Sure, most cyclists have heard of Mt Lemmon in Tucson and plenty, including us, have ridden up the challenging mountain. But ask most cyclists and they probably haven’t heard of the lesser known Mt Graham located about 70 miles NE of Tucson. At 10,724′, it’s high. Our ride was 12.4 miles up, then we turned around and flew back down for a total of 24.8 miles with 4253′ of climbing. The road kept going past where we turned around but I was getting chilly since the temp varies so much from the bottom to the top.
The mountain’s actual name “Pinaleño Mountains” comes from an Indian word meaning “many deer”, or “deer mountain.”Seems fitting as we so A LOT of deer. Mt. Graham has an abundance of trees that date back to antiquity. Researchers from the University of Arizona (Tree Ring) Laboratory have discovered living trees that date back to 1257 and 1270 AD!
The ride itself was straightforward, we started at a picnic area at the 5000′ elevation sign and climbed up basically 4253′ and then turned around. The road is very narrow but being a weekday, we only saw a handful of cars. The road has a series of fun hairpin turns that make the climb pretty interesting and the downhill somewhat dangerous! It’s a steady climb and goes from desert plants and landscape, up through the forest with changing leaves and all.
I highly recommend this ride if you’re in the area and up for a challenge!