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Level: Intermediate
Length: 13 mi (20.9 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Loop
Elevation: +2,767/2 ft
Total: 316 riders

Mountain Biking McDowell Mountain Park

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#31 of 422 mountain bike trails in Arizona
#830 in the world

This trail is great. It is not as rocky as other Phoenix area trails( ie: Trail 100, National, Estrella Mtn Park). Twisty singletrack on rolling contour. The surface consists of small pebbles which make a nice ripping sound as you careen through the turns. These are one way loops, there are three total. The sport, technical, and long loop. Distances are ~ 3 , 3 , 6.5. Enjoy.

First added by petersbike on Dec 14, 2004. Last updated May 9, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
From Phoenix area, get on the 101 and head to east side of loop( either N or S) . Near Scottsdale take the Shea blvd exit and head east towards Fountain Hills. Take a left on Mcdowell mtn park road and go approximately 10 miles. Take left in to park. Sign reads competitive track. May have to pay; 5 dollars on weekend. Trailhead is up road on left few hundred yards.
System trails (5)
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McDowell Mountain Park Trail map

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jashay77 (on Jun 21, 2020)
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Dusty (on Sep 23, 2020)
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McDowell Mountain Park videos

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McDowell Mountains Ride
Pre race ride, McDowell Mountains Sport…
Pemberton CCW East Side
McDowell Mountain park, tech loop to…
McDowell Regional Park Competitive Mountain Bike…

Mountain Bike Trails Near Phoenix, Arizona

Beginner | 10 mi
Advanced | 5 mi

Rider questions

Q: does it matter what time of day to go?
A: In summer, go really early. In winter you can go later after it warms up a bit.

Q: can you ride at night
A: No

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  • ABhardtail   ✓ supporter

    Super fun! I rode the Sport and Technical loops. They are fast, flowy, well laid out with great signage, and well maintained. It would be hard to get lost here. Doing those 2 loops totaled 500ft climbing. The desert/ mountain environment is beautiful, especially around sunset. There is a large parking lot with bathrooms that have running water. The Technical loop has a pair of steep / drop features right at the beginning (with options to go around) and those are the gnarliest parts of the trail, though later in that loop there are also some fast and bumpy stretches. A good hardtail should be just fine here.

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  • chuckpelley
    Reviewing Tonto Pass:

    Challenging and fun. Smooth and yet rockie technical areas. Enjoyed seeing the Dixie Mine. We did the trail in two directions.

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  • Christopher M   ✓ supporter

    Great set of trails. As everyone has mentioned there are 3 loops, the 3 mile technical, 3 mile sport and the 6.5 long. I rode each one today and putting them together makes for a great ride. There are some steep downhills and some short, steep climbs but nothing that an intermediate rider couldn't handle. There is also a pump track in the parking lot as an added bonus. The major drawback is that you have to pay, $7 per vehicle or $2 if you are riding in. I would think that for the price they could have at least unlocked the bathrooms in the parking lot.

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  • Jeff Goldberg

    The sport loop is great trail to warm up on. it has a lot of challenging sections and plenty of places to practice tight turns.

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  • stlarsen21
    Reviewing Pemberton Loop:

    April 2019. Trail is perfect right now. Weather is great, blooming flowers and low dust. This trail is beginner level and a low impact ride.

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  • abgundy
    Reviewing Pemberton Loop:

    Great ride, fast and flowy, and lots of intersecting trails allow for a ride of anything from 5-15 miles or more. I'll definitely be back.

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  • TK34
    Reviewing Pemberton Loop:

    I'll call it 3 stars, but there's nothing wrong with this trail. Just understand that's its pretty flat, virtually zero tech - a very good trail for a beginner or you just want some miles. Going clockwise, the first roughly half is gentle climb and second half is mostly a nice long flowy decent.
    UPDATE: Just did Brown's Ranch Perimeter Loop. Enjoyed it more than Pemberton.

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  • Ray Southwick

    Sport loop is a lot of fun. A short, but quick and easy 3 mile loop. Almost all downhill after the first mile.

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  • nightbadger

    I went today (Wednesday) and there was an entrance fee. $6 per car or $2 to ride in. I parked my car at a pullout before getting to the entrance and rode in and saved $4. Also, the mtb trails are the first thing you see when you get to the park, so the ride in is easy as pie.

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  • stolireef

    I rode the Sport Loop today. I am a newbie to mountain biking and found this challenging but doable. At 51 years old, I try to avoid doing things that are likely to cause broken bones and with only a few very minor exceptions, I was more excited than nervous on the trail. The first loop was hard for me but the second time around, I had much more confidence. From a complete beginner's perspective, there are some technical features such as switchbacks on a downhill or the 'double dip' area. That said, my bet is that if I ride this a few more times, I'll be cake. If you're not fit for cardio, expect to take breaks on the uphills.

    Overall, it was a great and exciting experience that I can't wait to duplicate.

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  • Ncurtisi13

    Fun ride. I did the sport loop twice. Surprised to have a pretty empty trail (except for the snake, but he didn't look like he had a rattle).

    It's probably a bit too hard for beginners, but would be good for beginners trying to expand their horizon. It starts pretty easy with a gentle uphill, but it gets better after you pass the phallic cactus. There's a couple sweet features on the sport loop, a "double dip" (couple fun, but easy, drops), and some nice berms on the back end. Great way to practice keeping control of the bike for tougher rides.

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  • mongwolf   ✓ supporter

    Nice trails for beginners. Smooth buttery trails. Tons of flow. Easy climbs. Lots of distance. GREAT desert scenery.

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  • Mabryd
    Reviewing Pemberton Loop:

    The Pemberton loop, like all of McDowell Mtn Park's trails, are a real treat for anyone who likes smooth flowing rides through the desert. They even periodically groom the trails with a sweeper. Wouldn't have believed it until I saw it in action couple of days ago. The Pemberton does have a couple of short rocky mildly technical sections but overall it's just fun to ride.

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  • Spikem
    Reviewing Pemberton Loop:

    We are newbies of last 4 months and Granite to Lariat to Pemberton is fun and relatively easy. What a nice view and ride.

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  • dhurdle

    Not at all a technical challenge like so many rock-garden AZ trails. But still great fun single track loop. Pretty much all gradual uphill to 1/2 way and then oh-so-fun flowy all downhill on the return. Also great "fitness" loop at 15.3 mi. Highly recommended for what it is

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  • crporter2

    Rode the Sport Loop - great flow track with lots of fun banked turns. Very fast trail (3 miles or so) with lots of turns, hills, jumps for some fun riding. Two more loops link up with the sport loop - the Long Loop and the Technical Loop (haven't had a chance to try them out yet).

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  • jashay77   ✓ supporter

    Pemberton Trail is a good beginners 15 mile workout with a few rocky areas that up the difficulty slightly. I prefer to ride it clockwise to do the climbing over rocky terrain and then be able to enjoy flowing singletrack on the downhill leg back to the trailhead.

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