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No Clue Crew
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Embarrassing to admit since I live right here, but I have very little knowledge about the McDowell trail system.

What I have ridden, I didn't think was all that great, but I suspect I'm missing the best stuff. I'm looking for a fun SS route.

Probably easier to tell you what spots I know: Anytime I've ridden McDowells, I've either parked at the golf course off 105 in McDowell Mountain Ranch or at 124th or 128th and Via Linda. So I've typically ridden Taliesin/Lost Dog/Etc. as a loop.

What am I missing? Please share your favorite loop or out/back as well as where you park, etc. Again, I'll mostly be looking to ride SS and not a sufferfest.

Thanks.
 

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Pima Dynamite. Not exactly near you but go north on Pima, right on Dynamite, pass the golf course and park on your right. Entrance is near some electric lines (as I remember). I rode it once and thought it would be really fun on an SS.
 

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No Clue Crew
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Very familiar with MM Park, not what I'm looking to ride. Was hoping for a new route in the McDowells proper, but not all the way up to Pima/Dynamite.
 

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livin' the dream......
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If you park at Gateway TH or Village Parking lot (Thompson Peak and Bell Rd) you will be climbing pretty much right away. I recommend a clockwise loop from Gateway that takes you up Desert Park to Windgate Pass and down Gateway loop back to the TH for start. That is roughly a 7 mile loop with about 800 ft. of climbing. You can add on from there, but this loop at least puts you up on that part of the trail system gives you a sample with out committing to a bigger loop (yet). I ride with SS guys there sometime, and think they run 32x20? RandyHarris or Raybum can better answer that part!!
 

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No Clue Crew
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Perfect. That's what I was looking for. I know the intersection (Bell/Thompson Peak), but not familiar with a trailhead there. Is it north of Bell?
 

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I think riding Gateway loop clockwise, then after most of the descent veering to your left down Paradise and downhill(right) on Quartz all the way out to Westworld is fun. Then depending on how hard you want to make the climbing back to Gateway, ride up Taliesin(easy) to Quartz(take a left) to Paradise(take a right) to Gateway; or ride back up Quartz(more technical) to Paradise to Gateway.

A variation to riding clockwise on Gateway is to take the Desert Park Trail clockwise up to Windgate Pass Trail(right) to intersect Gateway near the top of the Gateway climb.

If you are really strong, you can take Windgate over the top and dip down the other side and pick up the Bell Pass Trail(right) and then climb back up Bell Pass and descend to Gateway.

The trails in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve that go over the mountains connect with the McDowell Mountain Park trails on the other side, so for a mega loop you could descend the other side and go around Pemberton, to Escondido, to Sport Loop, to Tech Loop, to Long Loop, to service road, to Pemberton, and then back over the McDowell mountains via Windgate pass or Bell pass.
 

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No Clue Crew
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ray: that segment looks like the Taliesin/Lost Dog loop if I'm not mistaken. I'm looking for something different.

Think we're gonna try the Gateway thing tomorrow.
 

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Yeah I like the Gateway trailhead too. Nice maps by the bathrooms. If you get there and you can already see the lot is full, you can rest assured most hikers are doing the gateway loop trail towards windgate pass trail. I can't blame them, really. Sweet section. But, if you want to warm up a bit, not a bad section to start on Desert Park Trail. Just under 3 miles, not difficult, and links right on to Windgate. Just cuts out a good section of hikers. But you will miss out on some beautiful people.

But yeah, windgate to bell pass back to gateway is nice. When are you going? I may be there too, depending on riding buddy. Brown Enduro green jersey.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Clearly there are a lot of studs out there. And clearly I'm not one of them.

Did Gateway-Wingate-Bell Pass-Gateway loop today clockwise. On a single-speed. It was brutal.
 

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Ahhh the pain....
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Blatant, you're were running a 32-20? That's my usual gear up that thing, but by no means do I clean all parts...and my HR is definitely pegged. On the Bell side, the section after the Prospector junction is purely HAB for me. A 32-21 is definitely friendlier up there and was the gear I've used in a handful of Quad BP rides...still, an unadulterated sufferfest for sure.
Not too many nut-jobs ride the passes on a SS...welcome to the club.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yep, 32-20.

I wasn't mentally prepared for the non-stop nature of the climbing. Or for the crowds. Been riding in the Valley for years and have never seen so many hikers. Everyone seemed nice, but most looked at us like they'd never seen bikers before. Thinned out quite a bit once we got past the initial Gateway Loop turnoff.

Honestly, I was pretty shelled by the time we got to the top of Bell. Fun descent, though, and loses a grip of altitude in a pretty short space. Did good on the SS, but couldn't help thinking how fun it would have been on the fully.
 

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I never made wind gate cw without stopping several times or a bit of hab. As for bell... It's all hab for me until the decent cw to gateway or the Paradise turn. SS? Beastmode!
 

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Yep, 32-20.

I wasn't mentally prepared for the non-stop nature of the climbing. Or for the crowds. Been riding in the Valley for years and have never seen so many hikers. Everyone seemed nice, but most looked at us like they'd never seen bikers before. Thinned out quite a bit once we got past the initial Gateway Loop turnoff.

Honestly, I was pretty shelled by the time we got to the top of Bell. Fun descent, though, and loses a grip of altitude in a pretty short space. Did good on the SS, but couldn't help thinking how fun it would have been on the fully.
Yup, much more fun on fully IMO. Favorite route is the one TJKM described above with easier climbing on Desert Park>Windgate Pass> Gateway Loop descent, then back up on south side of Gateway Loop to top, turn around and descend back to parking lot. You can get a lot of speed heading down so I only ride it in Summer when there are fewer hikers.
 

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I did the windgate to bell pass loop today too with my 6" bike for first time sine 2003. I'm glad had lots of gears, lots of travel and a slack head angle for the descent. I am always amazed to see single speeds on those mega climbs. I promptly sliced a sidewall on the east side and spent the rest of my ride blowing through tubes trying get my dried up tire boot to hold.

I have never seen so many hikers at one time on any trail. The hikers were nice but I often found myself explaining to them that I am not crazy and it is perfectly rational to ride a bike up and down these trails. I told them if you want crazy then talk to the guys riding up with one gear.
 

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Meatbomb
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I'm not a big fan of the Desert Park Trail. It's probably just me but the rocks on the trail really disturb my rhythm and take all the fun out of it.
 
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