Simply a great run in the Oro Valley area! Perfect for beginning runners and seasoned veterans alike. This run is overall quite smooth and offers fairly minimal elevation gain, with the first half being gradually uphill before descending on the second half. The trail conditions are largely packed dirt with some rutted areas from rain washout. There are a few rocky sections that get a bit more technical but those are few and far between. You'll cross a number of washes but seldom will these have any water. It takes just over a mile from the parking lot to reach the singletrack where the fun really begins. GPS usually puts this Honeybee Canyon Loop at about 15.75 miles.
This is a very fun loop trail that offers a shorter 6.25 loop option too if you cut over to the left (west) at the 2.75-mile junction where you'll link up with the last part of the run. There are also multiple extensions (Badlands & Tortolita Pass
Trail), with the Tortolita Pass
Trail linking up to the Dove Mountain trail system that is usually accessed at the Wild Burro Trail
. This run is remote at the northern end of the loop so be very careful to bring sufficient water in the hotter summer months.
Features: Views — Wildlife
*UPDATE* - Access up the Powerline Road
has been restricted by the HOA as of October 1, 2016 so there is no longer an option to start along Rancho Vistoso Boulevard. New trailhead access is in the works with the Town of Oro Valley. There is access still from Edwin Road off of Oracle but the washes are very sandy and the dirt road very rough. 4x4 vehicles highly recommended.
The second half of the trail does have some more technical sections, but overall this is a pretty smooth trail. Watch out for mountain bikers as it's one of the more popular local spots. You'll also encounter hunters on weekend mornings typically during season.
Most of the directions that follow are more specific than they need to be, as the vast majority of the trail is pretty straightforward and intuitive. There are only a couple of major junctions to get lost at.
From the Honeybee Canyon parking lot head east to Quiet Rain Drive (approximately 0.5 miles). Turn left (north) on Quiet Rain and take another immediate right through the swing gate and follow the gravel Powerline Road
up. Just past the 1.2 mile mark, you'll enter the State Trust Land and about a hundred yards further the singletrack begins on the right. The path meanders through all species of gorgeous cactus for about 1 mile before reaching the Powerline Road
again (about 2.25 miles from the start). Cross the road and continue on the singletrack heading up the gradual ascent. At 3 miles from the start, you'll reach a "Y" in the trail. Head left (west) if you want to complete the short loop, otherwise stay right and continue on the full loop route.
The next section you crest a few small hills that offer a great Catalina view if you take a moment to turn around and enjoy the scenery. At just over the 4.6-mile mark you'll come to a dirt road (Edwin Road - which can be accessed off of Oracle but is VERY bumpy) and head across the road veering slightly to the right. You'll immediately pick up the singletrack again for a pretty fast section of flat before heading back uphill.
From about mile 5.7 through 8, you'll encounter some of the most steady climbing of the day and probably the hardest section of trail. This is another pretty section of the trail though where you can take in the scenery at various points. The ground does get a little rockier through this section but still isn't terribly technical. Just before the 7.75-mile mark, the path will merge with a dirt road. Follow this dirt road up the hill for approximately 0.4 miles, crossing two cattle guards, before turning a hard left back down a singletrack path (approximately 8.05 total distance mark). This is a fairly easy path to see, but it does cut back at a very sharp angle. **Note: The Badlands extension is about 0.2 miles before this turn off on the right-hand side of the road).**
From here you'll gradually descend back towards a windmill and cattle tank, with a few rolling hills thrown in. Be sure to look to your right and see the remnants of an old concrete dam. Upon reaching the cattle tank veer to your right down through a wash and up the hill on the other side. This next 0.6 miles is a bit rocky and involves some of the steeper hill climbs of the day, however, they're still fairly minor. Once you crest the hill, it's pretty much all downhill thereafter. Just after mile 9, you'll be following along a fence line with some rolling terrain before opening onto another dirt road. *Note: Those linking with the Tortolita Pass
Trail will alter their course at this point and stay on the dirt road rather than crossing the cattle guard**
After hitting this dirt road at the 9.2-mile mark, take a left and cross the cattle guard, then take an almost immediate right back down more singletrack. This will lead you past the remnants of an old corral with another scenic windmill. Just past the corral, you'll start heading to the right down a dirt road before veering to the left down another singletrack path. Keep your eyes on the loose dirt here and you'll see the mountain bike tracks leading you the right direction. Enjoy the next few fast miles of gradual downhill!
From here on out, the trail crosses a few more dirt roads but the singletrack path is pretty visibly seen directly across the roads so just keep going straight. The next major junction is at about 12.85 miles where you'll again just stay straight. This junction is where you would spill out if doing the short loop. Right at about mile 14.2, there's one last moderate hill climb for good measure. Once past this follow the trail to the Powerline Road
, turn right and back the way you came!
It's the desert so you may encounter rattlesnakes, bobcats, coyotes, javelina, etc. Mountain lions do inhabit the area but are rarely sighted. Cows graze this land too but are pretty docile and are used to human traffic. Plenty of cactus so watch your step! You'll see a great variety of desert plants.