Santa Cruze Arroyo section / the loop Trail
We found the LOOP trail on the Tucson municipal website. They have a pretty good PDF of the trail map online. Five days ago I rode 26 miles along the Rillito Arroyo route of the trail. Today we rode 8.2 miles along the next section of the trail as you go counter- clockwise around the loop.
We prefer bike trails that are reasonably flat, reasonably well maintained, that go through places where one would want to spend time, that has things like fresh air not polluted by motor vehicles, trees or other natural things to view. Asphalt or concrete pavement. Straight or curved doesn't matter.
But as it turns out most rails to trails projects end up with straight trails mostly, which is ok. This trail, the loop, is not a rails to trails resource. It's a bike trail that goes along an Arroyo. According to a dictionary, an Arroyo is a small steep-sided watercourse or gulch with a nearly flat floor, and is usually dry except after rains. They are usually designed so that the Arroyo won't be full unless the rains are especially heavy, even extreme.
Tucson has several of these drainage ditches, and has placed in many cases along both sides a nice paved trail, complete with landscaping, restrooms, trailhead parking, and other features of a professionally designed bike trail facility.
The Santa Cruz Arroyo section also has these features, much like the Rillito Arroyo section. This 8.2 mile ride started at Christopher Columbus Park near El Camino Del Cerro Street in northwest Tucson. At this park there are very nice parking and bathroom facilities, and easy access to I-10 just down the street. Likewise at the turn around spot today, Juan Juhan Park, there were also parking and bathroom facilities.
The route has a few bridges, but mostly is a very nice smooth ride on well maintained asphault trail. Tucson has done a great job on this project, and when completed it should set Tucson apart. It is an outstanding addition to the city, and it is a tourist attraction, and it facilitates city events, not to mention the fact that it encourages citizens and visitors toward bicycling, which is an element of behavior which is a part of a healthy lifestyle.
The main idea is to get fresh air, good exercise that is a good experience and is good for most everybody, and is a pleasant pastime. In Arizona, the winter is very favorable for this kind of outside activity. For this kind of activity, one wants the temperature to be between 45F and 80F, which lines up well with Tucson winter temperatures.
The other side of that coin is if you're going to go on this trail, then don't do it in the summer. Tucson in the summer is blisteringly hot, with temperatures well above 100F being the normal highs. Of course one doesn't have the broiling humidity that one experiences in the midwest here in the summer. But the sun is particulary hot in Tucson, hence outside activity is discouraged in Tucson in the summer.
So to summarize, Tucson is a great place to ride your bike from about November until about the end of March, or perhaps April, depending on the year.
For the most part, this trail is in very good condition, and by most standards is well maintained. Clearly Tucson wants to be known as a town that wants bicycle tourists to come and visit and ride on their excellent bike trails.
For this ride, I had my trailer hitched up to the trike, and I had my pack with my water bottle, and Pearl the wonderdog was riding in the trailer too. So I was pulling a trailer that weighed about 85 pounds loaded. There was a nice 10mph breeze blowing uphill, so that ballanced the effort out between the ride upstream (heading north in this section) of the arroyo and downstream (southward headed). It was a beautiful day with the temperature in the shade of about 62 degrees and it felt wonderful to spend the time this way.
It's good for aerobic exercise, and it's free, safe, clean, and well maintained. I highly recommend it. The loop has more than 100 miles of trail, and it has another 50 miles planned or under construction. It's a truely excellent facility. Bravo Tucson!
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Last Update: November 17, 2014
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