Some people think the Honeybee Canyon area has the most beautiful mountain biking around Tucson. It provides a feeling of remoteness, and if you have never ridden here before, a constant feeling of being lost, not knowing which way to go.
There are dirt roads that criss cross the area, there are obvious intersections where trails head off in different directions, and there are trails that subtly branch off without warning. Navigation is difficult because there are no signs, nothing to show where the different trails go. I had to stop countless times to check where I was on the MTBProject app (did I mention that this app is well worth downloading if you are mountain biking around Tucson?), and many times I had to backtrack as I’d missed a trail. But don’t let this put you off; the riding is wonderful. You can also download .gpx files of the rides from mtbproject.com. Yes, I know I should have downloaded the gpx files.
Drive north on Oracle (Hwy 77) almost to the town of Catalina. Just before Catalina, and just past MM 85, you’ll see E. Miravista Lane on the left, and a big sign for the Vista de la Montaña United Methodist Church. Turn left here and park in the big dirt parking area on the right. Ride towards the church but a couple of hundred yards before you reach it, the trail heads off to the left (there are small signs to it).
Don’t let the problem of navigation put you off, because the riding here is fantastic. Go with someone who knows the area, or be prepared to use the MTBProject app, or ride here enough that you learn the trails.
The main loop, Honeybee Canyon Loop, is beautiful and varied, with lots of easy singletrack (which could easily be ridden on a gravel bike), a small amount of deep sand near the start, and several very rocky areas that are much more pleasant on a mountain bike. The loop is 19.5 miles, is classified as an Intermediate loop, and is generally ridden counter-clockwise. Going out is very gradually uphill, while coming back is very gently downhill.
From the Honeybee Canyon Loop, there are other loops and out-and-backs you can also ride. On my first time here I added the Badlands Trail and Window Rock Loop for a ride of about 27 miles. The Badlands Trail adds to the feeling of remoteness, and the best riding on the ride was the Window Rock Loop as it twisted and turned around the rocks.
The Ridgeline loop gives you some significant climbing and takes you high up into the Tortolita Mountains and some beautiful views. (The two black trails to its left are perhaps better ridden from the Wild Burro trailhead at the Dove Mountain Resort.)