With more than 500 miles of metro bikeways, Tucson is one of the best places to bike in America. See for yourself during this half-day itinerary, which is designed for intermediate to advanced cyclists.
Bicyclists of all stripes will feel at home on the (mostly) flat streets of the "Old Pueblo," where nearly all city streets feature spacious, clearly designated bike paths. Tucson's Pima County is also currently in the process of completing an ambitious 55-mile multi-use biking trail that will loop around Metro Tucson. When it's completed, "The Loop" will connect many of the city's major parks and communities.
Tucson's El Tour de Tucson draws hundreds of cyclists from around the world — Photo courtesy of Dave Bezaire and Susi Havens-Bezaire
But although the city's major urban loop is not yet complete, the city has no shortage of great bike paths to explore. For example, the 34-mile McCain Loop is a popular trail that takes cyclists from the urban heart of the city to the sweeping, picture-perfect views of its pristine desert.
The route begins in central Tucson at the campus of the University of Arizona and continues on to Tucson's historic downtown district. This part of the ride is smooth and flat. Take the time to fuel up at the Cup Cafe before continuing on to the more challenging parts of the ride. Cup Cafe is located off the lobby of the Hotel Congress, serving an eclectic selection of American comfort food classics with gourmet flair.
Afterwards, head back on the trail, which winds past downtown and into west Tucson, one of the oldest parts of town. The road steadily climbs here, with clusters of saguaros dotting the scenic hillsides. The path leads into Tucson Mountain Park, where you can stop to take in the mountain views, drink water and use the restroom.
The McCain bike loop takes you through Tucson's majestic Gates Pass — Photo courtesy of Joshin Yamada
Continue on through the sloping mountain roads of Gates Pass, one of the most popular and scenic mountain passes in southern Arizona. There are several pull-out points to enjoy the stunning desert panoramas. Gates Pass is a favorite scenic drive destination, so take caution when navigating the narrow (and sometimes crowded) mountain pass.
From here, the trail descends into the Avra Valley west of Tucson Mountain Park. The road here is flat and fast.
Follow the signs to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, one of the most popular attractions in town. The museum showcases the native plants and creatures of the Sonoran Desert. There is a restaurant and cafeteria where you can enjoy lunch or dinner before heading back into town.