Deservingly so, mountain bikers regularly flock to Sedona, Arizona. Well known as a mountain biking playground, there is no denying the allure of the famous red dirt and stunning mesas. Include me among the many that will always jump at the chance to ride the area.
But, those in the know are well aware of the awesome, but less known trails overlooking the nearby town of Cottonwood. Offering a slightly different riding experience, Cottonwood doesn’t bring the vast scale of trail networks one will find in neighboring Sedona, but don’t let that fool you. I’ve been riding here the past few days and have been pleasantly surprised with the variety of riding conditions, lack of crowds, and immediate access from the Dead Horse Ranch State Park campsites.
I really need to be more consistent in reading the trail descriptions before pointing my bike towards the mountains on trails I’ve never ridden.
The final “big” climb I loaded onto my Garmin was essentially unridable, resulting in a miserable two mile hike-a-bike slog 1,300ft to the summit pass.
Fortunately, the back side of the mountain rewarded me with an ear-to-ear grin-inducing 1,700ft descent back to camp.
Today I kickoff my Arizona winter riding season under blue skies and perfect temperatures. All good here.
A few years ago I saw an indie film highlighting the MTB scene in Bentonville, Arkansas. At the time, I had no idea this area had such a great trail network.
I recently learned that – led by two Walton grandchildren in conjunction with the Walton Foundation – the county has invested $73MM into all sorts of trails, features, and signage.
A recent economic impact study confirmed that visitors like me bring in $143MM annually. Expect to see cars from all over at trailheads.
This place is bonkers; the variety of riding is awesome – loads of riding immediately accessed from the campground.
I’ve been on the bike every day this week, my personal favorite being the #theback40 … one of multiple 20+ mile XC loops.