Outdoor and Active

It’s a great day for a Tempe bike ride

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 2015, 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.

I just learned how to ride a bike. Actually, I learned when I was a kid and then forgot again after years of not riding. When I tried biking again last year, 20 years after my last ride, it’s needless to say that I was a little rusty. But, once I got the hang of it, I fell in love with biking once again. There’s something about pedaling that makes you feel like a kid. You can’t help but smile and relive that time when you felt your first taste of freedom on two wheels.

For a 40 square mile city, it’s amazing that there are 175 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 and a few other retailers in town.

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. Once you get past the golf course, you may spot the occasional horseback rider, and hear the crows of roosters in chickens that reside in neighbors’ backyards.

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.

For more things to do in Tempe, visit the Tempe Tourism website or call us at 480-894-8158.

Toni Smith
Written Toni Smith

An Arizona native, Toni Smith loves to dine out, conquer hiking trails, go to concerts and survive hot yoga classes. She has also never met a dog she didn’t love instantly. She lives in Tempe with her husband and daughter.


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