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- Sunday, September 15, 2019

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 South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

Packed up Dusty Bottoms' truck last Friday with me and E36 Truth on board and headed to Phoenix to ride South Mountain. Now before you check out these pictures below I want to say we did not capture even 1/100 of the insaneness of these trails in our pictures. Most of the time we were just too busy riding. It is an amazing, amazing mountain.

Arrived at the trailhead at about 8:30am Saturday morning and headed up the Mormon Trail. This is challenging and scenic method to climb up the mountain - lots of technical climbing, but the grade is so slight you can keep a lot of momentum and try to clean everything. Lots of hikers on the way up (whole mountain is multi-use), but all very friendly.

After 3 or 4 miles we connect with the famous National Trail to continue our climb to the top. Very soon on the climb we reached the waterfall section of National. We stopped for some photos (a billion I believe)...good stuff:

Dusty Bottoms - child's play to Yoda:

To make things interesting, Dusty tried a new line:

What the hell, I'll give it a try:

Since Yoda was able to clean the second line, young Skywalker figured he'd try too:

Continued on up National Trail and reached the Buena Vista parking lot, a very central point for a few gnarly drops, but we were headed to the far west end of the mountain to ride Telegraph Pass. On the way I got a flat, but it was in a very scenic section, so the stop was welcomed. This section of National Trail from BV parking lot to Telegraph Pass is a great stretch. It's probably 3 or 4 miles, rolling and technically challenging in spots.

We reached Telegraph Pass, lowered the seats and headed down. In hindsight, we didn't even come close to documenting the severity of this trail, but just know the drops and stair steps rival Tunnel. Right off the bat, I flipped and crashed - HARD. Chunck out of the helmet, blood pouring from the knee, and my shoulder with a huge knot on it. E36 said he heard it and it was LOUD. I stopped for my breath and continued down. Here's a few shots of Telegraph:

Very near the section I biffed:

E36 Truth in one of the easier sections, but the angle was nice for a quick pic:

Hiked back up Telegraph because it was the quickest way to get back headed in the right direction towards our next target, Holbert Trail. We had a little trouble finding the trailhead, but we found it after asking around a bit. Holbert Trail I think Dusty and E36 Truth will agree, was the gem. It is 2 or 3 miles of relentless Tunnel-style terrain. Here are a few pics:

Me hoping to god I'm back far enough:

Nick in the same spot on the verge of the drop...he cleaned it just fine:

This section is a little harder than the picture shows, but a nice angle as Dusty rumbles through:

Nick in the same section looking focused:

Down a little ways, a very cool bouldery section. Me perched up in the rocks for a Dusty attempt:

Me on the verge of the same section:

Continued on after Holbert Trail to a somewhat long road ride back up the mountain to drop Corona Loma....a 4 mile, very loose, technical, and steep drop. For whatever reason, we didn't stop for pictures; maybe because it was getting late, but what a great trail this is. If you go, do not miss it. The only downside is it connects you with the Desert Classic Trail, a very boring flat return to the parking lot, but not too bad.

Headed back out on Sunday morning and decided we wanted some more Holbert Trail action. Climbed Mormon/National and descended again. Couple of notable wrecks...E36 truth at the boulder section and me slipping off the trail and bouncing 10 feet down a rocky slope. This fall sucked as it gave me a huge drilling on my thigh. I'm limping today still.

We climbed back up via the north side of Mormon that drops to the residential. I'm glad we did, because we found a gem of a descent to hit the next time. really crazy technical rivaling Telegraph and Holbert. When we got back up we descended the section of National we had been missing. Fast and fun with some technical sections tossed in. Then over to climb Javalina and descend Ridge Line. Ridge Line was fun when it finally got pointed down. Fast, steep, and loose.

Back to the truck, packed up and headed home about 12:30pm PST. Tired, bruised and happy. Very happy. This trail system is just spectacular. All multi-use and run by the city. I want to go back soon...with a beefier bike.

