One of the most frequently asked questions by those who come into the AOA bike rental shop in Scottsdale is: “What are the best mountain bike trails in Scottsdale?” On this page you will find three of the mountain bike areas and trails found within a short drive of the bike rental shop in North Scottsdale.
From AOA, Brown’s Ranch Trailhead is just a 15-20 minute drive north. This trailhead access an expansive network of diverse trails that make this one of our favorite areas to mountain bike ride in Scottsdale. Most of the trails are hard-packed, decomposed granite, allowing for stability and comfort or speed and excitement. From groomed desert singletrack perfect for an introductory Sonoran Desert mountain bike ride to flowy, windy and fast trails, you’ll be sure to enjoy the riding at Brown’s Ranch. Ask about AOA’s option for trailhead delivery to make your ride simpler.
Recommended Bike: Standard-Performance Hardtail like the Specialized Pitch Sport or the drop bar Salsa Cuthroat Apex 1
McDowell Mountain Regional Park has two great trail networks with something for everyone to ride on. Beginners can ride short loops or out-and-backs and those looking for more of a challenge can add some distance by checking out the fast, directional trails of the McDowell Competitive Track.
If you take the Pemberton Trail, get ready to work hard and play hard. You’ll start the ride clockwise up a long, gradual climb on nice singletrack through the McDowell Mountains with monster-sized saguaros on either side of the trail. At the halfway point it’s time to play. Ride downhill on rewarding high speed double track all the way back to the parking lot. Other local favorite trails include the rocky climb up Dixie Mine on the southern side of the Pemberton Loop or a fun detour up the “Scenic Trail” beginning and ending at the Pemberton trailhead.
Recommended Bike: Performance-High Performance Full Suspension like the Giant Trance 2 27.5
Desert Park Trail Loop: While trails off of the Gateway Trailhead are only a 1.5 mile ride from the AOA office, they are not a “ride in the park.” If highly technical, steep, and rocky trails are your cup of tea, Gateway may be what you are looking for. If your preference is not for challenge and chunk, this is not the ride for you. The Desert Park Trail Loop begins with a rocky climb and provides access to Gateway Loop Trail, Windgate Pass Trail and Tom’s Thumb Trail. Ride a loop or an out-and-back, either way, you’ll have a rewarding (and bumpy) downhill ride on your return. Try not to get distracted by the McDowell Mountains towering around you!
There are many great and equally challenging options to try from Gateway. Take Paradise Trail south to the Taliesin-Quartz Trail Loop or build a bigger challenge and hit the Double Bypass over Windgate Pass to the east and then back west over Bell Pass.
Distance: 5.9 miles (Desert Park to Gateway loop clockwise)
Difficulty: Advanced (Not for beginners)
Recommended Bike: Performance-High Performance Full Suspension like the Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon 3 29 or the Specialized Stumpjumper Comp Carbon 29
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If you’re looking to ride through the desert terrain of Scottsdale, AOA will have a mountain bike tuned and ready for you to ride. Choose your route, your rental and start digging!