This is a wonderful ride in beautiful country. The road twists and turns, climbs and dives, with the road surface varying between not-so-good and silky smooth. Fortunately the not-so-good parts are short lived. Most of the climbs are short and sweet, but there are a few longer climbs. The ride from Sonoita to Parker Canyon Lake and back is about 57 miles with 3,500 feet of climbing.
The best place to park in Sonoita is at the Santa Cruz County Fair and Rodeo Association grounds, about 200 yards south on Hwy 83 from the main intersection of Highways 82 and 83.
From here, head south on Hwy 83. After many rollers, the first long climb is around mile 17, or MM 14. At mile 17.5 you pass the turnoff to Fort Huachuca.
The next section, between the turnoff and the lake, is not as steeply rolling as the first section, although it has some longer hills. Eventually you make a long descent to what you think must be the lake, only to be faced with another climb past three switchbacks. Another descent surely takes you to the lake, but another climb tells you No. But the next descent really does lead down to the lake. At the junction, take the left fork down to the marina.
As you ride back, you are now faced with climbing all the rollers from the other side. While there’s less climbing on the way back, it feels just as difficult as your legs are suffering from the ride to the lake. Or at least mine were. Rode this 4/18/2019.
Links and Other Clicks
The Fort Huachuca Loop shares some of the same road but is spoiled by the long boring section on Hwy 82. The Parker Canyon Lake ride is better and involves less bureaucracy.