Tortolita Preserve

Tortolita Preserve and Tortolita Preserve Loop

A Perfect Place for Hiking, Mountain Biking and Horse Back Rides

Tortolita Preserve MaranaThe Tortolita Preserve is a section of the Sonoran Desert in the Town of Marana. It encompasses 2,400 acres on the Tortolita Fan known as Dove Mountain.

It and Dove Mountain are in the western part of the Tortolita Mountains.

Marana leased the land from the Arizona State Land Department in 2009. It was the Town’s desire to preserve the Saguaros, Ironwood trees, and desert habitat of the area. The lease expires in 2099.

The Tortolita Preserve includes nine miles of flat and gentle West-sloping natural desert. This natural trail forms the Tortolita Loop. It is thick with native Sonoran Desert vegetation and abundant Saguaro cactus.

It is popular for walking, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The topography also makes it a great place for bird watching, and nature photography.

But off-highway vehicles are not allowed in Tortolita Preserve.

Dove Mountain residents and environmentalists raised concerns about the future of the area. Would it stay a “preserve” or would developers gain a foothold and build more homes.

The Town Steps Up

In July 2020, Marana took steps to ensure the Tortolita Preserve will remain intact.

The Marana Town Council made changes to the town’s 2040 plan.

The changes removed the “special planning area” categorization of the 2,400-acre preserve. What may appear a small change to some, is quite big. It ensures the Tortolita Preserve continues through 2099, the end of its 99-year lease.

It is worth noting the change isn’t in “perpetuity”. But it gives all parties a lot of time to “make a deal” that just may create a preserve in perpetuity.

Tortolita Loop

Tortolita Preserve Loop is a 9.9-mile single track loop of sand, some hard-pack, and rocks. It meanders through a beautiful ironwood forest, best appreciated duringTortotila Loop the May bloom.

It is a multi-use trail for hikers, bikers and horse rides. To maintain flow, bicyclists go counterclockwise and hikers and horseback riders clockwise. On average it takes 60 minutes to complete this trail.

The trail is well marked by metal signs. Signs identify types of trees and cactus, distance from the trailhead, and elevation.

This is the ride for beginners on a single speed bike!

Bigger and Better

The trailhead for the trail system is by the Golf Club At Dove Mountain, known as the Wild Burro trailhead.

Take Dove Mountain Blvd all the way from Tangerine up to the roundabout at the end. Turn right, go thru the security gate and tell them you are using the Wild Burro TH.

There is ample parking there, with all new facilities. If you do use this parking, the TH is back a little by the entrance to the golf club.

This is an advanced technical trail with steep climbs and challenging sections.

Intermediate riders in good fitness will be able to ride a lot of this system. This is not for the faint of heart, and avoided in the heat of summer without plenty of water.

This is a great workout and the more technical sections will keep you occupied. Oh, don’t forget, Armor/padding recommended.


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