McKenzie Ranch has two main trail areas: on the left is the Hohokam Trail, a multi-use out-and-back trail, and on the right, the Competition Course.
The Competition Course has two loops, the Lozen Loop and the Dahteste Loop, sometimes known as the North Loop and South Loop. They are definitely worth doing together as a single ride. The loops must be ridden clockwise and if you do both loops the total distance is 9.7 miles. Despite being called a mountain bike course, it’s perfect for gravel bikes.
The area feels wonderfully open, and the riding is neither steep nor technical. It’s just lots of singletrack that winds back and forth, with gradual climbs and descents. Sometimes you are riding through beautiful ocatillo country, sometimes you don’t even notice the cactus, and sometimes you ride through prickly pear terrain, where you definitely notice the cactus.
The Hohokam Trail is to my mind less interesting. It’s slightly more rocky and perhaps slightly more technical. Since it’s a multi-use path, you are supposed to give way to horses and pedestrians if you see any. As you approach the end of the trail there’s a gate with a ramp you can ride over, and about a hundred yards past this you reach the road, railroad track, and large parking area. You also have great views of the hilltop castle to the west, variously known as the Aqua Verde Castle and the Durham Castle.
From Tucson drive down I-10 and take the exit for Sonoita and Hwy 83. Turn left and cross the bridge, then turn right on the Frontage Road. Follow this (it becomes Marsh Station Road) for 7.3 miles to Red Hill Ranch Road on the left. At this intersection you’ll see signs for the McKenzie Ranch Competition Course. Turn left and drive down the dirt road for 1.7 miles to the parking area on the right.
Links and Other Clicks
A guide to the McKenzie Ranch Trails Park.
A drone video of the Agua Verde Castle.