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TORCA’s 2024 Outlook

12 Feb 2024 7:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

2024 is going to be a big year for the Tucson mountain biking community. It’s implementation time for The Santa Catalina Trail Plan. There’s lots to be excited about, and a lot of work to do. TORCA is pursuing every opportunity possible to bring these new mountain biking opportunities to fruition. There’s never been a better time to contribute, so become a member or donate today.

The trail plan is going to be implemented in two phases. A phased approach has been adopted to maintain forward momentum while various regulatory processes are completed. Phase I encompasses the projects that are considered low hanging fruit: 50-Year and La Milagrosa. These trails already exist in areas with fewer authorizations needed to begin work. Phase II includes new trails: Fireline, Bug Jr., and Tucson Vista trails as well as reroutes and new connector trails at higher elevations on Mt. Lemmon. All of these trails require extra assessments and approvals before building can begin because they exist in the endangered Mexican spotted owl (MSO) habitat. While it may be a while until building can begin, we’ve been working with the forest service to finalize trail alignments and ensure that once things get rolling, work is completed quickly and to standard.

The full Santa Catalina trails plan can be found here:

Trail Plan Phase I

Adoption of the 50-Year Trail System

The USFS is adopting these previously unsanctioned trails. After official adoption, TORCA will be able to legitimately perform maintenance on these trails. Since all land west of the fenceline (the one crossed at Upper 50 or Middlegate) is State Trust Land, the 50-Year Trail System will get an additional trail from the Middlegate boundary at the Chutes down to Baby Jesus (will be renamed to Stone Cactus as part of Phase I) on the eastern side of the gate. This new trail will ensure a viable loop will always exist on USFS land should the State Trust Land be sold off for development. The USFS is looking into potential land acquisitions to ensure permanent access to the trail system. Various reroutes of existing trails will aim to improve trail usability, maintainability, and sustainability for all trail users. The character of the 50-Year Trail System will be preserved through any updates, including having slickrock B-lines, with bypasses appropriate for equestrians and hikers.

The National Forest Foundation has secured funds to jumpstart work at 50-Year. The Forest Service has dedicated its trail crew to assist in construction. We anticipate work to start on this area in the spring of 2024.

Adoption of La Milagrosa Trail

Also included in Phase I of the trail’s plan is adoption of La Milagrosa trail. TORCA and the USFS have no plans to alter the trail, but official adoption of the unsanctioned trail means that TORCA can perform trail work legitimately if the need arises.

Trail Plan Phase II

The trails in Phase II of the trails plan are still in the planning phase. This means that TORCA is working alongside the USFS and other user groups to finalize trail alignments before the official review and approval process begins. TORCA is advocating for as many bike friendly miles as possible. We hope this phase will include the first bike specific trails in the Santa Catalinas. 

Fireline Trail

This new 1.4 mile downhill directional mountain bike trail will include naturally constructed (soil and rocks) features (table tops and drops). The trail is co-located with an existing fire line used for wildfire management purposes on the ridge adjacent to Secret. TORCA has scouted this trail with the USFS and professional mountain bike trail builders to ensure top quality and feasibility. TORCA scouting fireline trail with the US Forest Service.

In addition to this new trail, a new Bigelow connector trail, as well as adoption of 1918 and Secret will make for a better connected high elevation ride.

Bug Jr. Trail

Lower on the mountain, Bug Jr. aims to provide a downhill directional mountain bike trail. This directional, mountain bike specific trail will provide a fast and fun alternative to the existing Bug Springs trail, where downhill riders won’t encounter uphill traffic, reducing user conflict on one of the mountain’s most popular sections of trail.

Early attempts to scout an alignment for Bug Jr. haven’t yielded any feasible lines so its exact location may change.

Tucson Vista Trail

This trail aims to provide an upper-mountain beginner level trail that’s open to hiking, biking, and equestrian use. The trail will connect Rose Canyon, Palisades, Showers Point, Spencer Canyon, Whitetail, and Sunset Trailhead providing excellent opportunities for loops with less time spent on pavement.

Joining Forces With the ATA on Red Ridge Trail

The Arizona National Scenic Trail is being rerouted off of Oracle Ridge and onto Red Ridge Trail from the top of the mountain down to Catalina Camp. Collaboration between the ATA and TORCA will mean that this rugged backcountry trail remains in better condition than it has in the past. 

Rerouting Lower CDO Trail

The Canada Del Oro (CDO) Trail was largely destroyed by the Bighorn Fire and the following record breaking monsoon season, making traversing the lower part of the trail from the intersection with Red Ridge Trail to Charouleau Gap Road a slog through a deep sandy wash. The trails plan includes a reroute to this section of trail, moving out of the CDO drainage and uphill to the east.

Helping Out

While we’re still waiting on approval for many projects, TORCA is on the lookout for, and pursuing, funding opportunities to expedite completion of the mountain bike related projects in the trails plan. While we’re an all-volunteer organization that relies heavily on our volunteer trail workers, sometimes we need the help of professional trail crews. Many of the funding opportunities available to trail work non-profit organizations include a stipulation of an in-kind contribution from the awardee. That means TORCA has to fork over a percentage of the awarded funds, or provide a cost-equivalent amount of volunteer labor.

That’s where you come in. You can help to make the execution of the trails plan the best it can be by contributing in the following ways:

Become a Member

If you aren’t already a TORCA member, sign up at


Many of our funding opportunities require that TORCA foots the bill for any work performed, and is later reimbursed. Having cash on hand allows us to focus more effort on trails projects and less on fundraising, keeping forward momentum.

Come To Trail Days

In addition to actually doing some of the digging yourself, every hour volunteered counts as part of TORCA’s in-kind contribution. This means that fewer funds leave the TORCA bank account and can be used elsewhere.

Get Involved

TORCA is always looking for dedicated folks to help out in the organization. Come to a board meeting to get the inside scoop and see how the donuts are made.

Have any questions? Send an email to our board of directors at

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