Fantasy Island is a wonderful area for mountain biking and gravel riding, on the east side of Tucson, right off The Loop bike path. Most people ride on mountain bikes but the loops are definitely doable on gravel bikes. The trails twist and turn, and the riding is endlessly enjoyable.
The more difficult trails are at the northern end, starting near the intersection of Irvington Road and Harrison. From the parking area on the SW side of the intersection, head south on the bike path and the trail starts on your left just after the cattle guard.
Really there are three loops and it makes a fun outing to do them all for a total of 11.8 miles. The individual distances are:
Lone Cactus – 6.6 miles
Christmas Tree – 1.4 miles
Burro Pit & Bo’s – 3.8 miles
I’ve done all three loops on a gravel bike but they are more fun on a mountain bike, especially the Burro Pit – B’s Loop. Many of the gullies are quite rocky and simply easier on a mountain bike.
The main loop is the wonderfully, endlessly twisty Lone Cactus Loop, which is mainly flat, but with many steep descents into and out of gullies.
If you notice trails crossing and wonder which way to go, continue straight on the trail you are on. The main decision point is where the trails all intersect. If you are doing Lone Cactus or Burro Pit, follow the Bypass sign.
If you do the Burro Pit Loop you’ll probably do Bo’s Loop as well. On the Burro Pit you’ll come across a 270 degree turn called Over and Under, but the Under part can be avoided on the left. If you enjoy terrifying yourself, at the intersection there’s a sign for The Shaft. This is a short but steep and scary variation down some bricks laid in the middle of a very rocky descent.
The Christmas Tree Loop has a very residential feeling as you end up riding very near to a new housing development.
The south end of Fantasy Island is much flatter and this is where the easier loops are. There is a big parking area on Valencia, where The Loop crosses Valencia.
These loops are very easily done on a gravel bike. Of the three loops Bunny’s Revenge is my favorite, but perhaps best of all is to do all three, counter-clockwise, starting up Bunny, then taking Snake Dance to Bunny’s Revenge, and continuing on Snake Dance and Bunny. As you go north on Bunny you twice find yourself in very strange bleak area which make me think of the African Veldt (not that I’ve ever been there.)
Most of the intersections are marked but some are not and it’s worth having the MtbProject app on your phone to assist when you are not sure which way to go (see main Mountain Bike page).