Sweetwater is one of the newest additions to the Tucson trail-system, and it’s popularity has exploded. A new, bigger parking area is complete, but please be kind and considerate with the neighbors, as they’re not thrilled with all the cars parked at the end of the road. This area is a decent-sized system of numerous trails and loops of fairly easy terrain to make your ride as enjoyable as you want. The entire area is surrounded by houses, so there is little worry about getting lost.
The general consensus is to start with the Saguaro Vista Trail, Sun Circle Loop, and Black Rock Loop and then taking the Lost Arrow Trail to head off to the other trails. Combining the Sun Circle Loop and the Black Rock Loop are great for a beginner’s ride, especially when taking the two loops clockwise.
Black Rock Loop has a small sustained climb when heading in the clockwise direction with a nice subtle downhill section to gain some speed as a reward. The Lost Arrow Trail is all sustained climbing with a couple of small wash crossings. From the end of the Lost Arrow Trail, you can either take the Spine to the left or head straight on the Homestead Trail, which has access to the Red Canyon Trail and a couple more wash crossings. The Red Canyon Trail has a small rocky section that is good for intermediate riders, but not recommended for those who are just beginning. The Oxbow trail is really just a flat connector trail that connects you from the Red Tail Ridge Trail (with 2 more wash crossings at the end) to the Spine and the Wildflower Ridge Trail. The Wildflower Ridge Trail is a fun trail (mostly downhill) with a couple of nice little switchbacks (one of them in a slightly rocky section).
Directions: Take Ruthrauff Rd. west of I-10 where it then turns to El Camino del Cerro. Approx 1 mile west of I-10 you will cross Silverbell Rd. Keep going west about another 1.8 miles until you come to Tortolita Rd., and turn left (south). Go about 1 mile until the road dead ends, and you’re at the trailhead.