you go straight, follow the trail for 0.25 miles until you reach Waypoint 004A.
Now you're back on familiar ground. Take a right and head back the way you came in: 0.37 miles until you're back to the power line road. Take a left, go through the gate and ride back to the trail head. Head out Quiet Rain Drive, take Rancho Vistoso back to the parking area and you're done.
Wasn't that blast?!
Have fun and be safe!
March 2016 Update from Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists:
Honeybee Canyon/Tortolita Mountain Access Update:
As most mountain bikers in Tucson are already aware, there are a number of access issues going on right now at Honeybee Canyon in Oro Valley. Representatives from the MTB community are in touch with the respective stakeholders to try to find solutions. Here is an update of the current situations. Most of this information has already been posted, but we wanted to get everything in one place.
Parking Issues at 1171 E. Rancho Vistoso Blvd (Fast Rhino/Cop Shop):
First off, the property management who runs the commonly used parking area at 1171 E. Rancho Vistoso Blvd (sometimes called the “Cop Shop”) has, for the time being, prohibited non-customers from parking there 7 days a week. This has always been a popular place to park for folks using the Honeybee trails and, and since the Como Rd. access was closed off it has seen a huge spike in use. Numerous road cycling groups also use the lot to start and finish rides, sometimes having as many as 50 plus riders. There have been issues with folks parking there for years, mainly due to some local residents who were hostile to bikes, but things came to a head recently with business owners citing overuse of the lot during business hours, public nudity due to riders changing before and after rides, a recent bike demo day that was not cleared with the owners, and some riders urinating and even defecating at the lot.
Until further notice, please do not park at the parking lot at 1171 E. Rancho Vistoso Blvd. You will likely be towed. It is private property, and the owners are threatening to tow anyone who parks there for cycling purposes. Representatives from the cycling community are in contact with the property management company and are working hard to find solutions to maintain access, and we will update via Facebook and the internet as things progress. Please be respectful of the business owners at the Plaza; getting confrontational will not help us secure access.
If you want to ride at Honeybee, you still have some parking options. First, you can park at the official Honeybee Canyon Trailhead (directions are here: https://www.orovalleyaz.gov/parksan…/…/honey-bee-canyon-park). While there is limited parking here, there are also bathrooms and ramadas available for use. Please do not stage large group rides here. Second, you can park at Oro Valley Bikes at 12925 N Oracle Rd, 2.3 miles east of the Honeybee trails access point. There is plenty of parking at Oro Valley Bikes. It will add a few miles to your ride, but give you a nice warmup before getting on the dirt. And finally, you can drive a few more miles north to W. Edwin Rd, hang a left, and drive west to the Windmill. Edwin is a dirt road, but passable for SUV’s and most cars. Make sure to pick up an AZ State Land Dept. permit, as the Honeybee Trails and Edwin Rd. parking are on State Trust land. Large group rides should plan on parking at Oro Valley Bikes or on Edwin Rd.
Access Issues at the Quiet Rain Dr. Access for Honeybee Trails:
Another long-time problem area is the trail access via Quiet Rain Dr. off of Rancho Vistoso Blvd. The Quiet Rain access point uses a utility easement between two subdivisions, and while it is technically an easement it is also private property. In the past, there have been complaints about mountain bikers, conflicts with hikers and property owners, and even roofing nails found on the ground (presumably to damage tires and keep mountain bikers from using the trails). Recently, the HOA who oversees the utility easement put up a sign limiting use from dawn to dusk (i.e. no night riding), prohibiting any organized races, and asking cyclists to be courteous. While we are working with the HOA to find a solution, we ask that folks respect the HOA’s request to avoid night rides until things get sorted out. Representatives from the cycling community met with the HOA on 3/16/16 to start the dialogue about preserving access through the utility subdivision, and we will provide updates as we get them. If you want to night ride at Honeybee, please access the trails from W. Erwin Rd.
For both issues, representatives are also in touch with Oro Valley Parks and Rec, Oro Valley Police Department, and the Town of Oro Valley to find solutions and advocate for permanent trailhead access. The sad reality is that, although we all ride and love the Honeybee trails, they are un-sanctioned trails on State Trust land and there is no guaranteed right to use them.
