Gold Canyon, Arizona, delivers yet another mountain biking spectacle with the Cougar-Lost Goldmine Loop. Offering a blend of technical challenges and fun dips, this 4-mile circuit promises an exhilarating ride through Arizona's rugged landscapes. It's perfect for those who have some experience under their belts and are looking for a trail that demands skill while delivering pure enjoyment.
To reach the starting point, drive east from Phoenix on Highway 60, bypassing Apache Junction en route to Gold Canyon. Turn north onto Kings Ranch Road and continue for about three miles until you hit Baseline. A right turn here, followed by a series of well-marked signs, will guide you to the trailhead parking at the end of Cloudview Drive.
Begin at the parking lot, steering your bike north towards the Hieroglyph hiking trail. Choose the right fork marked as the Lost Goldmine Trail. What unfolds is a two-mile stretch of a trail originally designed for hiking, bringing up a complex conundrum: When does an intermediate technical trail graduate to an advanced level?
After conquering the rocky terrain of the Lost Goldmine, turn onto the well-marked Cougar Trail. What follows is an exhilarating downhill journey with frequent ups and downs through arroyos—dry creeks or streambeds that can fill up quickly during rains. Near the trail's end, anticipate a sudden two-foot drop into an arroyo. A T-junction then guides you back north, completing the loop and leading you back to the Cloudview parking lot.
In a trail system that offers an abundance of quality tracks, the Cougar-Lost Goldmine Loop still manages to distinguish itself. Though not the favorite for everyone, its balanced mix of technical challenges and joyous downhill segments is commendable. This trail encapsulates the essence of what makes Gold Canyon a sought-after mountain biking destination. Prepare to be enthralled, but also be ready for the challenge.