Hiking & Biking

The Sonoran Desert is beautiful from afar, but it’s even more spectacular up close. In the summer months, experience our desert landscape by hiking and biking in Tempe in the early morning. The temperatures are much cooler than mid-day and outdoor activities are perfect before breakfast or a day at the pool. Most Tempe and Phoenix hiking trails are easily accessible within minutes of any hotel. Here are some of our favorite spots for hiking and biking in Tempe. Don’t forget to grab your hiking shoes, sunscreen and an ice cold water bottle.

With its convenient location in the heart of Downtown Tempe, “A” Mountain hiking trails are always popular. On your journey upward, you’ll find desert plants and petroglyphs created by the Hohokam, prehistoric residents in this area. From the top, you can get a great view of Tempe Town Lake, downtown and the ASU Tempe Campus. The “A” stands for Arizona State University, of course. Learn more about “A” Mountain history at the City of Tempe website. There are a few trail heads for “A” Mountain hiking. Look for the marked paths located behind Tempe Mission Palms Hotel near Third Street and Mill Avenue; behind the Hayden Flour Mill at Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway; and on the north side of the Tempe Transportation Center on Veterans Way and College Avenue.

Just north of “A” Mountain and Tempe Town Lake, you’ll find Papago Park, a desert preserve that is home to hiking and biking trails and attractions such as Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix Zoo and AZ Heritage Center at Papago Park. Desert Botanical Garden is an excellent place to learn about the desert plants and animals that you may encounter on a local hike. Plan your trip around one of their special events, such as the summer Flashlight Tours, Thursday and Saturday evenings, May 27-September 2, 2017, or their Music in the Garden concert series, Friday nights from October 6 to 16, 2017.

Get away from it all at South Mountain Park and Preserve, one of the largest municipal parks in the U.S. with more than 16,000 acres. This South Mountain Park map shows you how to get to Pima Canyon, the closest trailhead to Tempe hotels, near 48th Street and Guadalupe Rd. You can choose a short, easy hike or choose a gradual climb that rewards your efforts with beautiful views of the city skyline. You can find a hiking map and trail descriptions for South Mountain on the City of Phoenix website. And, if you need more guidance or want to learn more about the desert, stop by the South Mountain Environmental Education Center for trail recommendations, interpretive exhibits and activities, and educational events.

We also love our bikes in Tempe. In 2015, our city became a Gold-Level Bicycle Friendly Community Award winner and we are home to 175 miles of bike paths and trails. Arizona State University was also named a Gold-Level Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists in 2014. You can rent a bike from The Bicycle Cellar, Tempe Boat Rentals at Tempe Town Lake or Boat Rentals of America at Kiwanis Lake to explore our city on two wheels. In May 2017, the city launched Grid Bike Share in Tempe. There are a network of Grid Bike stations in Tempe, Phoenix and Mesa where you can rent a bike for a short term. Visit their website for a map and more details.

You can also go on a guided hiking, rock climbing or mountain biking tour with a company like 360 Adventures. Their experts provide all of the equipment that you need. All you have to do is have fun.

Also, check our blog for more information about Phoenix area hiking trails including Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak.

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