We appreciate your patience while we get things sorted out!
March, 2015 Updated from SDMB Association:
This update is based on telephone conversations will with Oro Valley Police Department Sgt. Kranz (on 3/17/15), and with Oro Valley Director of Parks and Recreation, Kristy Diaz-Trahan (on 3/18/15)
THE SHORT OF IT:
• The utility easement/access trail (entrance located between Greenspan Place and Quiet Rain Drive), while privately held property, was granted as public access to the Town of Oro Valley in the 1960s and remains as such.
• While open to hikers, mountain bikers, etc., This easement is CLOSED FOR MOTOR VEHICLE USE (except by utility company) - including parking in the small area adjacent to Quiet Rain Drive, at the entrance to Honeybee Canyon Estates – DO NOT PARK HERE, OR ACCESS ASLD Land (if you want to drive in, use Rail X Road from Catalina). The HOA will be installing a gate to further restrict vehicles.
• DO NOT use the alternative access through the culvert off of Alamo Canyon Drive (the neighborhood street across from Sun City Blvd. from Mountain View Plaza) - while this has not been a problem until now, increased usage has raised a flag with that homeowners Association, and the access has been signed ”No Trespassing”. Please respect their request.
• Preferred public parking is at Mountain View Plaza, at the intersection of Rancho Vistoso Blvd. and Sun City Blvd. (Bank, OVPD Substation, Etc.). – Access the easement by riding your bike/walking west on Rancho Vistoso Blvd, and entering adjacent to the gates at Quiet Rain Drive (do not go through community security gates – trail starts up the dirt hill to the right of the gates)
• Alternative parking at Honeybee Canyon Park, approximately 1/3 mile to the west - however, please be respectful of leaving enough parking for hikers visiting that Park.
• Remember the land north of the current gated fence-line is Arizona State Trust Land – if you are using it, you should have an ASLD Permit
If you see any suspicious behavior, please contact 911 and request to be connected with the Oro Valley Police Department (there have been reports of items such as broken PVC imbedded in the trail, improvised wire fencing across the easement, videotaping of law-abiding citizens in order to harass them). These occurrences need to be documented.
PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF THIS ACCESS – IF YOU SEE OTHERS NOT FOLLOWING THE ABOVE, GENTLY CORRECT THEM.
There has arisen some question about access to the Tortolita Mountain Preserve Trails via Rancho Vistoso - here is the low down: I just got off the phone with Oro Valley Police Sgt. Kranz who gave me the following information:
The utility easement extending off of the North end of Rancho Vistoso Loop is an easement held by the Western Area Power Administration, it is not officially a public easement. The land in question, many years ago, was dedicated to the Town of Oro Valley by the Vistoso Homeowners Association (do not quote on exact name – it’s the property owners in question) to be designated as a public trail. In this regard, it has been dedicated as open space and has been designated as a trail in ways that we have all noted (crushed granite pathway, concrete benches, maintained garbage receptacles, and posts indicating “trail”).
The Sergeant indicated to me that the Homeowners Association has no plans underway, and they have no intention of restricting trail access to hikers and bicycles. Their main concern is the restriction of motor vehicle access (if indeed you have been driving in and parking anywhere along this utility easement, that is the problem. Do not park there, you will be cited.).
Sgt. Kranz has been speaking with certain individuals (one of whom was affirmed as “Jim”, who videotaped us a week or so ago). The sergeant indicated that it is the goal of these individuals to restrict all access… But again that is not the position of the Homeowners Association nor Oro Valley Police Department.
In other words, if you want to drive in to the State Land, get an Arizona State Land Trust permit and drive in via Rail X Rd. in north Catalina.
Sgt. Kranz affirmed that as long as we parked in public parking areas, such as the official Honeybee Trail Parking Lot (west of the trail access), or the public bank/police substation parking lot (east of the utility easement), and we rode our bikes or walked through the public areas of that easement that nobody will be cited for trespassing.
Please pay attention to posted signs. If you witness any suspicious behavior please contact 911 - for example last January there appeared to be an issue with a buried PVC pipe – these should be directed to the Oro Valley Police Department.
I am continuing to follow up on this with the Oro Valley parks and recreation director, and will advise based on that discussion.
Please share this information with those who frequent the trails.