A little taste of Mormon/National Trail scenery on the climb:



Posted by Matt90272 a 29 year old Racer riding a Cannondale Jekyll from Pacific Palisades on 01/21/02


Responses: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) (18) (19) (20) (21) (22) (23) Post Reply

  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    Killer, I want to go there. "Rock and Roll" is what it's all about. Total technical skill--tho I probably need a better knee brace!
    Posted by Jackson a 41 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a motobecane & specialized from NM,AZ on 03/07/03

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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    Rock on guy's!nice pics. great story.
    Awesome place,awesome trails,a couple beers and mexican food after the ride. life is good! have to make it there one of these days. you guys rock!

    Posted by Ramon a 36 year old Weekend Warrior riding a Gary Fisher . from Lakewood on 03/03/03

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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    Major credit is due for your efforts in taking such good photos and a great write up of a great looking place. Can't wait to hit it next week! Thanks.
    Posted by Trailbuilder a 48 year old riding a Blurred from Claremont on 02/28/03

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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    i have ridden south mountain once. it was awsome. it is unlike any other trial i have ever riden. any one who has never been there GO. it is worth it. my incle lives less than a mile from where a trail can be picked up so i generall renta bike and ride to the trail seeing as i am from indiana. I am shipping my bike out this year for spring break and my buddie is going with me(not a mountain biker , yet) he wants to run the trail... we'll see. i am hoping to ride all week but who knows i may have to sleep or something. we'll see. and for those of you that are going, if you like ribs or steak be sure and stop at an old el paso restaraunt. the ribs are to die for and the steaks aren't half bad either. of and great pics mon
    Posted by Dan-o a 17 year old Weekend Warrior riding a diamond back, topanga comp disc. from indiana usa on 02/27/03

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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    After looking at the photos the trails look familiar. Back when I road them there was alot more sand on top of the rocks. If you ever go again try to do it in mid Aug. when it is 105f + out. There will be no hikers, especially if you go mid week. Just bring lots of water.

    Slainte
    Posted by Dirtbikedude68 a Downhiller riding a Kona Stinky and a Giant OCR from Chatsworth on 09/27/02


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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    SHHHHHEEEESH! I GIVE UP!!!
    Posted by Andy a 32 year old Die-hard Enthusiast from Hollywood on 02/21/02

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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    thanks for the pics and stories. As a result, my buds and I took a side trip to south mt. reserve while in Ph for business last weekend. Did bits of javalena, Mormon and national. fun stuff. many scrapes and adventures. We also rode some in North mt reserve (right next to our hotel). Not as technical but still offering some interesting single track and climbs.
    Posted by Vern vern mc vern a 38 year old Weekend Warrior riding a c'dale jekyll 3000 caude my raven died from simi valley on 02/20/02

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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    It's posts like this that keep me coming back for more.
    Outstanding!
    Posted by Veinman riding a Mrs. Jones from the ghetto on 02/03/02

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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    Hey Matt,
    I bet you took those pix with the new camera (Canon A20, Hey how the heck do you clear the damn card for I can take more pix?) I believe.Great job you guys.After seeing Dusty at OC72 I didn't suspect you rocket powered MTBers would ask him for a cross country type ride.And you didn't.That place has to have a skill level of around a 9.5 or better from the pix I see.I got to admit it though I still would love to try it.Hey Nick you have to schedule one of these rides for us older slower type guys.Quite a few people are talking about Sedona,I'm ready.
    Posted by Pain Freak a 46 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a Specialized F/S M4 from Fontana,CA on 01/26/02

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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    Great photos. I spent three days in Tempe and rode south moumtain every morning. Your photos bring it all back to me.

    Posted by Mpilot a 44 year old Cross-Country from granada hills, ca on 01/23/02

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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    I've ridden south mountain a couple of times, one of the best parks, EVER!!!!

    Now i want to go back!
    Posted by BKR a 32 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a Pick one from Costa Mesa on 01/23/02


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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    That is what I aspire to. 45 miles of heart throbbing joy in the saddle on the Bullit. Maybe next lifetime, but I’ve underlined my goals this run-through. What is it that our poor academically incarcerated PhD candidate said at the first TrailRiders meeting – “Mountainbiking is not going out for a picnic.” This is the dope, as far as I’m concerned. Good work gang!

