This is a 4 Star Route: a good ride, but not quite at 5 Star quality.
An easier route through the Patagonia Mountains that is very scenic. It is a shortened version of the Patagonia 50 route (thus the classification of 4 Star) that excludes the San Rafael Valley proper. But it does include the Harshaw Creek section (~ miles 3 to 7.5 and 24 to 27.5) with big, gnarly trees and distant views of crags and peaks.
The Mowry sector, named for an old mining ghost town, mile 14 to mile 19 ( ~ 5 miles) is unique to this route. This section is fast, slightly downhill, hard packed gravel riding.(Micro-video) . It starts in the cover of oak trees and gradually opens into views of the San Rafael Valley.
For a great overview of the riding in the Patagonia area, give a read to “Patagonia, A Gravel Utopia”, by Caffeine and Watts.
The route goes very near the Hermosa Project mine (~ mile 10). Yes, the project is controversial, but we encourage you as riders to be courteous and give way to mining trucks (i.e. stop and put a foot down). There are other and better forums for debating the merits of mining than on a gravel road.
Also, the area is actively patrolled by Border Patrol. As a general rule, when we come across Border Patrol for the first time in the day, we stop and ask if “there’s anything we should be aware of” and we provide them our route.
Adventure / Gravel Route
– Lollipop: 31 miles / 1700 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 80% gravel, 20% paved
– eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: ~ 1 hour, 5 min south of Tucson, Arizona
– Published: January 2020 (updated December 2020)
Technical Difficulty & Risk[what this means]
Easier+. Overall, the gravel is hard-packed with a little washboard. There is a little loose over hardpack on the climbs. Expect little cell phone coverage and to see a few vehicles on your journey.
35 to 40 mm tires are a good selection for this route.
You can also add to this route by doing the Guajolote Flat extension (map, extension in black). This adds ~ 5 miles and 500+ feet of gain, giving ride totals of 33 miles and 2200 feet. This loop completely changes the character of the ride. It is remote, steep (20% pitches, two), loose, rocky and rutted. Best tackled with 50 mm tires or better. Captain O would do it again, Gravel Girl not so much. However, it has a couple of excellent viewpoints.
For help with GPS files, the RideWithGPs mapping app and to learn how to download our routes for free, see the “Using Our Rides” page.