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Best Places to Mountain Bike in Southern Gila County, Arizona

The best thing about mountain biking in Gila County, Arizona is how each trail takes your breath away — not just from all the uphill pedaling, but how almost all the trails wind their way around at some point to a vista.

Overlooks at the end of first-class mountain bike trails include the 200-mile view from on top of the Pinal Mountains or the vista overlooking the rugged Highline Trail. In then Southern part of the Pinal Mountains you are able to rise over Globe as the mountains offer single track trails through stunning pine forests with amazing flora and fauna seldom found.

Luckily, you don’t have to be an expert rider to witness these sights. Trails spread out across terrains suitable for every level of expertise. From the rocky trails found around Payson to the trails along the Rim, which meander through grassy meadows and hug lake shores. To the chaparral and pinyon-juniper hills nestled just outside of Globe, Arizona. Gila County may just be the best kept Mountain Biking secret in Arizona.


Globe, Arizona - Mountain Bike Trails


Bobtail Ridge This is an extreme downhill single track in a state of disrepair but it has absolutely stunning views of the valley below. Difficulty Level: Very Difficult




Check Dam Trail


The Check Dam Trail #190 serves as a connector between the Sixshooter Trail #197 and the Tollroad Trail #200. It is one of several trails that criss-cross the northern foothills of the Pinal Mountains, south of Globe. The Check Dam Trail was named for the erosion control dams constructed in the area by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930's. There really isn't anything exciting about this trail, other than the views of the high Pinal Peaks above and a windmill. This trail could be used to create a loop hike by using the Tollroad #200, Una Del Oso #201, and Sixshooter #197 trails in conjunction with Forest Road #112. Two trailheads access the Check Dam Trail: Icehouse C.C.C. and Tollroad. Total mileage given includes the one mile round trip on the Sixshooter Trail to access the Check Dam Trail. Difficulty Level: Moderate



East Mountain Trail


Pretty fun trail with stunning views, extremely dry moon dust, tons of loose off camber single track. Switchbacks on the last stage are steep and very narrow. This trail is not traveled often so it is overgrown and plenty of downed trees. Difficulty Level: Moderate



Ferndell Trail


Beginning at the Pinal Peak Trailhead at the end of forest road 651F, the Ferndell Trail leaves the north side of the parking lot, and enters a small burned area of short locust trees and gambel oaks. The trail begins to descend past rounded boulders of lichen covered granite as it leaves the burned area, and soon comes to the first aspen grove on the left side of the trail. Beyond the aspen grove, the trail continues north and west through a forest of rocky mountain maple, gambel oak, and fir, with a fair amount of aspen. A few short breaks in the forest cover offer some glimpses down Sixshooter Canyon. At the 0.25 mile point, the Ferndell Trail encounters a side trail on the left that heads uphill to the Upper Pinal Campground. Now on the north side of Pinal Peak, the fern shrouded Ferndell Trail makes a short downhill drop before leveling out. As the trail contours along through the shady forest, it becomes an old road, and passes another grove of tall aspens, mixed with maple trees. Keep going straight where an old road crosses a short distance later. Soon you will arrive at the junction with the scenic Sixshooter Trail. Just past the Sixshooter junction, the trail passes an old rock foundation, and then a locked gate, before coming to an end at the parking area of the Ferndell Trailhead (0.8 miles one way). Somewhere in this area is Ferndell Spring. There is a open meadow like area on the south side of the trailhead here, where new aspen shoots abound. Return the way you came, or create a loop by taking one of the branches of road 651 back to the Pinal Peak Trailhead. Difficulty Level: Moderate



Icehouse Canyon Trail


The Icehouse Trail itself is 6 miles of almost non-stop downhill, descending 2000 vertical feet. There are occasional very short gentle climbs to keep you honest. Intermittent pumice boulders situated in the trail surface raise the overall technical level to upper-intermediate. The final 1/3-mile plunge off the mesa is advanced technical and requires good skills. Those who want to earn their vertical -- or who don't have a shuttle -- can ride up Cottonwood Road for an 18-mile loop. The 2000 vertical of climbing occurs over 10 miles (with some up-and-down added) on graded dirt road, so it's basically just a long cruise to the upper trailhead. After the first mile, the Cottonwood Road surface turns to dirt. It becomes more narrow and rough after passing the Broken Mesa trailhead. Make sure you have loaded the trail gps track on your device.... The start is very difficult to find, and there are no signs above the Broken Mesa/Icehouse trail junction. It is also very easy to lose the trail in the upper sections. Beware that this appears to be a user-created trail, and mostly goes directly down the fall line, which means that it has become a watercourse and is now (in 2018) a rutted rocky experience. Difficulty Level: Very Difficult



