Hiking & Biking

Tempe is in the heart of the metropolitan Phoenix area, which means that it’s also in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Getting an up close look at saguaro cactus and other desert plants is an easy stroll, bike ride or quick drive from any Tempe hotel. So, do what the locals do and take a hike or go mountain biking. In the summer months, the heat can be a factor so be sure to only explore the desert in the cool of the early morning or before sunset.

Here’s a summary of some of the most popular hiking and biking trails in Tempe and Phoenix. So grab your running shoes, fill up a water bottle and put on some sunscreen – here’s where the locals like to go.

Not every downtown has a mountain right in the middle of all the action, but Tempe certainly does. Downtown Tempe’s “A” Mountain is a popular hiking spot from early morning through sunset. The large gold “A” on the south side of the mountain stands for Arizona State University, of course. On your journey upward, you’ll find desert plants and petroglyphs created by the Hohokam, prehistoric residents in this area. Learn more about “A” Mountain history at the City of Tempe website. From the top, you can get a great view of Tempe Town Lake, downtown and the ASU Tempe Campus.There are a few trailheads 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, Pueblo Grande Museum and AZ Heritage Center at Papago Park. Some of the most popular Papago Park trails are Hole in the Rock, located off of Galvin Parkway by the Phoenix Zoo and the Double Butte Loop, accessible via the West Park parking lot, located across the street from the zoo. 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 their Music in the Garden concert series, Friday nights from February 2-June 22, 2018.

You’ll feel like you’ve gotten away from it all, even though you’re in the heart of the city 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 using the Social Bicycles app. 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.

Hiking & Biking Listings

A Mountain
“A” Mountain

With a quick jaunt to the top of “A” Mountain, also known as Hayden Butte, in Downtown Tempe, hikers are rewarded with views of the lake, ASU and rock drawings left hundreds of years ago by the Hohokam people.


Mill Ave. and Third St.
Tempe, AZ 85281
Phone: (480) 350-4311

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