End of the road on the John Krein Trail

John Krein Trail

Tucson Mountains
Tucson, Arizona

Distance: 9.3 miles
Type: mixed trail loop
Time: 2-4 hours
Season: Fall-Spring
Elevation Range: 2600-3380 ft
Permit Required: No
Park Hours: 7 am to sunset

Quick Rating: sick fun

About the trail profile

Pima County NRPR Trail Map


The John Krein Trail climbs to a peak with a beautiful 360-degree view of the Tucson Mountains. The climb to the peak is technically difficult, physically challenging, and at times takes you along cliffs with shear drops. Combine this with the demands of the Golden Gate Trail and Yetman climb over Golden Gate Pass and you have the makings of a demanding but satisfying ride.


This long and challenging ride includes some of the best singletrack in the Tucson Mountains. As with most of our rides, it starts with an easy warmup across the desert east of Old Tucson, adds exertion in the climb up John Krein Trail, and closes with scenic singletrack along the Golden Gate Trail. Sure, I've left out a lot of details, but I have to leave some surprises, don't I?

How to get there

Take Speedway Boulevard west of town. It will change to West Anklam Road and climb up and over Gates Pass where it becomes Gates Pass Road. Continue west on Gates Pass Road and turn left (south) when it intersects Kinney Road. Watch for parking area K9 on the left, approximately 1.5 miles from the intersection.

John Krein Elevation Profile

Trail Log

Tucson Mountain Park has a lot of trails. I've done my best to note major trail crossings to keep you on track. It's hard to get lost but easy to end up where you didn't want to be.

0.0 Parking area K9. Ride north on Kinney Road.
0.3 Parking area K12. Pull in and take the trail on the north side of the parking area. It will widen into a jeep trail. The trail is a relaxing warmup to the climbs ahead. If it's a cold winter morning, you'll need all the warmup you can get.
1.2 The jeep trail will split. Stay left. The right trail will get you to the same place near parking area G6.
1.5 Trail crosses a jeep trail to parking area G6. Continue straight.
1.6 Trail ends at east-west jeep trail. Follow right.
1.8 If you're on track, you just crossed a wash and have started a short climb. Stop where the jeep trail makes a sharp right turn. To the right is the continuation of the Golden Gate Trail, which you'll take on the loop back. Straight ahead is the Golden Gate Trail coming down from Golden Gate Pass. On your left is a less obvious singletrack going north. Take it.
1.9 Turn right and ride up the wash. Don't mind the soft sand or sharp acacia. Remember, this is supposed to be fun.
2.2 The wash will narrow and the slopes will steepen. Watch for a rock cairn and faint trail climbing out of the wash on the left. Follow the singletrack to parking area G3.
2.4 Parking area G3. You won't have any problem finding the well traveled trail to the pass. It is a challenging climb over loose cobbles.
2.8 Golden Gate Pass. Golden Gate Trail on your right, Yetman Trail straight ahead, and an unnamed trail goes left. Go straight and down the hill.
3.4 Follow Yetman Trail left at split in the trail. Follow the Yetman Trail east and disregard tempting side trails.
4.2 Sign and John Krein Trail on right. Take it. It's all uphill from here.
4.9 End of the line, unless you want to take a shortcut down. Admire the view. Commune with nature. Backtrack.
5.6 'T' into Yetman Trail. Go left and back the way you came.
6.4 Go right and prepare for the long grind up to Golden Gate Pass.
7.0 Golden Gate Pass. Take the Golden Gate Trail left at the trail intersection.
7.1 Beware! The next mile is a challenging stretch of technical downhill with lots of big rocks and drops. It used to be more fun but someone's filled in some of the drops with stepping stones to make it easier. Next thing you know they'll be adding guardrails.
7.9 You're back at a multi-trail intersection you should recognize near G6. Follow the jeep trail left briefly until you see a singletrack branch right. This is the rest of the Golden Gate Trail that will take you back to parking area K9.
9.3 Loop complete at K9. Grab a drink, snack, and relax.


Watch out for hikers on the Yetman Trail and yield the trail, smile, and wave. In most cases they will encourage you to pass, possibly thinking that anyone crazy enough to try and ride this trail needs all the help they can get. Hikers are uncommon on the Golden Gate Trail and have never been seen on John Krein Trail.

Take plenty of water and tubes. This is a tough loop and demands much of body and bike. It'll take longer than you think and will get really miserable if you run out of water or have to walk out on flat tires. A snack can also take the edge of things while you're waiting for your buddy to change his tire.

Consider elbow, knee, and shin protection. The trails are rocky and overgrown with cactus and acacia in places. If you tend to be uncoordinated, body protection can protect you from much of the physical abuse. It won't prevent mental anguish.


Shorten trail time by starting from parking area G8, G6, G5 or G3. If you start from G3 there won't be any warmup before hitting the steep climb to Golden Gate Pass.



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Copyright 1997-2009 R Scott Cherba All Rights Reserved
Updated 10 November 2015