Bicycling in Tucson, AZ

Last Updated on January 13, 2020 by Janet Frost

I share plenty of posts about hiking. Especially now that I am in the hiking heaven of Arizona. But I rarely share my second favorite outdoor adventure, bicycling. As I tenderly packed up my road bike for the move across the country, it occurred to me that Arizona would have year round bicycling weather. Of course the weather is wonderful, but there are so many more reasons to love bicycling in Tucson.

Let’s Go Learn Things about bicycling in Tucson, AZ…

Weather and Terrain

Catalina State Park saguaro
Massive saguaro cactus patrol the skies

We might as well start with the wonderful weather in Southern Arizona. Bicycling in Tucson offers an average of 285 sunny days per year. The average temperatures range from 42 to 102 degrees. With a couple of clothing layers, 42 degrees is manageable. The idea of riding into a bright blue sky any day in January or February sure beats my options in Wisconsin.

However, let’s be honest 102 is sweltering. Tucsonians learn to ride early in the morning or late in the evening. They swear it is “dry heat”! I agree with them, I have rode plenty of 85 degree days with a pall of 90% humidity in the Midwest. That humidity is like pedaling through a suffocating blanket.

The terrain in Tucson ranges from desert flats to demanding mountain peaks and everything in between. I am struck by the diversity of riding styles embraced in the region. The paved loop system trails are busy with traditional road bikes, jolly tandems and otherworldly recumbents. Multi-use trails crisscross the desert, the foothills, the washes, and the peaks. Mountain bikers aka fat tire enthusiasts zip through these beautiful and challenging terrains.

Take a scenic drive up the Mt. Lemmon Hwy and you will be impressed by the hardcore cyclists pounding out the elevation miles. Many Tour de France cyclists use Tucson as their winter training grounds. It is a winding, 20-mile road which rises 5,500 feet from desert to forested peaks.

Competitive cyclists grind out the ascent to Mt. Lemmon

Bicycling Town Rankings

The organization, People for Bikes sponsors this annual listing of “Bike Towns”. You can see that Tucson ranks on this top ten list. Their site explains the rating system. Metro Tucson is very committed to building and maintaining safe trails. The residents of all ages and walks of life are out biking everyday.

I moved into an “active senior community” and my neighbors pack on the bike miles every week. The paved trails travel along massive washes, bird sanctuaries, saguaro preserves and even several breweries. Yes of course I find breweries on my bike! Here is a list of some of my favorite Tucson Breweries.

Trail Systems

Road Biking

Tucson and Pima County boast 124 miles of paved pathways and bike lanes. The Loop, circles greater Tucson on 54 miles that follow the Rillito, Santa Cruz, Pantano River Parks and the Julian Wash and Harrison Greenways.

In addition to The Loop, the CDO Wash Trail, Santa Cruz River Trail and Marana Heritage Trail reach beyond Tucson into the surrounding Pima County.

The Loop shared use paved path around Tucson, AZ

Mountain Biking

The MTBproject  (Mountain Biking Project) lists 435 miles of mountain biking adventure over a variety of 132 trails. The trails in the Tucson area are mostly single track. I am not a mountain biker, but I have seen them zipping around the desert and mountain trails and it does look like a blast!

Clubs and Organizations

Outdoor adventures are always fun with friends and kindred spirits. This is where biking clubs and organizations come in. Biking organizations also play a vital role in community improvements for future cyclists.

Tucson Off-Road Cyclists and Activists
Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists
Greater Arizona Bicycling Association/Tucson

Cycle Tucson

There are so many great opportunities in Tucson for hiking, biking, eating and beer drinking. Tucson embraces its unique and beautiful physical surroundings. For more great ideas check out this Tucson Bucket List from Campfires and Concierges.

I love cycling in the Tucson area. The sun shines from a cerulean sky, the birds happily sing and the cyclists are all smiling. Come ride with me!

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3 thoughts on “Bicycling in Tucson, AZ”

  1. Lots of great tails to try! I have started riding around my hometown this past year and while I can’t ride year round since I live in central Illinois where weather is an issue, I am really enjoying it. Maybe I need a trip to Tuscon!

    1. I enjoy The Loop because it takes you through so many different parts of Tucson. The most southern segment is my favorite.

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