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Name: The Chutes Author's Rating:
Author: Matt Marine Avg. User Rating: Not rated yet
Type: Bike Difficulty: (Medium). This trail has only a few difficult places where I have to walk my bike up short, steep, rocky hills. The climb out of the Chutes isn’t technically challenging, but it will get your heart pumping
Time: 45 minutes to 2 hours Region: SE Arizona
Length: 6.25 miles (loop) Elevation gain/loss/change: +362 / -362 ft / +0 ft (loop)
Type: Loop Avg Elevation: 3200 ft
Best time to go: fall, winter, 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: High
Hours of Operation: NA Last updated: February, 2010
Short Description: One of the most fun singletrack bike rides in southern Arizona
Geocaches: A few geocaches in the area. Golder Map. Cottonwoods Sentinels.
References / Contact Information: SDMB
Points of interest: The Chutes. Nice scenery
Special Considerations: Popular trail. May require a State Trust Land permit (see update on permit page).
How to get there: Take Oracle Rd. north out of Tucson until you reach Golder Ranch Rd. (just before you get into Catalina). Take a right on Golder. Keep driving on Golder for about 2 miles (through a four way stop sign, the bridge and up the hill) until the road turns to dirt. Directly on your right is a large dirt parking area. Park here (waypoint 001). Click here for map.

Trail Description

This is an awesome trail just north of Tucson. It’s part of the 50-year trail system and gets its name from a portion of the trail which is shaped like a chute or bobsled track. You use this trail to access The Boulders and Upper Boulders trails.

General Information and History

The Chutes are probably the most popular set of trails in NW Tucson. And for good reason. It’s got a little bit of everything. You can thrill to the downhill of the chutes, take it easy on some 4wd roads (my daughter and I ride these for practice) and enjoy beautiful scenery. It’s all there.

The trail, part of the 50-year trail that heads out from Catalina State park, is about 6 miles long as I ride it. The Chutes part of it comes a little more than half way through. It’s about a half mile of fun down hill, racing up and down short hills and tight turns in a half-pipe shaped trail. It always reminds me of going down a bobsled run.

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The Trail

The trail starts just across the cattle guard to the northeast. Take the single track until you reach waypoint 002. Bear right through the State Trust land sign and on what used to be a 4wd road. At waypoint 003 take a left on the single track. At waypoint 004 keep right on the main single track.

Ride the single track until you get to waypoint INT. Keep going straight, but remember this intersection, you’ll see it again on your way back. The trail is well signed, keep on the single track (crossing several 4wd roads) for a while until you reach waypoint 50DWN. You will see and old sign for the 50-year trail before you go down a fun, short downhill.

Keep riding on the single track until you go up a short, rocky hill and find a Y-intersection (waypoint LFT). I take a left here. Going straight will take a more direct route to the Chutes, but left is more fun (see shortcut on map. Also at Waypoint 007: straight is the direct route, left takes you to the road which leads to the chutes). Go down the small hill, through the wash and back up, then ride until you get to another old 4wd road (waypoint RT). Take a right on the road, then within a hundred feet or more you can take a left back on single track (waypoint 005). If you miss it, that’s okay, you can stay on the 4wd trail. Both take you to the top of the Chutes.

Ride until you reach waypoint CH on top of a small hill overlooking the Chutes. This is the really fun part of the trail. Take the roller coaster ride down the Chutes. There are one or two lesser ridden trails heading up and off to the right (those lead up to the Upper Boulder trail). For now, just stay on the main trail, heading down and curving slightly left.

Just before you reach the bottom (waypoint 006), take a left to go into and through the wash. Now it’s time to pay the piper. What goes down, must go back up. Climb out of the wash. There are two trails which converge at the top of the climb. I usually take the right one (it is the most popular). The left is a little more difficult.

After about 1/3 to ½ a mile, you’ll be at the top of the climb and reach a Y-intersection (waypoint RT2). The trail marker indicates going to the left. This will take you back to the Chutes if you want one more go at it or back the way you came. I take a right to make a different route back to the car. Take the left track at waypoint LT2.

Keep on the road and go straight when you reach waypoint ST. Part of the trail here follows an old 4wd trail. Ride until you reach a well used road (waypoint LT3). I take a left along the road here for about 50 feet until you find the single track off to the right (waypoint RT3).

Take a right and shortly you come to an intersection (waypoint INT). Remember, I said you’d be back here? Take a right and go back the way you came. Keep riding (past waypoint 004) and when you reach the old road (waypoint 003), instead of taking the road back the way you came before, go straight on the single track.

This is another really fun part of the trail. It’s a slow, steady decent that you can really get going on. Just be careful of horses and other riders coming up. Keep straight on the single track until you reach the graded dirt road (waypoint RD).

The single track trail directly ahead of you is the 50-year trail that leads down to Catalina State Park. Take a right on the dirt road and do the steady climb back to your car (waypoint 001).

Now, you’ve done the Chutes. Wasn’t that awesome?

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