Back In The Saddle Again, Mountain Biking The White Tank Mountains

POV of White Tank trails

POV of White Tank trails

I live in Minneapolis and am not hip enough to own a fat tire bike, so for the last few months the only saddle I’ve been in is at spin class. Cool as that is, it ain’t the same as riding dirt. So, on a recent trip to visit my snow bird parents in Phoenix I was stoked to rent a bike and hit the trail.

It was miles of smiles…


Bottom Line: 3.5 out of 5 Pedals. 25 miles of shared use trails and 10 miles of competitive track. The valley trails are mellow but the ones that head up the mountain will test your cardio. Competitive track is built for speed. Not a lot of technical features… at least the 12 miles I rode. Ford and Goat Camp look to have technical features and cardio burn. Respect the non-bikers. A fun ride but don’t expect an epic like Moab or Copper Harbor.


The Trails

I rode 12 miles of trails at White Tank Regional Park on the west side of the Phoenix Valley. In addition to a competitive bike track,there are 28 miles of shared use (hike, horse and bike) trails of varied difficulty and you can easily piece together your own route.

While most of the trail I rode was easy riding with few technical features and little incline, there are options heading up the mountain that will provide some burn and likely more technical challenges. With a winter’s worth of rust and flab I was content to not ride straight up a mountain, although, more technical features would have been nice.

I started out on the Ironwood trail, connected to the Waddell trail and then to the Mesquite trail where I headed up the mountain. Until my lungs and legs said. Stop. Please. Like I said a winter’s worth… From there I turned around and connected with the main park road with the intent of riding the Black Rock Loops. However, they are closed to bikes so I back tracked to the Ford Canyon trail and back to the competitive track where I did one of the loops before leaving.

Waddell TrailThe shared use trails provided nice views of the White Tanks and of course all the cacti (good incentive not to bite it!). They are nice and wide without sharp curves or large obstacles. In other words, you could really let it rip. Don’t. You don’t want to be “that guy”. You know, the guy that gives the rest of the bikers a bad reputation by not caring about things like spitting dust in a little old lady’s face. Remember, it is a shared trail.

So, basically the shared use trails fall into two categories. The ones at the floor of the mountains are mellow and the ones headed up the mountain are strenuous. None of them are IMBA designed trails with switchbacks to ease the upward grind.

Fun as the shared use trails were I was looking forward to some technical features on the competitive track. No such luck- at least not on the loop I did. White Tank Mountain Trail SignMaybe some of the others have more features. However, it is fast. And you don’t need to worry about sharing the trail. It is open to horses and runners but is one way and frankly, I doubt you will see many non-bikers on it.

Note: I did not ride much of Ford or Mesquite and none of Goat Camp. All of which are rated difficult or extremely difficult. For sure they will give you a good burn and likely some good challenges.

Don’t miss: Ok I missed it this time but I’ve done it before… hike the Waterfall Trail. It is short (.9 mile) and really cool.

Rental: I rented a 29er (my first time trying one… loved it. More on that later) from Exhale Bikes for $75 per day. Their definition of per day means you can your bike up when the store opens and return it at close the following day so, it was really more like two days. They also have standard 26ers for less.

One thought on “Back In The Saddle Again, Mountain Biking The White Tank Mountains

  1. Nice to see sun & dirt trails so late in winter. ALSO – don’t think anyone would accuse you of being ‘that guy’. HA! Made me laugh…knew exactly what you meant.

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