Trails for those staying in town for spring break

Frank Berta

Spring break arrives again for the local community colleges, from March 16 to 22.While some students may find time to travel to popular spring break destinations, many will find themselves in town, busy with jobs and other obligations.

For those that may only have a limited time off, March is the perfect time to enjoy a day out hiking or mountain biking in the valley.

Though there are dozens of great hiking and biking trails around the Phoenix area, here are few popular spots to check out.

South Mountain Park is a local favorite.

Access the trails either from Guadalupe Road, on the East side of the park, or go through the main entrance on Central Avenue. From this entrance you can drive to several trail heads.

South Mountain Park has over 50 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails.

Some of the trails can be a bit confusing, so a good map is recommended for some of the less popular trails.

South Mountain Park has some of the most challenging mountain biking trails, and is popular among more experienced and aggressive riders.

Dan Henri, who works age Rage bicycle shop in Scottsdale, and has been mountain biking for the past 13 years, heads to South Mountain when he’s looking for a serious ride.

“South Mountain has pretty much everything covered, from easier desert single track, to free ride downhill knarliness,” Henri said.

There are some great views from South Mountain to the surrounding valley below.

Just a few miles North of Fountain Hills is McDowell Mountain Park.

This park contains over 40 miles of multi-use trails, including a long 15 mile loop.

In addition, there is a competitive 15 miles of track, with skill levels for beginners, intermediate and advanced mountain bikers.

“The Pemberton trail is my favorite trail in the Valley and the competitive race loops are fun, too,” REI bicycle employee said.

McDowell Mountain park also has many shorter trails, and, like South Mountain, there are some great views of the surrounding desert.

There is a six dollar entry fee to access the park. Maps are available at the entry station, from the visitors center and at the kiosk.

Take McDowell Mountain Road out of Fountain Hills, towards Rio Verde, drive 3 miles to the McDowell Mountain Park Drive, which leads into the park.

Papago Park , located at McDowell Road and Galvin Parkway, is another favorite among mountain bikers, as well as those interested in climbing the rock features.

The park has trails on both sides of Galvin parkway, and is a good ride for mountain bikers wanting a less challenging ride, or a good place to start for new riders.

Ryan Farrell, 31, of Scottsdale, who has biked at all three parks, likes Papago park best, “I can take the canal south to the park, or all the way to Tempe Town Lake”. “They have good single track trails, it’s not too technical, and easier for beginners”.

The Crosscut Canal path can take cyclists north, to Scottsdale, or south, to Tempe.

With the introduction of the new light rail system, riders can take the train from Tri-City Pavilions, get off Tempe Beach Park station, or Curry Road station and bike north to the park.

About Author

These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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