Honeybee Canyon/Tortolita Mountain Access Update

As most mountain bikers in Tucson are already aware, there are a number of access issues going on right now at Honeybee Canyon in Oro Valley. Representatives from the MTB community are in touch with the respective stakeholders to try to find solutions. Here is an update of the current situations. Most of this information has already been posted, but we wanted to get everything in one place.

Parking Issues at 1171 E. Rancho Vistoso Blvd (Fast Rhino/Cop Shop):

First off, the property management who runs the commonly used parking area at 1171 E. Rancho Vistoso Blvd (sometimes called the “Cop Shop”) has, for the time being, prohibited non-customers from parking there 7 days a week. This has always been a popular place to park for folks using the Honeybee trails and, and since the Como Rd. access was closed off it has seen a huge spike in use. Numerous road cycling groups also use the lot to start and finish rides, sometimes having as many as 50 plus riders. There have been issues with folks parking there for years, mainly due to some local residents who were hostile to bikes, but things came to a head recently with business owners citing overuse of the lot during business hours, public nudity due to riders changing before and after rides, a recent bike demo day that was not cleared with the owners, and some riders urinating and even defecating at the lot.

Until further notice, please do not park at the parking lot at 1171 E. Rancho Vistoso Blvd. You will likely be towed. It is private property, and the owners are threatening to tow anyone who parks there for cycling purposes. Representatives from the cycling community are in contact with the property management company and are working hard to find solutions to maintain access, and we will update via Facebook and the internet as things progress. Please be respectful of the business owners at the Plaza; getting confrontational will not help us secure access.

If you want to ride at Honeybee, you still have some parking options. First, you can park at the official Honeybee Canyon Trailhead (directions are here: https://www.orovalleyaz.gov/parksan…/…/honey-bee-canyon-park). While there is limited parking here, there are also bathrooms and ramadas available for use. Please do not stage large group rides here. Second, you can park at Oro Valley Bikes at 12925 N Oracle Rd, 2.3 miles east of the Honeybee trails access point. There is plenty of parking at Oro Valley Bikes. It will add a few miles to your ride, but give you a nice warmup before getting on the dirt. And finally, you can drive a few more miles north to W. Edwin Rd, hang a left, and drive west to the Windmill. Edwin is a dirt road, but passable for SUV’s and most cars. Make sure to pick up an AZ State Land Dept. permit, as the Honeybee Trails and Edwin Rd. parking are on State Trust land. Large group rides should plan on parking at Oro Valley Bikes or on Edwin Rd.

Access Issues at the Quiet Rain Dr. Access for Honeybee Trails:

Another long-time problem area is the trail access via Quiet Rain Dr. off of Rancho Vistoso Blvd. The Quiet Rain access point uses a utility easement between two subdivisions, and while it is technically an easement it is also private property. In the past, there have been complaints about mountain bikers, conflicts with hikers and property owners, and even roofing nails found on the ground (presumably to damage tires and keep mountain bikers from using the trails). Recently, the HOA who oversees the utility easement put up a sign limiting use from dawn to dusk (i.e. no night riding), prohibiting any organized races, and asking cyclists to be courteous. While we are working with the HOA to find a solution, we ask that folks respect the HOA’s request to avoid night rides until things get sorted out. Representatives from the cycling community met with the HOA on 3/16/16 to start the dialogue about preserving access through the utility subdivision, and we will provide updates as we get them. If you want to night ride at Honeybee, please access the trails from W. Erwin Rd.

For both issues, representatives are also in touch with Oro Valley Parks and Rec, Oro Valley Police Department, and the Town of Oro Valley to find solutions and advocate for permanent trailhead access. The sad reality is that, although we all ride and love the Honeybee trails, they are un-sanctioned trails on State Trust land and there is no guaranteed right to use them.

We appreciate your patience while we get things sorted out!

