By Blake Herzog
A series of downhill-optimized trails for mountain biking planned in Prescott National Forest, the first of its kind in Arizona, has won final approvals from the U.S. Forest Service, with construction scheduled to start this fall.
The Bean Peaks Gravity Flow Trail System will include several one-way bike-optimized trails built with berms, jumps and other features users can roll and jump over for whatever suits their mood and ability. They provide a fun, flowy roller-coaster experience with relatively easy uphill returns.
The plan was developed over the past three years after the Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance and City of Prescott won a grant from the International Mountain Bicycling Association.
Sarah Clawson, District Ranger for the Bradshaw-Chino District of the U.S. Forest Service, said, “We’re excited to add this unique experience to our world-class trail system in the Greater Prescott area. As is the case for all our trails, this project would not be possible without our partners and the dedicated community of all trail users who continue to help us design, build and maintain them for the benefit of locals and visitors alike.”
After years of planning and public comment periods, the web of trails will start just south of the White Spar campground in the national forest on AZ-89. Four acres surrounding the existing trailhead will be restored to their natural state and two new trailheads built, one of them designated for mountain bikers.
The trails will squiggle southwest to the base of the Bean Peaks, following the contour of the terrain.
According to the Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance, the network of trails will foster skill development for newer riders while challenging experienced riders and accommodating adaptive bikes for users with special needs. Their location 3 miles south of downtown Prescott will make them accessible to residents and tourists alike, it added.
The paths will be built by professional trail contractors with the equipment necessary to construct these advanced trails with native materials by IMBA Trail Solutions, the international association’s trail development arm. The first phase, scheduled for this fall but contingent on funding, will include a trailhead and parking along with almost 6 miles of beginner and intermediate trail — more than half as gravity flow trail. They’re expected to open in spring 2024.
The nonprofit Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance is funding the trails’ construction through donations: “I am confident that our community will rally and help raise the funds so we can start construction of the Bean Peaks Gravity Flow Trail system this fall,” said Ximena Florez, the group’s board president.
Phases 2 and 3 are scheduled to be built in fall 2024 and fall 2025.
Donations can be made to beanpeaks.prescottmtb.com as well as through community events and campaigns posted on the website. Checks can be made out to PMBA and mailed to: PMBA/Bean Peaks, PO Box 3027, Prescott, AZ 86303.