As you read each ride description, you will notice that each ride has “scores.” These scores are to help you determine if you have sufficient riding skills and experience to safely completely the ride. This scoring system is fully explained in THIS POST.
1. Foothills Madness : Slower ride, about 23 miles through some neighborhoods on the northwest side. Roller Coaster Road is featured in this ride. Most of this route is in residential areas and it is 50cc friendly. Ride Score: RD=1, RQ=2, THG=2, Total=5
2. Foothills Madness II: About 45 miles. This foothills ride is appropriate for bikes 50cc or higher. You do need to watch for sand or other debris in the roadway as there are multiple river and wash crossings. Excellent views of the Catalina mountains are featured on this ride. There are also stops at Sabino Canyon (There is a cost just to get in the parking lot.) and Agua Caliente Park (totally FREE!) This route starts and ends at Scoot Over / Crave. Ride Score: RD=1, RQ=2, THG=2, Total=5
3. Foothills Mega-Madness: This is 47 miles and about 2 hours of twisting, turning madness. Starting at Swan & Sunrise, this route meanders across the northern foothills, around the west end of the Catalinas, through Shadow Mountain Estates, then across Oracle, past some horse properties. The route then heads South then over to Roller Coaster Road, loops back around to Genematas. The route then meanders back to the east. Calle Barril and Territory Drive are not to be missed. They put Roller Coaster to shame. Beware of sand in the roadways, especially around monsoons. This ride is 50cc appropriate. Ride Score: RD=1, RQ=2, THG=2, Total=5
4. El Scoot de Tucson (as ridden in El Scoots I & II): 111 mile ride around the perimeter of Tucson. This map is as close to the route of the bicycle route as you can get without actually riding in El Tour de Tucson. Ride Score: RD=2, RQ=2, THG=2, Total=6
5. El Scoot de Tucson IV (2013) – This route is just under 100 miles and starts on the extreme NW side of town. Highlights include Scooter Killer Curve, Kinney Rd, McCain Loop, San Xavier Mission and Old Spanish Trail. Ride Score: RD=2, RQ=2, THG=3, Total=7
6. Agua Caliente to Vail Loop – Starting at Crave Coffee Bar, this 60 miles loop goes to a bit of the foothills, stops at the beautiful Agua Caliente Park, then out to Vail via Old Spanish Trail. The roads are a little rough in places but not many potholes. The view of Tucson from the top of Pistol Hill Road really makes this ride great. This map has you returning to Crave by way of Kolb Road which is exceedingly rough. I recommend avoiding it if you aren’t comfortable on high speed (55mph in this short section) rough roads. Deduct on point if you avoid Kolb or Valencia. Ride Score: RD=1, RQ=4, THG=2, Total=7.
Rides Near Town But Less Than 100 Miles
1. Green Valley Loop via Mission Road – 65 miles. The Mission Rd segment is curvy and a bit hilly once you are south of San Xavier. As shown, this route takes you right by the Titan Missile Museum. Ride Score: RD=1, RQ=3, THG=2, Total=6. RQ is 3 because speeds on Mission are 45-55 mph and it is quite rough is spots. there are many cyclists on mission on the weekends and they pose additional hazards.
2. Madera Canyon – 90+ miles. If you want to save 10 miles and 20 minutes or so, take I-19 on the way down. The road is nicely paved all the way to the top of the canyon. Madera is a great hiking area as well as for bird watching. Ride Score: RD=2, RQ=3, THG=2, Total=7
3. Marana/Avra Valley Loop: Approximately 75 miles starting from Oracle and Ina then ending at Scoot Over. To reduce mileage, one could finish anywhere in Marana or anywhere along Silverbell Rd. This takes you to Roller Coaster Road first, then west on Ina to some nice twisties up Picture Rocks Rd. (If you do this the other way around, be wary of Scooter Killer Curve. I recommend scooters 125cc or bigger as there are quite a few miles of 50-55 mph roads. Ride Score: RD=1, RQ=3, THG=2, Total=6
4. Park Link Loop –75 miles. I have you start and finish at Oracle and Ina. This loop has gentle, rolling hills and easy curves. From Red Rock back to Tucson I recommend the I-10 access road if you’re on a bicycle or scooter or if you just don’t want to zoom along at 75mph and miss the scenery. There is fuel and food available in Catalina and in Marana. Ride Score: RD=1, RQ=3, THG=1, Total=5. While the roadways on this route are almost idea for the novice, traffic speed on Route 79 and Oracle Road cause the RQ score to be increased to 3. RQ is a 2 if you ride to Rt79 then turn around and return the same way.
5. Agua Verde Castle Loop – About 75 miles. This goes to Vail using Old Spanish Trail. Spanish Trail is a beautiful ride with easy to moderate twists, curses and hills, thus the range on level of difficulty. There is food and fuel in Vail and it is a jump off point to several other great scooter destinations and routes. from Vail it’s out east on Marsh Station Rd which gives excellent views of the castle. Unfortunately, the return takes you along Kolb for a very rough couple of miles. You might to just turn around and go back along Old Spanish Trail and see everything from the other direction. Ride Score: RD=1, RQ=3, THG=3, Total=7
Longer Rides That Can Be Done in a Day
1. Arivaca Loop – 135 miles through the Altar Valley. Take the detour to Sasabe. Don’t forget to stop for a snack at the Gadsden Coffee Shop in Arivaca. Returns to Tucson via Old Nogales Highway. Ride Score: RD=2, RQ=2, THG=4, Total=8. The only twisties on this route are on the 35 miles of Sasabe-Arivaca Road, but they are pretty good. Livestock and sand are commonly found on this road.
