5 great mountain bike trails in the Verde Valley

Throughout the Verde Valley, from Cottonwood to Sedona to the Village of Oak Creek, there is an abundance of mountain bike trails to challenge the skill set  of the most experienced to novice riders. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

Throughout the Verde Valley, from Cottonwood to Sedona to the Village of Oak Creek, there is an abundance of mountain bike trails to challenge the skill set of the most experienced to novice riders. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

The employees of the Verde Valley Bicycle Co. not only work on mountain bikes, they are also avid mountain bikers. Randy Young and Jeff Johnson of the Verde Valley Bicycle Co. suggested five great mountain bike trails in the Verde Valley.

1) The Verde Valley Bicycle Co. crew likes to ride at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood (675 Dead Horse Ranch Road) because it’s close to their shop. Young recommends the Raptor, Thumper and Bones trail loop, “Parking is easy to find and you receive a map when you pay to get into the State Park.” Admission to the park is either $7 by car or $3 on bike. This is an intermediate level loop that is 8 miles. Raptor Trail has short punchy climbs and is mostly two track for about 2 miles. Then take a left onto Thumper Trail, ride about half a mile and then another left puts you on scenic Bones Trail, descending back toward the park. Bones is single track with a select few technical areas and a high level of flow. There are great views of the Tuzigoot ruins, Jerome and Mingus Mountain.

2) Another ride they recommend is off Long Canyon Road in West Sedona. Go down Dry Creek Road and the parking for Mescal Trail is on Long Canyon Road. It’s free and signed. A short loop is made by combining Mescal, Deadman’s Pass and Long Canyon Trail. All three trails are intermediate level with areas of slightly advanced difficulty. Mescal has a slick rock section with epic views.

3) Also in West Sedona, bikers should park at the Soldier Pass Trailhead (Forest Service 9904 Road) by 8 a.m. to get a parking spot for this route. The Soldiers Pass Trail is taken via Grand Central Trail to Adobe Jack, passing by the Seven Sacred Pools. A beautiful trail system with additional parking is at either Posse Grounds Park or if, outside of school hours, at West Sedona School if the trailhead parking is full. All these trails are intermediate to beginner level and very well signed.

4) A spectacular trail for red rock views to ride is in the Village of Oak Creek. Park at the Bell Rock Vista Trail and cross SR179 to get to Slim Shady Trail. It’s a nice loop that can be made by taking Slim Shady Trail to Templeton, which connects to Easy Breezy and via HT Trail Little Horse Trail can be taken to Llama Trail and then looped back to the Bell Rock Pathway Parking area by getting on Bell Rock Trail. This is an intermediate loop of about 14 miles with something for riders of all levels. There are areas of both Slim Shady and Little Horse that are short technical and advanced level. From Templeton Trail, there are amazing views of the Village of Oak Creek red rocks. Part of the trail runs right under Cathedral Rock on open red rock.

5) For the final trail, Johnson recommended a trail for only “advanced” riders. Park at the Broken Arrow Trail Head in Sedona. Get on the Broken Arrow Trail and follow the mountain labeled biking routes, up to Chicken Point, hang a right onto Little Horse Trail, when you ride through some Cyprus trees you will see Chapel Trail on the right, then just below the Chapel of the Holy Cross, you want to hang a left and follow Mystic Trail to Hogwash and stay on Hogwash all the way to the car. “There’s lots of drop-offs,” Johnson said. “It’s really steep climbing up. Broken Arrow is very challenging” and about 2 ½ miles long, “There’s a lot of up and down. If they’ve ridden everything else and they were bored to tears, then they should go ride this,” Johnson said.

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