The Pistol Hill to 3 Bridges is a popular out-and-back section of the Arizona Trail, about 18 miles and 1,700 feet of climbing. It can be started at either end. It’s a pretty ride, varied, with beautiful views of Rincon Peak and Mica Mountain.
Drive east on Spanish Trail to Pistol Hill. Turn left on Pistol Hill and follow the dirt road for 1.9 miles to the trailhead on the right.
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 3 miles to the Gabe Zimmerman trailhead on the right. Park here then ride north along the road for about 0.4 miles to where the Arizona Trail crosses the road. Turn left onto the trail.
I’ll describe this from the Pistol Hill trailhead. Basically follow the trail south for about 9 miles. It’s well marked with signs for the Arizona Trail. The initial section is sandy and flowing but the next section is the rockiest part of the trail. None of the rocky sections are too bad, although I walked my bike over a few, especially on the way back.
Somewhere around 5 miles you start a gradual climb to the high point of the trail (in the photo above), but the climb is pretty straightforward. Then follows about 3 miles of mainly downhill. Going down I thought it might be tough coming back up but it turned out to be much easier than I expected.
Eventually you see the bridges at Marsh Station Road and ride under them to the road. Turn round and ride back the way you came for an enjoyable day.
Links and Other Clicks
MTB Project’s page about this ride