    I was going to register a new board name – Faucet Face, as the cold/flu I have is beyond belief in its production abilities. I feel like crap and after reading this, I still want to grab the ‘red and saucy’ and pump her springs.

    EEYOWZA!!!
    Posted by Gusitar a enuf year old Die-hard Enthusiast from S&M/Bentwood on 01/22/02


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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    One picture I archived, but forgot to post. A really nice landscape shot with Dusty coming out of a nice little chute:

    Posted by Matt90272 a 29 year old Racer riding a Cannondale Jekyll from Pacific Palisades on 01/22/02

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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    What a great way to spend a break here at work. Checking out great pictures and great narrative as well. Looked like the total adventure. Some of those drops were really twisted looking! Thanks!

    Posted by STP a 42 year old riding a K2 Razorback from Palmdale on 01/22/02

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  •  Sweet pics!

    maybe I should add Phoenix to my road trip in May.....looks like fun!

    you guys have mad game
    Posted by SmootheDSENDR on 01/22/02


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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    "XC GEEKS TERRORIZE SOUTH MOUNTAIN!" -is what the Phoenix Times sports section headline read on Monday morning. Or at least it should have. What an UNBELIEVABLE weekend of riding I had, accompanied by Matt90324678634578 and E36758234758374059Truth. When Matt and I first started making plans for this weekend, and then Nick decided to join I was thinking to myself, "great, I'm going to Phoenix with 2 xc racers on their 14 pound bikes, and I'm stuck with the Jolly Green Bullit." I was not sure how this whole thing was going to play out, but I did picture myself withering in the baking sun after being xc'd into submission by these flyweight fools. Oh well, I thought at least I'd get to see some teeth get knocked out on the descents.

    We woke up at the Ritz Carlton on Saturday morning, and headed on over to the Charthouse for a little brunch. Then it was on to SOUTH MOUNTAIN. We pulled into the parking area, filled with cars, but not that many bike racks. Weird. I was excited to see that my 2 riding mates had opted for some baggy shorts instead of their standard 1 piece racing leotard. "You guys wear tights? No, we don't wear tights, we wear the required uniform. Yeah, tights!" Onto the bikes I quickly noticed that Nick doesn't even bother with a small ring on his cranks, "Great!", I thought silently. We hit the fire road into the interior of the area and Matt gave us a quick run down on the park and how it was run by the city, and how EVERY SINGLE TRAIL IN THE ENTIRE PARK WAS MULIT-USE. Wow.

    Onward to the climb up Mormom trail, then up on National, Nick making quick work of some freakishly steep climbs. Hikers everywhere, all super cool, and then we came to the Waterfall section. This is a section that has had more pictures taken of it and posted on mtbr.com then any other section in the world. I was under the impression that it had to be nearly impossible to get down, but I was mistaken. We got to the top, and scoped out all the options, about 5 ways down, we rode the spine and the rider's far left line.

    We continued with our climb up National to Buena Vista, and eventually to the top of Telegraph Pass trail. Matt warned us that we COULD die on this trail, and to get ready. I was having trouble seeing the trail since it was COVERED with hikers. One good sign was watching many of the hikers below fall on their way down. -Insert sound clip of chops being licked here- Some hikers at the top wished us luck, but I knew they were staying at the viewpoint so they could watch us plummet to our demise. Here we go... I started in and the rock drops were moderate, and then bigger, and more twisted, and tighter, and steeper. It was very hard to negotiate these sections while smiling and saying "Hi!" to 50 hikers. Then I heard a "thud" so I stopped, it was Matt taking a little dirt nap a couple sections above. He brushed off and we continued. A mile or so later it flattens out and I look back at this monster and think "That's multi-use? God bless Arizona." This trail left us in a void in the park so we hiked back up this steep bee-eye-itch, and traversed our way over to the Holbert trail.

