Living in the city requires regular intervals of time away from home, the car, work and just about everything else. Our favorite way to unwind? Unmounting our mountain bikes from their garage storage racks and hitting the seemingly endless mountain trails around Maricopa County. Most are also suitable for hikers and trail runners.
Many nearby mountains, South Mountain included, open at 5 a.m. and stay open until 7 p.m. Although trails may be closed if a excessive heat advisory is in effect.
While adventure awaits, it’s important not to under-hydrate (active adults should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day) or hesitate to snack on well-balanced, light snacks. Dogs are not permitted on any trails during the summer months.
Here are just a few of our favorite picks for mountain biking.
40th St. Trailhead
9200 N. 40th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85028
40th St. Trailhead provides mountain bikers with a nice network of desert trails right in the middle of the Phoenix metroplex. You will find a combination of technical rock trails, washes, and climbs throughout that will challenge most riders. These trails cross over Trail 100 which allows for lots of other options. The trailhead is suitable for all riders including beginners.
625 N. Galvin Pkwy
Phoenix, AZ 85008
Papago has a mixture of great climbs, rolling and fast descents, technical sections, and fun obstacles. With a large network of trails to conquer, you can put together as little or as many miles, and as much climbing as you’d like. Many beginners choose Papago for its easy, well-maintained trails, but don’t let first appearances fool you. Tougher stuff is out there for more advanced riders, as well.
10919 S. Central Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85042
Accessible year-round, this nine-mile in and nine-mile out loop trail offers a number of activity options, including trail running, hiking and mountain biking. The trail, while relatively flat, has a few climbs and little ups and downs that most beginning bikers will enjoy. Following the trail is a cinch, thanks to the frequent signs. Keep in mind: Desert Classic tends to be very busy during the weekends.
9904 S. 48th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85044
National Trail is composed of one long trail (15 miles) that cuts right through the heart of South Mountain. A local favorite, it is home to the infamous waterfall. You can ride this trail 365, but in the summers, it is not for the faint of heart as temperatures are in the triple-digits. Bring LOTS of water regardless of the season. There are technical rock moves (up and down) interspersed throughout the trail.