This ride is not for the faint of heart! It will require all the strength in your legs, all the OXYGEN you can gasp into your lungs, and then some grit & determination to reach the TOP!
In the distance south of the Tucson metro area loom 2 peaks – to the left is Mt Wrightston (reached via a hiking trail) and to the right is Mt Hopkins (reached via your mountain bike).
I describe this ride as a "roadies mountain bike ride." You'll need the mountain bike for the wash board dirt road & lower gears. The ride is on dirt & paved roads. Visiting astronomers ascend the mountain in regular passenger vehicles.
Our ride climbs about 5,000 feet to the top of Mt Hopkins. The first 7 miles are on a fairly steep dirt road, gaining elevation by twisting upwards around the lower section of the mountain & rolling through the early morning shade of several canyons. The next 5 miles continue up into the pines, past several telescope sites on a steeper paved road. Then the final half-mile the grade gets VERY steep – especially the last 300 feet!! The view at the top is SPECTACULAR!! You will have to do the ride to see the posted sign on the telescope building at the top.
Ride STARTS at 6 AM at Whipple Visitor Center . Directions: from Tucson , drive south on I-19 past Green Valley. Exit at Canoa Rd. , go under I-19 and continue south on the EAST frontage road to Elephant Head Rd. Turn LEFT here and continue for a mile or so, across the railroad tracks, RIGHT on Mt Hopkins Road (if you come to the dog leg heading north, you've gone too far). Continue up Mt Hopkins Road about 6 miles until you reach Whipple Visitor Center .
Park your car here and drag your mountain bike out. Bring plenty of WATER and energy food! No water available at the top. USE CAUTION going downhill – there can be an occasional vehicles coming up.
OPTIONAL Post-Ride HIKE. If you didn't get "enough" on the bike ride, there MAY be a small group who will drive around to Madera Canyon and HIKE to Josephine Saddle (about a 7 mile RT hike). Bring EXTRA water & food for this OPTIONAL side hike. There is a $5/day parking charge in Madera Canyon (or use your Sabino Canyon/Mt Lemmon annual pass). Hike is dependent on weather/monsoon conditions and subject to cancellation.
Ride Leaders: Debbie Williams DebbieWRealtor@att.net 520-248-4663 and Bill Borland BBorland@theriver.net 520-300-1988. The Paniolo Ranch - bed & breakfast, weekly, monthly rentals, vacation rentals, short term housing events, equestrian center, cycle Tucson.