|Name: Ridge Trail (Casa Grande Mountain Park)||Author's Rating:|
|Author: Matt Marine||Avg. User Rating: (based on two votes)|
|Type: Bike||Difficulty: (medium)|
|Time: 2 - 4 hours||Region: Central Arizona|
|Length: 12 miles (out and back)||Elevation gain/loss/change: +1450 / -1450 ft / 0 ft (roundtrip)|
|Type: Out and back||Avg Elevation: 1600 ft|
|Best time to go: fall, winter, spring||Fees: NA|
|Fitness rating: Medium||Educational Merit: Low|
|Danger/fear rating: Medium||Scenic Beauty: Medium|
|Hours of Operation: Dawn to Dusk||Last updated: January, 2012|
|Short Description: A nice all singletrack ride along the side of the Casa Grande mountains|
|Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area. Dolphin LX; Smokey's Throne; On the Trail|
|References / Contact Information: MTBikeAZ.com; City of Casa Grande; Trailhead directions and park map|
|Points of interest: Lots of singletrack and varying difficulty|
|Special Considerations: New trail system, can be a little crowded on weekends|
|How to get there: The unofficial trailhead (Waypoint 001) is at the end of W. Tate road. From I-10, take exit 198 to Hwy 84 (Jimmie Kerr Boulevard) west for about 2.5 miles, turn left (south) on Pert Rd. Go under I-8 and take the left curve onto Tate road, then right. The "Unofficial" trailhead (Waypoint 001) is straight ahead a couple hundred feet where you can park on the east side of the dirt road (notice all the old picnic tables down in the wash on the right). You access the official Pert Rd trailhead, take a left on the dirt road just after you leave pavement. Follow this road for about 1/2 a mile until you reach a large formal parking area with port a-potties and signs (Waypoint 015). Click here for directions. You can also access the trail system from the Arica trailhead (though Google Maps doesn't do this correctly). Click here for directions and a map.|
This is a nice trail half way between Phoenix and Tucson. Located at the I-10 and I-8 junction at Casa Grande Mountain Park, this trail skirts the eastern foothills of the Casa Grande Mountain Range. Since my first ride here in 2010, they've done a lot of great work on the trail system. There's a nice official trailhead parking area, complete with trail maps and bathrooms. They've also put some signs up along the trails and made some nice new ones.
The Ridge Trail is one of these. It mostly follows the eastern side of the Casa Grande Mountains, about half way up. The trail is cut into the mountainside and if narrow trails with steep drop offs on one side bother you, this may not be the trail for you. Otherwise, you're in for a good ride. Unlike the lower trail, this ride is much smoother and flows better. It was beautiful in the early spring with the green grass on the mountainside and the saguaro keeping you company. If you start from the north, the ride south is mostly uphill and the ride back down is much faster (though I was a little disappointed that the trail didn't allow you to get a lot of speed on the return).
In 2007, the City of Casa Grande decided that creating biking and hiking trails were critical to the city of Casa Grande. This decision has started the development of over 10 miles of trails in the Casa Grande Mountain Park. This park is 1,025 acres and is described on the Casa Grande Mountain Park Project website as:
... a variety of choices including long or short loop trails, easy to challenging experiences, short and long range views and views of the city and of the desert. The Casa Grande Mountain Park Trail System promises to be a spectacular local and regional attraction for trail enthusiasts, wildlife watchers, and those looking for a natural respite from the City's growing urban environment.
This project was started in April, 2010 and I'm not sure they are there yet, but it has potential. The city supposedly hired trail builder Mark Flint to help design some of the mountain trails. I have only been on the intermediate portion of the trail. There is also an easier section that stays down in the valley floor and a more advanced section if you keep going when I turned around (see PDF from MTBikeAZ).
From the unofficial northern parking area, you can drive up the dirt road to Waypoint 014 and see the stone structures. Not sure what these were, but some of you may find these interesting.
You can access this trail system from a number of different spots. The first is the northernmost parking area (Waypoint 001). From the parking area, take the singletrack east as it start its slow climb up the northeastern side of the Casa Grande Mountain Range. Follow this trail around as you pass Waypoint 002 (access to the official parking area) and Waypoint 010. You can also park at the official Pert Rd parking area (Waypoint 015) and head up the trail to Waypoint 002 and 010.
Keep right at Waypoint 003 (a left here takes you to the lower Casa Grande trail). Keep on the upper trail as you follow along the eastern side of the mountain range.
There are numerous points which this trail intersects with the lower trail system. Usually, just keep to the higher trail. Fairly good signing will keep you on track. At Waypoint 011 you will ride on the lower trail for a short distance before you diverge and head back up the side of the mountain.
At Waypoint 012, you can take the trail to access the southern parking area (Arica trailhead). From this point, you can continue on the Ridge trail to the southern side of the mountains.
I stopped at Waypoint 013 while a friend of mine continued up the steep switchbacks at Waypoint 013a. These are very steep and rocky. He went down the backside of the mountain range to Waypoint013b and turned around. I believe there were many more miles of trail left. You could also loop around to the lower portion of the trail system at that point.
When you're ready, turn around and head back to the trailhead. The ride back is most of the grade is downhill.
Have fun and be safe!
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