Routes » Coconino Loopby Chad B
The Coconino Loop seeks to highlight the best of Northern Arizona mountain biking. From buffed singletrack among the pines of Flagstaff to technical red rock Sedona country, this ~250 mile loop is a grand tour of Coconino Country.
Starting in downtown Flagstaff, access to singletrack is not far. Urban bike paths lead directly to quality Arizona Trail singletrack. The AZT navigates through the labyrinth of Walnut Canyon, traverses Anderson Mesa then wraps around the perimeter of Mormon Lake. After some 40 miles of AZT, the Coconino Loop follows forest roads to descend into Sedona along Schnleby Hill, first on a dirt road, then on technical singletrack — the Munds Wagon Trail.
Food and mystical curiosities can be found in Sedona. The route rides through town briefly before resuming singletrack with stunning red rock views and plenty of technical challenges. Nearly non-stop trail leads out of the Sedona area to a historical trail, Lime Kiln, that links Sedona and the town of Cottonwood.
Water up in Cottonwood, then ready yourself for the hardest part of the route — attaining Mingus Mountain. Mingus is not that massive, but the climbing is steep, first on graded roads, then 4×4 then singletrack. At the top imagine flying off the mountain at the hang glider launching ramp, but instead launch off the back side of the mountain on the wild and wonderful Yaeger Trail.
Here the route joins the Great Western Trail, passing a nice spring and following a railroad grade around the backside of Mingus before dive-bombing into the Verde Valley. The Verde is a solid water source and also the low point of the biggest climb.
It’s (nearly) all uphill to Bill Williams Mountain, at 9000 feet. The last 2000′ feet of the climb are on singletrack that is well graded, full of switchbacks and surprisingly rideable. What goes up must come down, and the down on the Williams Trail is an absolute hoot.
Forest roads link the route from the tourist town of Williams to the technical Sycamore Rim Trail. Views into Sycamore Canyon are great, if you can keep your eyes off the demanding trail.
Finally, the route passes by Wing Mountain, sampling some ‘brapp brapp’ moto trail fun, then wraps things up on some classic Flagstaff singletrack, dumping you back in downtown Flagstaff.
~235 miles and 28,000′ of climbing
The route in five minutes
Credit to Mike Curiak for the photos/video, from his fall 2010 tour.
Every effort was made to maximize rideable singletrack on this route. There is still a fair amount of dirt road riding, but over half the time is spent on singletrack, and hike-a-bike is pretty minimal, especially compared to other classic bikepacking routes.
Mingus Bypass Alternate
The Coconino Loop is one of the most rideable singletrack bikepacking routes out there. That said, the push up Mingus Mountain can be a bear. New in 2010, there is a GPX for the “Mingus Bypass” that circles around the south side of the mountain, first on dirt roads, then on a very rideable trail that rejoins the main Coconino route just in time for the Yaeger descent.
See the GPS data directory to download the Mingus bypass GPX.
Racing the Coconino Loop
Arizona Endurance Series puts on a “concurrent individual time trial” style event on the route. 2009 is the inaugural race along the route, also introducing the first self supported stage race format. For more on the race see the AES website:
The Coconino Loop from bikepacking.net’s 3D route gallery
See TopoFusion.com for full GPS data on the route:
Chad Brown’s Record setting individual time trial in June 2010.
Dave Harris’ writeup on his late season Coconino Loop ITT
Scott Morris’ journal of the first exploratory bikepack on the route.
Chad Brown’s report on the same trip