San Tan Trail can be ridden either direction, but starting from the main parking lot, it heads south as a wide, flat, mildly sandy trail popular with hikers and horses. Continuing south, it will start a gentle climb, with recently re-routed sections avoiding some of the sandy washes. The trail flows more like a mountain bike trail as you climb up to a viewpoint looking off to Malpais Hills and Rock Peak. The descent from here is a little steep and the only section of the main biking trails (i.e. everything besides upper Goldmine) that might require intermediate riders to put a foot down if climbing from the south.
The trail takes a sharp right and heads east through some fun, rolling, whoop-de-doos and wash crossings. Much of the southern portion of the trail is through a forest of stately saguaros. Be sure to stop and snap a picture of a rare crested saguaro on the southernmost section of the trail.
The tour through the saguaros continues as you head back north and pass the Hedgehog Trail
intersection. There will be some moderate climbing as the saguaros are replaced by chain fruit cholla with a nice view of the rocky Malpais Hills to the south.
The west side of the central, unnamed peak is a fun, flowing ride in either direction. Once past the Moonlight Trail
intersection the trail widens as it merges with the park service road. The temptation is to really fly through here, but remember you are sharing the trail with others. The northern part of the trail becomes rockier and a bit less scenic. Officially San Tan Trail ends at the intersection with Goldmine Trail. Goldmine to Little Leaf Trail
is the preferred route back to the parking lot.
All intersections are well-signed, and trail maps are available at the trailheads.