Corona de Loma Trail, South Mountain, Phoenix AZ

One day, a friend and I were taking a breather at the Buena Vista parking lot after riding up National Trail.  We looked across the valley to the south and saw a trail that we hadn’t previously noticed snaking its way up the ridge. We thought it might be a good day to go exploring, and that’s how we accidentally found Corona de Loma; a steep, loose, exposed piece of trail that makes for an intense ride.

What I’ll call the pre-ride starts on the south side of the Buena Vista parking lot on South Mountain.  The trail is marked with a small sign that simply says “Corona.” It starts with a short climb, followed by a rocky descent into a wash at the bottom of the valley.  The descent has a few drops and tight switchbacks, and it’s a good indicator of what’s to come.  It’s mostly all rideable (not necessarily by me), but a couple of spots will make you think twice.  At the end of the descent, the trail dumps into a wash, which you’ll have to ride/walk for a short distance before picking up the trail again on the opposite side of the wash.  The trail then begins a steep, loose, slog up the side of the ridge.  I end up hiking most of this climb.  Eventually the trail reaches the top of the ridge and opens up into a wide dirt area with a view of Ahwatukee to the south.  This is the starting point for the main event.

Corona de Loma

View of Ahwatukee and Chandler from the start of the main event.

The first section of the main event, up to the first switchback, is very exposed.  Chunks of rock jut out over the trail in two places, making it unsafe to ride.  Whether you choose to walk or ride this section, eventually you’ll reach a bend to the left and the first switchback to the right will come into sight.  This is where the fun begins.

From this point on, Corona de Loma can be described in three words: steep, loose, switchbacks.  It’s steep enough that I end up stopping a couple of times on the way down just to let my fingers and forearms rest from clenching the brakes.  The loose rocks move under your wheels, requiring balance and body english to stay upright.  And then there are the switchbacks.  I read somewhere that there are 20-plus switchbacks on the way down.  I haven’t counted for myself, but it sounds about right.  Most are tight, some are exposed, several start with a drop into the switchback, and some are a glorious combination of all of this.  It’s a slow, painstaking ride; a technical test of balance and brake control.

Corona de Loma ends at a T.  Both left and right routes eventually hit Desert Classic.  The left route is the most fun, and is the way to go if you’re parked at the Pima Canyon lot.

elevation profile

Corona de Loma elevation profile. The trail ends at the red mark.

corona relief map

Corona de Loma in red. National in blue. Route back to Desert Classic in green.

Map from the park entrance to Buena Vista parking lot.

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