Featured Ride: Hawes Trail Network, Arizona

In: FEATURED RIDES By: Dirt Rag Magazine On: November 7, 2016

Built by mountain bikers, the Hawes trail network rolls thorough the beautiful Sonoran desert that surrounds the Phoenix metro area.

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Trail information and photos courtesy of MTB Project.

Overview

Being one of the least rocky trails in the Phoenix area makes this a great place for the cross-country rider. The trails wind through scenic Sonoran desert that provide picturesque views of Red (McDowell) Mountain.

The last of half of the Saguaro Trail (aka Mine Trail) passes by three abandoned mines. There are several other connecting trails and routes in the area for more riding options.

Need To Know

Many people park behind the Walgreens on the corner of Power and Recker and then ride across Power Road as Recker turns into Eagle Crest Drive. Just past the canal (and canal access roads) and before the Las Sendas sign, Fenceline Trail heads north behind the houses.

There is also parking just past the canal after Power Road becomes Bush Highway. If you park here it provides closer to access the Hawes Trail Network entrance that’s directly off of Bush Highway.

Most, but not all, of the trails have signs at the intersections.

Description

Starting from the Las Sendas entrance, the Fenceline Trail is a very easy, smooth ride behind the neighborhood houses. You can fly through on the large chain ring here, but be aware that someone coming the other direction may be doing the same thing, and often the tunnels formed by the trees and bushes growing over the trail obscure your view.

As soon as you cross through the opening in the fence, the terrain starts to get a little more interesting as you come to the first intersection with Hawes Trail. Continuing straight will take you on a moderately strenuous climb up around the hill in front of you, but going left will be an easier climb with a lot more twists and turns. You’ll only be on Hawes Trail for 0.3 miles before you reach the intersection to Saguaro Trail on the right (some maps call this Story Trail). Continue the singletrack fun, twisting through some washes as you come to the crossing of the Ridge and Saguaro Trail. Take an immediate right onto Ridge Trail.

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After the quick climb and descent it will be a long gentle climb up Ridge Trail to the intersection with Saddle Trail. Take a right and follow Saddle trail down and back up out of a valley. As you climb up Saddle Trail, winding between large boulders, there will be an unmarked intersection. Taking a left will put you on Secret Trail that is now one of the more popular and fun trails. There are a few sandy wash bottoms to cross and short climbs, but there will also be picturesque views of Red Mountain. After the final climb will be a rollicking, roller-coaster descent rolling in and out of a downhill wash.

Just after another nice photo op of Red Mountain, Secret Trail rejoins Saddle Trail at an unmarked intersection. The natural flow of the trail would continue north on Saddle Trail, which has a steep, challenging descent. Some prefer to take the longer route on the left and head back south on Saddle Trail, and then retrace Ridge Trail with a fast, rolling downhill, staying right at the unmarked intersection and taking the short connector trail over to Saguaro.

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After the wash crossing on Saguaro Trail, there’s a strenuous climb up to the top, passing intersections for Saddle and Twisted Sister trails. Continuing the climb will take you by the first of three abandoned mines. The first mine is the most interesting, as it’s a cave that you can climb into for a very short distance. Mine Trail has some exposed sections that will keep you on your toes. Once you start descending, there are some sections that are a little more challenging, either from rockiness or tight switchback turns. There will also be some great views of Red Mountain, the Salt River and Four Peaks.

Saguaro Trail ends as it connects with Granite Trail. Much of Granite Trail has been slightly rerouted in recent years to get it out of the sandy bottom of the wash. After 0.4 miles it connects with Ridge Trail. Either direction will get you back, but going right will send you up another moderate climb with another postcard view of Red Mountain.

The descent from here is another rollicking good time all the way down to the bottom of a normally dry wash, followed by a short, steep climb up to Hawes Trail, with Bush Highway just off to your right. Right at the intersection will take you out to the road, but that’s no fun, so go left for some ups and downs and one short exposed rocky section as you follow Hawes (some maps refer to this section as Pig Trail) south all the way until you are heading back on Fenceline Trail, re-tracing your path back to the parking area.

Background

Most of the trails were built by mountain bikers, so naturally there are a lot of fun twists and turns. Development consumed some of the original trails, but there are still plenty of miles of great singletrack. The land is managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Tonto National Forest office.


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