4 comments

  • Other alternatives… There is a trail that heads east from this trail system, and goes out to Oracle road north of the transfer station. It actually comes into the road that accesses the church that sits out there by itself. This trail is on strava, but you have to work at it to have it show up. This Oracle Hwy area where this trail comes in is the likely solution as it is lightly inhabited and has much potential for a trailhead compared to the Rancho Vistoso area. I live in the HOA that seems to be raising hell. I would be happy to represent the MTB community interests in this conflict. I think they would be much less likely to be hostile to one of their neighbors. There are three or four of us in the HOA that MTB, and I would be happy to enlist their support. I agree with most of their complaints, but don’t know what the issue with night riding is, and would be supportive of working on that issue.

    • Hi Erik,
      I also live in HBR (we met before) and I just got an email from Associa concerning the Town Hall meeting on September 7th at 6pm. I found your post while trying to find out what the issue is with people using the easement on non-motorized bikes or on foot. I believe unrestricted access to nature is super important for a healthy society, especially for our kids and youth. I also believe that homeowners, hikers, dogwalkers, and mountain bikers can share that land respectfully and peacefully.
      I might be on the way back from the airport at 6 pm that day.
      Are you planning on attending that meeting?

  • As mountain bikers we need to take control of access to Honeybee Canyon Trails at Quiet Rain before it is closed off like the Como area and the east side of the Tortolita Preserve Trail. As a Realtor (former teacher with a master’s degree) I can tell you the people in the Honeybee Ridge area are millionaires, and most likely have the money and power to close access there. One possible solution is for mountain bikers to take ownership of the access road by a real estate method known as adverse possession, as defined below from Wikipedia.
    “Adverse possession is a method of acquiring complete title to land as against all others, including the record owner, through certain acts over an uninterrupted period of time, as prescribed by statute. Gifis, Steven H. (1984) Barron’s Law Dictionary, page 14; “An open, notorious, exclusive and adverse possession for twenty years operates to convey a complete title…not only an interest in the land…but complete dominion over it.” Sir William Blackstone (1759) Commentaries on the Laws of England, Volume 2, page 418.”
    Many of us have been using those trails and the access road for over 20 years, which would qualify us as owners of the access road under adverse possession. I would assume among the MTB community in Tucson there is a Real Estate Lawyer that could check the feasibility of using adverse possession as a solution to unrestricted access at Quiet Rain.
    The Edwin Road-RailX entrance is too far from most of us. And with that area growing we will probably have similar access problems in the future. We need to find a legal way to preserve our entry to state lands. Further, I think residents in Honeybee Ridge are presumptuous to move to an area near state land and then try to control the land and its access. What do they do when the coyotes howl at night?

  • Hi: although a hiker rather than a MTB, I used the trails on AZ State Trust Lands for years, WITH A PERMIT, accessing from my home in Sun City Oro Valley. There were few hikers but lots of friendly bikers, and our meetings were always positive. You guys are great!
    That said, after being away for some months I was very excited to get in a good hike today, and entered the easement road as I always do, walking from Sun City down into the wash that borders the community, coming out quite close to the gate that controls AZ State Lands. Imagine my surprise when I found not one but TWO sturdy (steel) locked gates – with the ‘person/bike’ anti-cow portal gone and lots of barbed-wire replacing it. While I could have easily climbed over or crawled under the wire into the State Lands, my wife was not too keen on the idea, and we turned around. How can the HoneyBee HOA close off the State Lands AT the State Lands? I was never on their precious road, and it’s a good thing, too – probably would have been shot on sight. Or is this to keep folks* from entering the easement area from the north? Either way I’ll have to bribe someone in Sun City with a lot that backs up to my hiking grounds, or look into the other access points you mention in the comments above. I HATE to drive someplace to exercise. Just seems so futile…and it is incredibly sad that the wealthy ‘homeowner’s’, late-comers to the scene, want to add to their already eye-watering carbon footprint by eliminating hikers and bicyclists. Arrogant and selfish beyond belief.

    *the dreaded unwashed heathens from Catalina.

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