Outdoor and Active

It’s a great day for a Tempe bike ride

In Tempe, two wheels are better than four!

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 recreation. 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 Sonoran 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: 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 recently, 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 begin feel like you’re in another world. From the tree-lined canal., you’ll notice several public art installations as well as a disc golf course. 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 Theatre 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 stretch for biking in south Tempe is the Kyrene Canal Path, which carves through quiet neighborhoods, and has some nice tree-lined stretches. It starts just southeast of Kyrene and Warner roads, and 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’ll see a wide variety of birds and rabbits often, too. Riders 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 will usually exit the canal and do a lap or two around the park’s pond, where you can see a wide range of water fowl and 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.

Bike ride on the Kyrene Canal Path

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

On 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, 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 who was out enjoying their Saturday on and around the water.

I was able to see and do a lot in the short amount of time I had the rental bike. Renting it was a breeze and, an hour later, so was returning it.

Arizona State University Tempe Campus Palm Walk

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 Kiwanis 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 P.Croissant. 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 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, plenty of runners and bikers (there’s a net over the top of the path, just in case a golf ball goes astray). The landscape is well maintained and colorful and, if you’re lucky, you might spot a cottontail bunny.

Kiwanis Park Watercraft Pedal Boat
Paddle boating at Kiwanis Park

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 minutes


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Written Alicia Griffith

Alicia is an ASU Alumna and Tucson native who is unapologetically herself. When she is not sharing her passion for Tempe, she is a devoted dog mom and reality TV enthusiast who has a weakness for charcuterie boards and wine!

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