2. Gila Bend Loop – 330 miles. This is an all-day drive which showcases the variety of desert we have here. There is also a lot of farmland on this route between Gila Bend and Florence. Includes the bombing range and Casa Grande. Note – Road quality between Maricopa and Gila Bend is fair at best. Ride Score: RD=5, RQ=3, THG=1, Total=9.
3. Indian Route 15 Loop: 200 miles. In the mood for a longer ride? Done clockwise, this route takes you out of Tucson to Sells then turns north on India Route 15. IR 15 is in great condition. There is no fuel or services between Sells and Eloy, however. Once to Eloy, you have the option of returning to Tucson on the Interstate or taking the frontage road. Bring water and stop and rest along the way. Ride Score: RD=3, RQ=3, THG=1, Total=7. The most dangerous stretch of this road is on Ajo from Tucson to IR-15. The road is being re-paved, but speeds tend to be excessive.
4. Tres Alamos-San Manuel Dirt Loop – 159 miles with about 50 miles of dirt/gravel. This may be rough on the average street bike or family sedan. Because of how remote it is, make sure someone knows what route you are taking and bring along some water. This route could be treacherous during monsoons. Ride Score: RD=3, RQ=5, THG=1, Total=9 This score is adjusted to 13 due to the long stretch of unpaved roadway.
5. Winkleman-Superior-Florence Loop – 200 miles. This loop cruises through some beautiful country along the San Pedro River valley. It includes the 177 spur from Winkleman to Superior. If you continue on to Globe on 77 you get to go through Top-of-the-World and it is only 26 more miles. Ride Score: RD=3, RQ=3, THG=4, Total=10.
5.a. A variation of this ride is the Winkleman-Globe-Superior-Winkleman Loop – 230 miles. Difficulty – Moderate to advanced. There are lots curving mountain grades on this ride. The section from Globe to Superior is on US-60 and is high speed with some steep grades, big trucks and a scary tunnel. Ride Score: RD=4, RQ=4, THG=5, Total=13
6. Tucson to Prescott:: Are you looking for a scooter friendly route to get to some cooler temperatures? We have used this route before to take a group to Prescott, Jerome, Payson and home again. This map can be used to show routes to Goodyear, Glendale, Surprise and Wickenburg, to name a few. Make no mistake, this is a long ride, but once you are north of Wickenburg, all the straight, flat, hot riding becomes worth it. When you reach Highway 89, you gain a lot of elevation. temps drop, there are beautiful views and the curves begin. From Wilhoit into Prescott are some of the best twisties in the state. Ride Score: RD=4, RQ=2, THG=4, Total=10.
7. Patagonia/Sonoita Loop – This is a really nice 150 – 160 mile loop taking you along Mission Rd (mentioned in another map) past green Valley then to Rio Rico. The easiest thing to do is to stay on I-19 past green Valley, but for an extra treat, hop a half mile east and ride down Pendleton Dr. Road quality isn’t as good, but the speed limit is slower and it is surprisingly pretty. For even more adventure, take some of the side road up into the empty neighborhoods of Rio Rico. From there you Hwy 82, aka Patagonia Highway. It is mostly gentle, sweeping curves all the way to Patagonia. Beware, the Patagonia Police strictly enforce speed limits. There are some nice little shops in Patagonia. Sonoita comes next then it is on to Route 83 back to Vail and to Tucson. Road quality of Rte 83 is very good. It is a bit mountainous at times, but there is good signage. Ride Score: RD=3, RQ=3, THG=3 Total=9.
A Variety of Routes Between Tucson & Phoenix
Tucson to Phoenix #1:: Questions frequently come up regarding scooter friendly ways to get from Tucson to Phoenix. This route arrives at the southeast part of Gilbert via Hunt Highway. It is a pleasant ride. Speed limits on Hunt Hwy are generally 45 mph, so you shouldn’t feel rushed, even on a 125. No serious highway riding at all. Ride Score: RD=2, RQ=3, THG=2, Total=7.
Tucson to Phoenix #2:: Would arriving in Chandler be better for you? Try this route. It follows the access road from Marana to Picacho, then to Coolidge (Right by the Casa Grande Ruins), then along 87 to Arizona Ave in Chandler.. There is a bit of emptiness as you leave Coolidge, but the road is in good shape. Ride Score: RD=2, RQ=2, THG=1, Total=5.
Tucson to Phoenix #3:: This is another alternate route to Phoenix which starts you a little further west in Chandler. Ride Score: RD=2, RQ=2, THG=1, Total=5.
Tucson to Apache Junction:: We used this route to go to Canyon Lake and Tortilla Flat. Rather than getting on I-10, stay on the access road all the way to Picacho. This route is even good for very small bike because there is so little traffic. The only area where the speed limit is more than 55mph is the 16 miles of Route 87 between Picacho and Coolidge. It’s 65mph, but this isn’t a problem because there is very little traffic and the road is flat and straight so it’s easy for car to get around. Once to Hunt Highway, the speed limits are all 45mph all the way to Apache Junction. Ride Score: RD=2, RQ=2, THG=1, Total=5. If you want to go all the way to Tortilla Flat, the map would look like THIS. It’s Ride Score is: RD=2, RQ=4, THG=4, Total=10. As you can see by the Ride Score, the last section is more challenging. Road quality is fair and it is quite twisty and hilly. Additionally, there can be a LOT of traffic if you ride this on a summer weekend.