Garden Canyon and Brown Canyon together make a full-value mountain biking loop that begins right in town. The trail in Sierra Vista's Garden Canyon Park is a nice warm-up en route to the dirt road road climb and fast singletrack downhill of Brown Canyon. Start from the parking lot on S Cherokee or any other place in town to access Garden Canyon, and follow the trails that funnel toward the Brown-Garden Perimeter Trail on the boundary of Fort Huachuca. This trail is enclosed by fencing on both sides and leads straight to Brown Canyon Ranch.
The ranch is a century-old property now preserved by the Forest Service as a nature and historic site. It is also a useful landmark indicating the different levels of difficulty in the two halves of the loop. Beyond here the steady climbing begins, and this is followed by somewhat technical downhill. Beginners may want to turn around here and return through Garden Canyon. Riders who want to skip Garden Canyon can park at the ranch to begin the loop.
Ride the dirt road leading away from the ranch toward Ramsey Canyon Road, then turn right on this paved road. Ride it for about half a mile before turning right again on Brown Canyon Road. This is a narrow dirt road without a street sign, but there are plenty of other placards. The poster of these would have you believe it is all private property, but the road is fair game, and gates around adjacent lots eliminate any possibility of accidental trespassing.
Continue up this road until you reach an obvious fork where a jeep trail heads uphill to the left and take it. So begins the real climb, which leads steadily up another 400 feet to earn your reward. The road is generally easy riding, but it is rocky or off camber in some places. Eventually you'll reach a trail intersection where left leads into the wilderness area and right leads downhill toward Brown Canyon Ranch. Go right, and hold on tight.
This is the good stuff with fast singletrack, technical bits, flowy curves, banked turns, rock drops, and more. It may be tempting to open up and fly through most of it, but each bend yields a new obstacle, which could be a person. This trail is popular with hikers coming up from the ranch. Keep alert and be prepared to yield. You'll reach the ranch sooner than you probably want to, thus ending the steep stuff and leaving a cruise back down Garden Canyon.
Even though this route gets steady traffic and passes through neighborhoods, it accesses some fairly rugged and hard-to-reach terrain in the foothills of the Huachucas. Come prepared with what you need to stay hydrated, fueled, and safe. Most of the way is exposed to sun, and no water is available.