“A short looping tour of Brown Mountain with a technical descent.
— Bob Kelsey
This trail is part of the Tucson Mountain Park trail system. A fun combination of desert floor riding on the east side and rocky technical climbing and descending on the ridge. Great views from on top the ridge. Link this trail up with others in the area for a great day of riding!
This route was ridden counter-clockwise to enjoy the descent down the switchbacks from the ridge. I would recommend this direction if you want to avoid climbing the rocky switchbacks.
Starting from the trailhead located just north of the Gilbert Ray Campground on McCain Loop (M9 pullout, there is Brown Mountain sign here), Brown Mountain is directly in front of you. Ride north through the mostly gentle terrain to a crossing at a wash. On the north side of the wash, climb a couple rock steps and turn right at the intersection (Cougar Trail
sign). Enjoy the ride as the smooth trail gently climbs through the cacti forest around the east side of Brown Mountain. Keep left at approx. 1/2 mile (row of small rocks will direct you). Keep climbing and winding on the easy trail along the east side of the mountain.
Near the north side of the mountain at mile 2.5, take a quick breath, stay left at a trail intersection and start climbing west up the hill. The trail to the right will take you down to the Juan Santa Cruz Picnic Area (an alternate trailhead). As you climb the left trail, look north and you'll see the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, great place to visit when you are done riding. After a short climb you'll see a couple signs pointing to the picnic area (east) and the campground (south). Turn south and keep climbing, enjoy the western views!
The trail becomes steeper with a few switchbacks and rock obstacles as you climb the ridge. The trail crests the first climb on the east side of the mountain before dropping down into a small saddle. On the south side of the saddle, the climbing begins again to the top of the ridge. This climb is a little longer and has several small rock obstacles, just put your head down and grind it out. Once on top, enjoy a flowing section along the top of Brown Mountain before starting a technical descent down the south side of the mountain.
The first descent consists of multiple sharp steep switchbacks, rock steps, and loose rocks and is a lot of fun! It's all rideable, but intermediate/difficult in spots. The trail bottoms out at a small saddle before gently climbing south along the ridge again. Once on top, the trail descends to the south in a series of flowing switchbacks. The trail is rocky with rock steps in spots of the intermediate variety. The trail straightens and gradually flattens to a faster section before dropping into a short intermediate/difficult section of rock steps. At the bottom of the rocky section you'll arrive at the trail intersection and wash you crossed at the start of the ride. Continue across the wash and ride back to the trailhead.