Kellner Canyon Trail


The Kellner Canyon Trail #242 is one of a group of four main trails climbing the north slope of Mt. Pinal. The elevation and north facing slopes combine to create a surprisingly lush alpine microenvironment and some very enjoyable mountain biking experiences. The stands of Aspen near the top may be the closest to the Phoenix area to be found. If you can catch this area when the leaves are turning, it just doesn't get much better. Although some old mine shafts still dot the area, it is noted mainly for its logging history. Many of the trails, and this trail in particular, are remnants of old logging roads and ruins are numerous. The Kellner Canyon Trail, like the others in the area, disguises a real workout with relaxing beauty. All of the trails generally start at the same 4500' elevation trailhead and finish near the top of the mountain at over 7500'. Of the four main trails, this one does top out a little further west than the others on FR651 at only about 7200'. These trails are best enjoyed as a one-way downhill via car shuttle. This trail and the Sixshooter #197 are quite possibly the being the two best for biking. It is quite wide and well maintained for most of its length. Difficulty Level: Very Difficult




Six Shooter Trail


Downhill big travel ride. At times there's a running stream early near the top. Wear your pads and attack the downhill ride. Big temperature changes between top and bottom, 15-20 degrees! The Trail starts off as winding singletrack, includes a short hill climb, then lots of rocks gardens. Singletrack lasts about 8.5 miles, then rest is a dirt/paved road back to Forest Service station in Globe. Great ride in the fall with amazing color. Difficulty Level: Difficult


Squaw Spring Trail


Squaw Spring features a very cool "staircase" of drainage logs near the top but is otherwise pretty smooth. Amazingly beautiful in the spring and fall. This trail is a fun ride. This trail is easy to loose so be careful and on the look out. Difficulty Level: Very Difficult


Telephone Trail The Telephone Trail #192 leaves the west side of the large Icehouse CCC Recreation Site / trailhead. From the sign, proceed through some manzanita scrub and across a forest road for about .2mi to the signed Icehouse Tr/198 intersection. Remain straight on #192. From here to the Doghouse Spring area, the two trails diverge with the Telephone following the east side of the canyon offering some views of the Icehouse Tr. on the opposite side. Between the two, the Telephone offers superior scenery and a friendlier layout for the climb. The climb is a healthy one and begins up through wide tunnels of manzanita and then into shady forest where it begins to ease up. At about two miles, the trail once again merges with the Icehouse/198 at Doghouse Spring. This is a beautiful little spot with a water filled hole in the middle of the trail and some old relics lying about. The two trails run together here for only about 200' where the Telephone quickly departs again up the east slope to connect over to the Sixshooter Trail. From the sign post head up the trail where it quickly doubles back to the north as it climbs the slope to the top of the ridge. Here the manzanita returns and the trail again doubles back at about 3 miles to essentially climb the spine of the ridge for a ways before heading along the west slope into Sixshooter Canyon. Be careful in spots to follow the most worn trail and look for small FS signs to help point the way. There are some maintenance roads for the underground power line that intersect in spots with this trail. As you approach the bottom of Sixshooter Canyon the forest thickens from chaparral to shady pine. Just prior to the intersection with Sixshooter/197, look for some ruins on the right. These are the remains of an old sawmill. Also in the immediate area are an old spring and two old mine shafts just a few yards north on #197. The Telephone Trail officially ends here, but leaves you with several options. There are two worth recommendation: You can continue up the Icehouse Trail just less than one "long & steep", but beautiful mile to the top at Ferndell Spring. Then on the way back down loop onto the beautiful cruising Sixshooter trail to the bottom. Difficulty Level: Very Difficult


Tollroad Trail


The Toll Road Trail #200 climbs the northern foothills of the Pinal Mountains south of Globe, Arizona. Starting in the high desert, this trail terminates in the tall pines of upper Pinal Creek canyon. The Toll Road Trail follows the route of an 1883 toll road that was built to provide access to the Pioneer Mining District on the south side of the Pinals. With three other trails connecting to it, the Toll Road Trail provides opportunities for loop hikes as well. This trail can be loose and fast in some sections also very tight and technical in others. Very overgrown and about a dozen downed trees. It's very easy to loose the trail so follow the stacked rocks. Difficulty Level: Very Difficult



For more places to mountain bike throughout Gila County visit www.discovergilacounty.com/mountain-biking


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