Adventure Projects is hiring a web engineer to join us in Boulder, CO
MTB Project Logo


 3.6 (18)

21.1 Miles 33.9 Kilometers



1,105' 337 m


-6,939' -2,115 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (17°)

9,100' 2,774 m


3,185' 971 m


Shared By Vernie Aikins



Getting forecast...

An amazing trail traversing from the top of Mt Lemmon to the bottom.

Vernie Aikins

Dogs Unknown

Features -none-


One of the best rides in Tucson. Starting at 9000 feet in the pines, running along flowing creeks, and ending all the way at the desert floor of a 50 year trail system.

Need to Know

This is a ride where you'll want to have a gps (use the MTB Project mobile app!) and the shuttle set-up can be difficult.


The ride starts at 9000ft on the top of Mt Lemmon and links numerous trails together all the way to the bottom.

You'll start on the Meadow trail, meandering along for a mile or so before you get to the Sutherland split. At the split, take a right. You'll be on the Sutherland trail for a very short distance before it becomes an old jeep road. You'll get to the end of the jeep road and there will be a Sutherland CDO junction. Go right here. (Do not go left down Sutherland, which would take you west as it leads you into the Wilderness Area.)

From there you'll start your descent. Spend a few miles with amazing views of northwest Tucson before you get to your second junction, which is signed. This is the first split with Samaniego Ridge. From there you'll take a right and have a fast fun descent for about a mile to a third intersection (also signed). This is your second chance to split off onto Samaniego Ridge. Take another right and this will drop you into the Canada del Oro drainage.

The Canada del Oro then spends many miles riding along the creek and crossing it. This trail is the true definition of backwoods. It's a seldom traveled trail that is lightly marked. There are a few techy spots mixed in here and there but overall it is a great flowing trail through the deep oaks of Mt Lemmon. The wash crossings are the trickiest spot and be mindful when crossing them to keep your eyes open for cairns marking the entrance and exits. There are many sections of this trail that will leave you smiling ear to ear as you swoop through the oak trees or open fields of wildflowers. Don't forget to take a minute once you get out of the deep trees to look back at the top of Mt. Lemmon and see how far you've already descended off the mountain.

After about mile 9, you'll get to the junction with Red Ridge trail (signed). Keep heading north from there along what will become a somewhat unrideable rock-filled wash until you come to the Gap Road around mile 10.

Now on the Gap road, the pain of the climb heading west will begin. It's a pretty strenuous climb and is roughly 3-4 miles long. It's a steep road filled with loose rocks and deep ruts. It's also very exposed with almost no shade, so plan according to the weather down here and not for the weather on top of the 9000ft mountain you start at. There's also no water after you start the Gap Road so be prepared for that as well. The water along Canada is filterable. From the top of the climb you'll continue west down the Gap Road. From the road there will be many options to take to get back to your cars. The preferred method is the one this ride follows.

At roughly mile 15.5, there will be a split off of the Gap Road on some cow trails to get you over to the 50 year trail system. You'll need a gps or the mobile app to find your way through here. Once into the 50 year trail system, pick your favorite route back to the 50 year parking lot.


You & This Featured Ride

Rate Quality

   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Ride

Your Check-Ins


Dec 8, 2017
Nathan Beauchamp
24.8mi — 4h 39m
Nov 24, 2017
Lea Julson Gibbs
This is Tucson's "Whole Enchilada". Expert all-mountain ride.
Jan 19, 2016
Duane Brown

Trail Ratings

  3.6 from 18 votes


in Mt. Lemmon


  3.6 from 18 votes
5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star


in Mt. Lemmon


in Arizona


392 Views Last Month
13,614 Since May 8, 2013
Difficult Difficult

Ride CDO yesterday with 10 shredders. One of the funnest backwoods adventures trails in Arizona. Must do! Nov 25, 2017
Tbis Trail is an experience that everyone should try. Not for the faint at heart or dirt roadies who just want to pedal. It's an adventure full of technical descending and back country conditions. But this trail is as good as as many other well known destination trails like the Whole Enchilada. Thanks to TORCA for resurrecting this gem and the continued work on a truly epic trail. Nov 25, 2017
The CDO trail is more than a trail, it's an experience. This is a true, back-country trail that requires commitment to ride, but is so worth the time and effort to complete. If you're looking for a flowy alpine descent and want peak speed and minimal obstacles, look elsewhere. If you're adventurous and have a taste for the back-country, the CDO is among the best rides out there. The trail starts at the top of Mount Lemon at 9,000 or so feet and descends over chunky rock and natural stair steps down into an oak forest. You will encounter downed trees, make many creek crossings (dry in winter months, flowing in the spring) and have a great chance to see wildlife. I saw a bunch of whitetail and a family of coati on my ride. The downhill is intense and often technical. Expect some hike-a-bike at some creek crossings and over or around large boulders. At around 5,000 feet of elevation the the biom changes and so does the terrain. Lots of rocks and sun. It's a grind at points, and the 4x4 trail that leads over the ridge and to the "around the mountain" trail is steep and often technical. Back down the ridge, you'll encounter open desert with lots of scratchy stuff to claw at your legs and arms. It might be worth bringing shin and arm protectors to avoid looking like you lost a fight with Edward Scissor Hands. The desert section also has some confusing junctions and the trail is missing markers, so its not ideal to navigate on your own. I went with a local who knew the tails, and that was a VERY good idea. Check out Home Grown Mountain Bike Tours--they offer shuttles and guides as a reasonable price. This isn't a ride for the faint of heart, but for those that take on the challenge, the rewards are phenomenal. Stunning views, some ripping downhill, and technical that will push even a good rider--CDO has so much to offer. Dec 8, 2017

MTB Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Mountain Bike

MTB Project is supported by

Support Your Local IMBA Chapter