Best Mountain Bike Ride (2012)

Hawes Trail Loops, Mesa

South Mountain may be known worldwide as one of the planet's best mountain bike playgrounds, but imagine an alternate mountain bike trail system that combines a bit of everything from that premier park: a good dose of National, add some Desert Classic, a dash of Mormon, a pinch of Javelina, and smidge of Alta. Mash 'em all up and drop the results on the east end of the Valley, and, presto, there lie the Hawes Trail Loops.

It may be a vastly smaller network of single-track than its big brother to the west, but it twists like a rattlesnake ready to strike, with climbs and drops that keep even the most technically capable riders on their toes. Hawes and its accompanying trails take riders up to mine shafts and through a forest of cactus leading to some of the best views in the East Valley. The primary trailhead is on the east side of Power Road (if you start heading downhill to the river valley, you're too far) with a small parking area across Power that holds about 10 cars (otherwise plan on parking at the Walgreen's at Power and Thomas Road, about two miles south). The most ride-able loop is a combination of Hawes, Saddle, Saguaro, and Ridge trails in a counterclockwise direction, for a run of about seven miles. The trails are signed with some old wood-carved placards sitting on posts whenever the tracks intersect. For a sweet payoff, work to the top of Saguaro Trail and discover why that trail is also known as Mine Shaft.


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