June 20, 2022

CO: Penitente Canyon

 The stormy weather was holding off for a bit, so Justin and I stuck with our original plan to ride the trails at Penitente Canyon before making our separate ways home. I poked around on Trailforks and found a race route that looked promising. It was from the 12 Hours of Penitence event. It had to be good if they were racing on it, right?

We made the short drive to the trailhead from Del Norte to start the 16 mile clockwise loop. I had ridden the area once before, but had mostly winged it and I know I didn't pick the right trails based on other pics I had seen of the area. I was hoping this route would show the way.

High desert singletrack right from the start.

The first few miles were fast & flowy.

As we wound around the rocks began to make a presence.

Rock crawling type of riding, so rad!! It had a very Gooseberry Mesa feel to it.

Plenty of slickrock slabs too.

There were a couple of fast dirt road connectors added in, great for a race environment.

Back on singletrack before the main climb of the route.

The next few miles were a hoot, lots to play on while climbing.

We both marveled at the trail routing through & over the boulders.

The reward for climbing through the boulders? Descending back through them!!

Great views in the distance. PeakFinder app.

Did we mention the little bit of dirt that was there, was hero dirt? Indeed.

Boulders & slabs.

Nearing the end of the loop.

No, I didn't try to line up the sign with the horizon, I noticed it after I saw the pic. Ha!
So glad we opted to do this ride. Such a great way to end our abbreviated trip to the high country. Upon returning to the car there was a group of three riders who had also wrapped up their ride. We were chatting with them about the Tour Divide and the racers about to come through the area. When we mentioned we had attempted the ride in 2019 they laughed and said we were some of those nutty riders. Haha. One lady commented on my AZ license plate noting that she and her husband had lived in Tempe for a few years. Then she asked me if I had heard about the AZTR controversy over the FKT attempt. Uh, yeah. Justin laughed and continued packing his stuff while the lady was giving me some thoughts about it. After a short bit I let her know I was the RD of the event and their reaction was priceless. They began apologizing, but it was just funny. Small world, eh? 

If you are in the area and have some time, definitely check this area out. It's just technical enough and there are a ton of B-lines to choose from on the bigger rocks.



  1. Haha that's classic that you would run into someone in the wild who wanted to talk controversy on the AZTR only to get to explain to them that you are that evil RD!