I rode the Chiva Falls "Italian Loop" yesterday. I'd been holding out for a while because I knew it was an OHV playground with miles and miles of doubletrack and scant singletrack. Finally, I cracked after rereading glowing reviews on MTBR. Alas, it was a boondoggle.
How to get there: From Tucson, head to the end of Tanque Verde Road where it turns into Redington Road, a rough dirt road. Go 4.7 miles until you see a corral on the left and FR4417 on the right. Park Here. (Google Earth)
Length: About 12 miles or 1.5 - 2 hours.
The Map: First off, I downloaded a bogus map from Scott Cherba's website when I should have gotten the newer OHV map from the Forest Service site. Luckily, the OHV map is posted throughout the road system, and getting lost isn't really an issue here -- as long as you have plenty of time.
The Ride: At about 3:30, I started at the parking lot where 4417 hits Redington Road and headed up Reddington Road 5 miles until I got to the turnoff for FR37. FR37 is a rocky, rolling descent until the flatter floodplain on the upper reaches of Tanque Verde wash. I turned right at FR4424 and in about a mile I took a left at FR4417. FR4417 is more of the same: some steep ups and downs until FR4426 comes in from the left. Here, you can take FR4426 to 4405 and check out Chiva Falls, but I was short of time and took FR4417 back to my car. I had to navigate around a convoy of middle-aged jeep enthusiasts and only ran out of steam on one steep uphill. There are some pretty sweet jumps along the way, but all in all it was a pretty dull ride. I was back at my car by 5:15.
Next Time: The ride was shorter than I thought it would be and now that I know the geography better, I'll probably take the Italian Springs Trail #95 to FR37. Then, that "foot trail" between FR37 and 4426 looks appealing. I'll take that to Chiva Falls and then head back via FR4417.