NOTE: To help cope with the new stresses that we are all facing due to COVID-19 / Coronavirus, you may want to get outside and enjoy the warm Arizona sunshine that comes with spring. View our blog about outdoor options in Tempe during COVID-19. And check out the City of Tempe’s website for the latest updates on closures.
Tempe is known for many things: Mill Avenue, Arizona State University, ASU Gammage and more than a few really fun annual festivals and events. But did you know that Tempe is known for being a bike-friendly city too?
In 2019, the League of American Bicyclists designated Tempe a Gold-Level Bicycle-Friendly Community Award winner. Tempe was recognized for safe bike paths and for promoting biking to work and for fun. Biking in Tempe is part of our way of life and that’s a really great thing.
For a 40 square mile city, it’s amazing that there are 217 miles of Tempe bike paths, from desert trails to bike lanes on city streets. For details about these bike paths, videos about bike safety and more, visit the City of Tempe website: www.tempe.gov/bike.
If you don’t have a bike of your own, you can rent one from The Bicycle Cellar or borrow one from one of the Tempe hotels that have bikes for their guests: Canopy by Hilton Tempe Downtown, Moxy Phoenix Tempe and Graduate Tempe.
Now that I’ve rediscovered my love of cycling, I’ve found a few favorite Tempe biking trails:
Crosscut Canal Path and Tempe Town Lake
Just last year, the City of Tempe improved upon an existing bike path, the Crosscut Canal Path through Papago Park. My favorite way to get there is to ride north on Mill Avenue, over the bridge and then just past Curry Road. The entrance to this canal path is just north of Curry on the east side of the street. Once you turn in, you’ll find the first of several public artworks and then, you’ll really feel like you’re in another world. A disc golf course combines with the beauty of a tree-lined canal. Continuing up the hill, you’ll see the buttes of Papago Park, the Rolling Hills Golf Course and even a few aqueducts that connect to our canal system. For the return trip, I always ride to the other side of Mill Avenue, just behind the Marquee Theater to connect to the paths on the north shore of Tempe Town Lake. From here, I head west and go over the lake on the pedestrian bridge and then cruise to my heart’s content through Tempe Beach Park.
Kyrene Canal Path
A great way to bike around southern Tempe leaving all the traffic behind you is the Kyrene Canal Path. This path carves through quiet neighborhoods, and has some nice tree lined stretches. It starts just southeast of Kyrene and Warner Roads. It joins the Western Canal path right around the Ken McDonald Golf Course, just west of Rural and south of Guadalupe. The best part of the ride is found near this golf course, where you will see a wide variety of birds and frequently rabbits too. You will also witness golfers perfecting their game.
Western Canal Path
The Western Canal Path begins in Mesa and following the canal that runs in between Guadalupe and Elliot Roads. As it turns north at the Ken McDonald Golf Course, it makes for a great ride along the edge of Tempe’s Kiwanis Park. I usually will exit the canal and do a lap or two around the pond in the park, where you can see a wide range of water fowl as well as take in the sights of some anglers participating in some urban fishing along the bank. The paved path around the pond has a variety of hills which make for a fun climb for cyclists of all levels.
I also love exploring neighborhoods around Tempe, such as the Maple Ash Historic Neighborhood and the ASU Tempe Campus. I encourage you to get to know the city a little better too – by bike.
To get you started on your next biking adventure, I tested out two fun bike routes in Tempe:
Route 1: ASU Tempe Campus, Downtown Tempe and Tempe Town Lake
In this route, I explored Downtown Tempe, Tempe Town Lake and ASU’s Tempe Campus. I rented a bike from The Bicycle Cellar and then started my journey by riding south on Mill Avenue, then I went east on University Drive to the Original ChopShop for an Acai Bowl. I then headed to the ASU Tempe Campus. I continued south on Palm Walk, saw the impressive architecture at McCord Hall and then went north to Desert Financial Arena and Sun Devil Stadium.
From here, I rode north on Mill Avenue to Tempe Town Lake, riding past other bikers, joggers and everyone else enjoying their Saturday on and around the water.
I feel like I was able to see and do a lot in the short amount of time I rented the bike. Returning it was a breeze and in an hour, I was on my way.
Distance: 5.5 miles
Riding Time: 48 minutes
Route 2: Kiwanis Park and South Tempe
On this route, I used my own bike. I started out riding south on All America Way to Guadalupe Road and then turned right. Just a few feet away, there is a crosswalk at the canal path on the west side of the park. I went south on the Western Canal Path, past the Ken McDonald Golf Course. This path takes a turn east near the golf clubhouse. I followed it to Rural Road and then headed south.
If you wanted to stop for a latte or a bite to eat, you can’t go wrong at The Crepe Bar or Clockwork Pizza. Both are located next to each other on the northwest corner of Rural and Elliot Roads. There’s a very convenient bike rack in the parking lot.
From here, I continued west onto Elliot Road where I picked up the Kyrene canal path on the right, about a half mile from Rural. I headed north on this path and spotted the other half of Ken McDonald Golf Course. There are always golfers on the green, lots of runners and bikers. It’s well maintained with colorful landscaping and if you’re lucky, you might spot a cottontail bunny. There’s a net over the top of the path, just in case a golf ball goes astray.
I crossed Guadalupe Road again and continued into Kiwanis Park. According to my Garmin watch, I burned about 200 calories on this route. Not bad for a leisurely weekend morning ride and maybe enough to cover some of the crepe that I ate along the way!
Distance: 5.3 miles
Riding Time: 52.33 minutes