A cyclist climbs Catalina Highway, a route that provides an escape from the desert heat.

Mountain bikers will be hit hardest by the US Forest Service’s announcement that the Coronado National Forest will be closed to the public starting Thursday at noon because of extreme fire danger.

Here is an excerpt from the release:

The temporary closure applies to all Ranger Districts of the Coronado National Forest, and includes Visitor Centers, campgrounds, picnic areas, trails, summer cabins, organization camps and all other public uses.  District Rangers may authorize use for specifically permitted activities through Special-Use Permits. Violation of the closure is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both.

Trails in the forest are closed to hikers and mountain bikers.

That closure is something that Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists president Zach MacDonald said is disappointing, but understandable. Last weekend he and members of SDMB worked on a trail along Mount Lemmon and he said the grasses in the area were bone dry.

He said the trails on Mount Lemmon are traditionally the summer respite for Tucson mountain bikers and will deal a blow to mountain bikers, but said it was better to have the trails be closed than have the forest catch fire.

MacDonald said the group would likely organize more night rides and early morning rides to beat the heat while the trails are closed.

Road riders won’t be hit quite as hard as their mountain biking comrades.

The only exception listed in the release is Catalina Highway, which will remain open for people to go to Summerhaven to visit the businesses, which means cyclists can still ride from the base to the summit. The restrictions require that people not stop along the way, however. Finding water along the highway will be even more difficult since all of the areas will be closed. Previously the first available water was at the visitor center, which was 19 miles into the ride, but this will no longer be an option.


Click the image for a larger version of the Cornado National Forest map.

Businesses on Summerhaven will remain open. Planet of the Crepes assured their customers that they would be open and selling their crepes.

“No matter what you’ve heard about the Coronado Forest being closed, you can still drive up to Summerhaven and have a crepe. Music on the Mountain will still happen on Sunday and you can still cool off if necessary,” they said on Facebook.

Paul Austin, the Rincon District Ranger, said the plan, which could change, is to keep the Saguaro East loop road open to traffic, but close the trails to hikers and mountain bikers.

Sabino Canyon will be closed, however.

According to the release, the forest will be reopened when the area has received significant rainfall.


4 thoughts on “What Coronado Forest closure means for cyclists”
  1. Can someone confirm that water will not be available to road cyclists at Palisades?   “Previously the first available water was at the visitor center, which was 19 miles into the ride, but this will no longer be an option.”

  2. I’m a real turtle on a bicycle. Always have been, always will be.

    Which is why, for the time being, I’m staying a fur piece away from our national forests. There’s no way on this earth that I could outrun a wildfire.

  3. I called to follow up with them about that issue. It sounds like they don’t actually know.

    The woman I spoke to said they hoped to have that piece of information by tomorrow.

    I can’t imagine they will be shutting the water off at Palisades, but they also aren’t saying they won’t fine a cyclist who is filling up their water bottles.

    The way the release is written says you can not stop between the base and Summerhaven.

  4. What does it mean for cyclists?  Pretty much nothing for low-income commuters. 

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