Routes » Coconino Loop

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Overview

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.

Route overview

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

Touring the Coconino. from lacemine29 on Vimeo.

Credit to Mike Curiak for the photos/video, from his fall 2010 tour.

Trail type

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:

http://rockyroad5050.wordpress.com/5-coconino-250-and-350/

GPS Data



The Coconino Loop from bikepacking.net’s 3D route gallery

See TopoFusion.com for full GPS data on the route:

http://topofusion.com/GPX/CLR/

Trip Reports

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

Comments (14)

Chad BrownSeptember 22nd, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Looking forward to riding it again!

dpouwelOctober 13th, 2009 at 11:41 am

cool!!!!

keith bashamOctober 16th, 2009 at 7:07 am

thanks for the detail dude.

ScottMAugust 8th, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Added info on the ‘Mingus Bypass’ route (skipping the hike-a-bike), also added a couple links to recent trip reports / ITT’s on the route.

Look for an article in the next issue of Tail Winds about this fine route…

RhinoAugust 9th, 2010 at 12:04 pm

wow. The Mingus Bypass sounds like a SS dream come true.

RobDecember 15th, 2011 at 9:25 am

Me and My Buddy are planning on doing this in may 2012.. Any tips or help is appreciated

Clint lepetichApril 4th, 2012 at 10:13 pm

When in may you looking to do this ride?

[…] Coconino Loop is a 250 mile bikepacking journey linking Flagstaff with Sedona, Cottonwood and Williams, via the […]

[…] you definitely need a GPS for this ride. All the relevant info can be downloaded from the bikepacking.net. I used my lovely new Garmin Etrex 20 (thank you Nancy!) and though I have yet to unearth all its […]

GrizzlyAdamMay 18th, 2012 at 10:23 am

Is this route too hot for summer months?

[…] going to use some trail data that was part of a recent Ask the GPSGeek e-mail inquiry, the Coconino Loop. The .gpx files I used can be found by going to that page, or by going directly to their repository […]

Bridget @ GreenGlobalTravelApril 4th, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Sounds like a great route! great article- thanks for sharing!

BrandonDecember 12th, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Is there any difficulty with snow in early may?

ScottMDecember 13th, 2014 at 10:46 am

Most years the majority of the route should be fine in early May. Worst case you may need to skip Bill Williams Mountain (easy to bypass, just stay on the road into Williams).

The route is doable in the summer, too. You just need to be careful from Sedona to Mingus. The first time we rode this loop was in mid-June.

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