Finding the Fun of Riding in Circles: Connecting Singletrack in Guaymas, Sonora

Up until the beginning of this year, I had barely stepped foot on a proper mountain biking trail. Not because my hometown lacks options to do so, it’s just that my approach to riding bikes as a commuter and tourer is to get places, and trail riding seemed much like riding in circles. This summer, as my long term traveling plans got postponed, a mountain biking trail 15 minutes away from home suddenly seemed interesting and I started to get the hang of riding single track as a temporary substitute for long, open dirt roads; after all, this 5 km trail did a lot for keeping me sane over the summer.

Thanks to my new interest in singletrack I found out that the mountain biking trails in the city of Guaymas are amongst the most popular in my home state Sonora; it had been a while since I’ve wanted to explore that area by bike and with a weather window coming up in this summer that refuses to go to sleep, it was perfect time to pay a visit. Some of you might have heard about or even been in this place, as the nearby town of San Carlos is a pretty popular destination among tourists and snowbirds. This time Karla and I are joined by our friend Javo, who’s been opening the scene of bike deliveries in our hometown Hermosillo and is also not new to this kind of adventures: on my first long bike trip back in 2015 he said he wanted to make sure I made it safely out of Sonora, so he strapped a backpack to the rack of his bike and we rode together for five days before he took a bus back home.

Guaymas is located on the coast of the Gulf of California, a territory formerly inhabited by the Guaimas people whose lineage disappeared in the 1800’s when they mixed with neighboring native groups, but there’s also a story about the last few of them walking inland, never to be seen again. A 90 minute bus ride from Hermosillo puts us in downtown Guaymas where we assemble our bikes and get moving towards our first destination, El Arco, a natural rock formation with the shape of an arch. We follow a paved road till we suddenly have to stop because of a gate guarded by the military. Ok, maybe this is not the way, but you see, they don’t call me “Perdido en bici” for no reason. We backtrack for a bit and make the right turn, get to El Arco, admire the rock and the open sea, and then continue to our next goal.

In the middle of a residential area we find our first single track destination, Pista Aguamalas, dropping to sea level through a zigzagging single track and a few ramps we didn’t do then back up again on a two-track road, all while having a beautiful coastal landscape as background that makes it hard to keep your eyes on the trail in front of you. The next day we ride towards San Carlos and reach our second single track on the list, Pista El Soldado, a 9 km circuit of short and steep ups and downs among a variety of cacti located right next to a protected estuary. From here we get our first sight of the most iconic hill of this area, Cerro Tetakawi, with its very distinctive double peak which would accompany us from the distance for two days kinda like the Eye of Sauron, so I guess that makes us the hobbits. The name Tetakawi comes from a Yaqui native term meaning “Rock mountain”, but it’s popularly known as “the goat’s tits” because of its shape. There’s a hiking trail to the top from where you get a beautiful vista of the sea to one side and the mountains to the other, and the rocks are a playground for climbers, highliners, and that sort of activities.

Some kilometers later we reach a dirt road and the fishing village of La Manga, which marks the end of the resorts and fancy hotels as the people here have refused to sell their land to the big tourism development companies, keeping their access to the sea and making a living off fishing-related activities; the women also make decorations with shells which they sell to the visitors of the local seafood restaurant. We continue northwest into the Biosphere Reserve Cajón del Diablo intending to go as far north as possible but as it sometimes happens, a locked gate stops us before too long. Without a sign explaining what kind of land lies behind, we U-turn and make camp on a sandy beach with a little island in front of us. In our attempt to go as light as possible we left our sleeping bags at home and brought only a bed sheet, which we regret when the temperature drops enough to keep us awake for an hour before the sun rises.

After breakfast we slowly make our way back to Guaymas, stopping in San Carlos for lunch and going for a second run at the Pista Aguamalas because it was really fun. We arrive at the bus station and disassemble our bikes, celebrating this short but satisfying adventure with a junk food buffet while the bus arrives. You know, riding in circles might not be dull after all, guess I just gotta find a way to connect several of them to make it more my style.