When it comes to technical trails, East Tucson has La Milagrosa, and the west side has Brown Mountain. The majority of this trail is not for the faint of heart. While the lower section is fun, intermediate-level riding, the upper section is steep, rocky and brutal with dangerous exposures. If you’re not comfortable with this kind of ride, then be aware you will be walking a lot, both up and down the mountain. That being said, the views are incredible! Simply put, this is one of Tucson’s best technical trails. We highly recommend riding around the East side of the mountain and beginning the route from the North end (by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum). Some riders enjoy riding up the South side but it is much more fun coming DOWN that section.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is just north of Brown Mountain, and Old Tucson Studios are a short drive down Kinney Road to the South. Drop the kids and spouse off at one of these great attractions, and go have some singletrack fun. There are numerous ways of getting to Brown Mountain, and remember that there are restrooms and water available at the Gilbert Ray Campground, just south of Brown Mountain.
For a longer ride that is mostly Intermediate, a favorite spot to park is Parking area G5 in the Saguaro National Mounument/Starr Pass area. From this parking area, you take Gates Pass Trail, then north on Cougar Trail, and then snag Ringtail Trail where you cross over K19 Parking and Kinney Road. Doing this route as an out-and-back, it’s about 16-miles and a good workout.
If you’re looking to conquer Brown Mountain without any fluff, then park right at K19 off Kinney Road, cross Kinney, go through the wash, and at the first intersection, hang a right at the Y intersection and you’re on your way.
If you’re pressed for time, you can always park at the Juan Santa Cruz Picnic Area, just north of the mountain, and be on your way. Be aware that you won’t get much of a warmup before you hit the steep climb if you go this route.