I’d always known that just North of my parents place in Fountain Hills was a ‘mountain park,’ but wasn’t entirely sure what that was or what I might do there besides go for a hike or something. Turns out there is a great multiuse loop as well as a crazy MTB competition area.

I rode the Pemberton Trail, a large loop that basically goes around the perimeter of the park. It is relatively flat compared to my expectations what with the word “mountain” in the name of the place. Either way you ride it, the first 1/3 or so is flat or climbing gradually, the second 1/3 is largely a rolling flat, and the last 1/3 is a gradual descent back to the trailhead.

It was a lot of fun! I was advised to ride it counter-clockwise, and that was probably a good idea – the southwest/bottom end is definitely more fun to descend than the north/top end. The north has some wide doubletrack and is a bit sandy, the south/west legs of the ride are fast single track with tons of waterbars to jump.

This was my first ride out with the new GPS, a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx I got at REI with mad Christmas gift cards – thanks Santa(s). That worked extremely well, I suspect I will be very happy with it. Additionally, it was the first time out using a rear rack and bag rather than a backpack. A sweaty back on a cold day really bothers me, so a rack it is.

Distance: 15.3 miles