“Some rocky riding through part of the Tucson Mountains.”
— Hillary Mathis
This trail begins in the parking lot just below the Gates Pass saddle on the west side of the saddle. he beginning of this trail from the TH is very steep with large rocks, and steep steps. You gain about 100ft in a half mile on difficult terrain. You then quickly descend 300 feet on more large and rocky steps (climbing back up this is very difficult). After another mile or so of more ups and downs (some mellow some super steep), you'll link up with the Starr Pass Main Loop
The trail then comes to a clearing and continues heading to the right up a steep, slightly technical section. At one point on the way up, the trail splits in two, but both ways lead back together - choose either direction. Once you get to the top, the fun new section of downhill singletrack, avoiding riding the wash, awaits you.
From here, you head back up to the same 5-way that you saw at the beginning of the ride. In order to get there, stay left at all intersections. This section is a steep and rocky climb. Watch your lines, and watch for riders coming down the trail fast.
After you head up to the 5-way junction with the metal sign, the trail continues (left) up more steep and technical terrain to another saddle, and descends towards the Stone House (a Stone House in the Tucson Mountains). After passing the Stone House, you soon end at the Camino de Oeste parking lot. Overall, this trail is largely difficult and steep terrain with loose rocks. To do this trail in full as a 13 mile round-trip out and back would be challenging, and would likely involve hike-a-biking. The section of trail that is part of the Starr Pass Main Loop
is pretty fun and manageable for beginners.
The most redeeming part of the trail that connects the SP Main Loop to Gates Pass is just that: having the experience of crossing the Tucson Mountains from Starr Pass to Gates Pass.