    Holbert drops off the opposite side of the range from Telegraph, and basically, this is the best trail I've ridden in a long time. Very rythmic sections, big stunts, off camber slots, the whole nine. After I would finish a hairy spot I kept thinking, "sweet, stop here and watch these little men on their little bikes pile up!" Boy was I in for a weekend of disappointment. They were always right behind me, slicing up the trail, smiling with all their teeth firmly in place. Damn...


    After Holbert we decided to go back up to the top via a nice 7 mile road grind. There's nothing I like better than a road climb on 2.5 tires. However, Matt had hooked me up with my first shot EVER of Hammergel, and the rest is history. Back at Buena Vista we dropped in on a little hidden gem called Corona Loma. This one gives a very remote feel, in and out of a canyon, then down the backside with some nice loose rock sections and tight turns. This dumps us onto the Desert Classic trail which we rode out to our car to finish our 45 mile ride. Who in the hell do I think I am riding 45 miles in one day?

    Then it was onto to Tempe for a little dinner, then back to the Ritz asleep by 8 o'clock. Sunday we woke up, more fine dining, up Mormom, up National to Buena Vista, down Holbert, then hiked up on the lower section of Mormom, which looks to be as tasty as the other drops, down National, then down on Ridgeline to the car.

    People, all of you need to go to South Mountain and experience the bliss of a properly run multi-use park. No angry faces, no cruel remarks, nothing! Just dozens of crazy trails for all levels of riders. Matt and Nick, thank you for a great weekend of rides, you've made me realize that my middle ring isn't just there for looks, it can actually be used!

    Good luck to you.




    Posted by Dusty Bottoms riding a Motiv RockRidge on 01/22/02


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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    Very nice pics guys! BizangoBoy and I were out there two years ago and had a blast on National and Mormon. Your post has me Jonesin for a re-visit.


    Posted by Upchuck on 01/21/02


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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    Nice stuff!!!

    Once again, I live vicariously thru Dusty and pals...

    If I can just keep my body in 1 piece until my kids are old enough to tackle serious mtb terrain, then these kind of adventures could become "family vacations."

    Scary thought...


    Posted by MTB Addict a 42 year old riding a SCZ Superlight from South OC on 01/21/02


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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    Great shots, and truly impressive riding by you guys. I've gotta get back to South Mountain someday to explore that place beyond the standard Mormon/National loop. One question: Did anyone do the spine line on Waterfall? That thing is sick.
    Posted by ODB on 01/21/02

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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ


    I don't want to hear it nor see it, you guys suck!
    Yoda already gave me an ear-full and I am plenty envious.
    Skywalker I and II are getting pretty damn good; I think it's time for graduation.
    You would think with all the riding gear and clothing Yoda owns, he would wear riding socks instead of his black dress socks on rides. I don't get it?
    As if all this wasn’t enough to kill most of us, Yoda is out doing 2 gnarly rides today, WTF?

    Nice pics pumpkin!

    In all seriousness, you guys are not human, you're a bunch of mutants!



    Posted by Dark Helmet on 01/21/02


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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    Great photos and riding! Looks like you guys had a blast. That makes everything around here look really tame.
    Posted by Heckler from San Diego on 01/21/02

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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    WOW!! what fantastic scenery! looks like a suitably challenging time was had by all over that punishing terrain...most impressed ;)
    thanks for showing me site, and i look fwd to viewing more fit men in cycling shorts soon (maybe more taught-buns shots next time?! dusty or otherwise is fine :p)

    keep up the good work, ride the ride and stay whole...
    what studs u are!! :))
    love mxx
    Posted by Minxy a 32 year old Weekend Warrior riding a TCB mark 2002, (millenium model) from Venice, CA on 01/21/02


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  •  Re: South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

    Wow. I have to thank you guys for taking the time to take photos. I know how easy it is to just ride, and forget about documenting anything. Without those photos, I would have no idea how necessary it is for me to get out there and ride those trails. Excellent write up and story. Thanks Matt8675...309.

    Posted by ReFleX on 01/21/02

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