The Sonoran Long Figure 8 is a 10-mile intermediate loop through the Phoenix Sonoran Desert Preserve near 19th Ave & Jomax. Depending on your skill level, you may or may not need to hike-a-bike in spots.
This ride is clear most weekday mornings, and only sees minimal traffic on the weekends. Make sure to watch for hikers and other riders, as there are some blind turns throughout.
Start at the parking lot behind the community center on Desert Vista Drive. From the get go, the trail climbs steeply enough that some riders may need to hike up. Halfway to the summit, the trail separates in two. You can either keep going up or take the trail on the right. I would highly recommend continuing to the top and continuing the ride from there. The climbs this way are harder, but generally shorter, and the descents are a bit longer.
Once you reach the summit of Hawk's Nest
, turn left on Dixie Mountain Loop
. At the beginning of this trail, a very short climb leads to a long downhill around the mountain. This portion of the downhill is mainly smooth without many tricky sections. Once you learn the trail, you can really fly.
Upon reaching the bottom, the trail levels out for a short distance before reaching a low-grade climb for about 100 feet. At the top of the climb, you'll begin a very gradual downhill that's a good section to rip through. It's got one or two tight turns to look out for, but otherwise, it's very calm and steady. As you near the end of the downhill, continue on the Dixie Mountain Loop
. There is an exit for Bobcat
but it takes you north towards Dove Valley Drive.
Next is a low-grade climb for a few hundred feet followed by a steep uphill. This section up a mountain reaches the highest point of the ride and may require you to hike-a-bike. Upon reaching the highest point on the trail, the Dixie Summit Trail
veers right to the summit of the mountain. This trail is not recommended for mountain biking.
Now that you've crested the mountain, let the downhill begin. The first portion of the downhill is rocky and loose, so keep your brake fingers at the ready. As you continue downhill, a marker for the Valle Verde Trail
will appear. Take the Valle Verde Trail
left and continue following it downhill. At the bottom is a low-grade downhill that's rather enjoyable. Continue following the trail past the Desert Tortoise
Next, you'll reach a junction with the Cactus Wren Trail
. I recommend following the left fork of the trail. This is a lower-grade climb with a few descents that lead to very steep but short uphills. While it may sound hard, this is the easiest route. As you come around the top of the steep hill, a low-grade downhill approaches and you end up back at the fork for Cactus Wren Trail
Head back the same way you came on the Valle Verde Trail
until you connect with Desert Tortoise
. Turn left on this trail for a slow uphill and then a long "roller coaster" downhill section. The trail ends at the midpoint of Hawk's Nest
mentioned earlier. Follow it back down to the parking lot to complete the ride.