Pack the trail mix, because Greater Phoenix is heaven for mountain biking. Between its parks and preserves, the metro area boasts hundreds of miles of mountain-bike-friendly trails that put you in the midst of the Sonoran Desert, often just minutes from urban centers. As you careen around switchbacks, keep your eyes peeled for saguaro and prickly pear cactuses, spring wildflowers and desert critters such as roadrunners, coyotes and javelinas.
In northeast Phoenix, parts of Phoenix Mountains Preserve offer lengthy, easy treks, such as the 10.7-mile Charles M. Christiansen Memorial Trail, which uses a series of tunnels to cross under a freeway and busy streets. Or try more challenging rides, such as the 4.8-mile Perl Charles Memorial Trail, which loops the backside of landmark Piestewa Peak.
At South Mountain Park, the National Trail follows 14.5 miles of the mountain’s ridgeline, offering great views of downtown Phoenix. For those who want to hone their skills, the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department has specially constructed competitive tracks (as well as general mountain biking trails) at Estrella Mountain, McDowell Mountain and White Tank Mountain regional parks.
Don’t own a mountain bike? No problem. The outfitters mentioned below offer rentals, guided tours and transportation to and from area hotels.
Moderate to difficult
Exploring the great outdoors
Written by Nora Burba Trulsson. Originally printed in the 2016 Phoenix Official Travel Guide, published by Madden Media.
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