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A short looping tour of Brown Mountain with a technical descent.

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3,095' 944 m


2,653' 809 m


688' 210 m


688' 210 m



Avg Grade (3°)


Max Grade (15°)

Dogs Unknown

E-Bikes Unknown


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.


Shared By:

Bob Kelsey with improvements by Jason Osborn

Trail Ratings

  3.6 from 30 votes


  3.6 from 30 votes
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in Arizona


62 Views Last Month
6,265 Since Feb 26, 2014
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Saguaro cactus bloom
Jan 2, 2015 near Tucson…, AZ
Looking down towards one of the wonderful gnar bar descents on Brown Mountain.
Mar 4, 2019 near Tucson…, AZ
View from Brown Mountain top, way up there.
Feb 24, 2020 near Tucson…, AZ
Along the ridge of Brown Mountain, it's a long way down. That's the bike shadow on the bottom.
Feb 24, 2020 near Tucson…, AZ
North View of Desert Museum and Juan Santa Cruz picnic area.
Feb 27, 2014 near Tucson…, AZ
Northwest View
Feb 27, 2014 near Tucson…, AZ


Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 27 days ago
Add Your Check-In


Mar 29, 2021
Brian Beckner
Brutal, nearly unrideable. I will NOT be back to this trail! 4.6mi — 0h 57m
Mar 13, 2021
Matt Lewandowski
Climb is a blue/black after halfway point. Down hill is full of switch backs and lose rocks of all size. Very little singletrack. Cactus monsters 4.9mi — 1h 00m
Jan 15, 2021
Kevan H.
Sep 27, 2020
Walter Whately
Good singletrack to start, then a lot of hike-a-bike until you drop down to the final switchbacks.
Mar 30, 2020
Austin Jeltes
just barely made it before the sun went down. fairly flat flowy section taste of downhill as the view opens up and you see the the desert museum ar… 4.9mi — 1h 10m
Nov 3, 2019
Manu Singh
Good condition.
Feb 28, 2019
Bikeheidi Bikeheidi
Dec 1, 2018
Did half and then bailed over to the parking area and headed for cougar 2.5mi

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