bike trails in scottsdale arizona

By Denise Nelson

Just recently I found myself in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s a beautiful city with a lot to do, enjoy and see, so of course I had to see the landscapes and what the city had to offer a cyclist like myself. I took to the roads early in the morning to ride through the old-town Scottsdale, looking at the architecture of the buildings and the unique feeling this side of town could offer. It’s not only what the city has to offer in views but also the benefits of cycling that are always a good reason to get out and on that bike!

>Scottsdale has been recognized for its biker friendliness and recognized by the League of American Bicyclists at the gold level. It’s a clean way to get around and, in a bicycle-safe community, it provides safe transportation and accommodation to bikers. If you like to cycle with a canine, Scottsdale is the place to do it. They allow pets to come along on your travels… just as long as you pick up after them!

There are many options to choose from between paved or unpaved trails and even mountain trails. They range in distance, but they also offer a variety of views as you travel through different parts of Scottsdale and experience something new.

 The Stunning Views On Scottsdale’s Bike Trails

Echo Canyon Trail head at Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Arizona

As the sun rose higher in the sky, the weather was warming up and I decided to ride down the Scottsdale Greenbelt, which takes you down through Scottsdale to Tempe Town Lake. In total, this trip is 14.5 miles (23 km) and worth it for every bit of scenery you see along the way (especially if you stop for a small detour to see Marguerite Lake.).

There are also two paved bike trail sets to choose from, or do both: the McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails and the DC Ranch Paved Trails. I chose to do the McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails since there were more of them and offered more visual stimulation.

McDowell Mountain Ranch Paved Trails

There are many options for mountain bikers as well. We took to Tom’s Thumb, which is part of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and allows for beautiful mountain rock formations, desert landscape, plenty of desert wildlife on the trail and the vast blue sky above you.

On the mountain trail through McDowell Mountain Regional Park, you can see a variety of mountains, hills, rocks, cacti, desert plants, desert landscape, wildlife and hikers. This trail is beautiful and leaves a lasting impression on you, especially when seen at sunset. The sunset in Scottsdale is this beautiful purple-red-orange scene that paints the desert beautiful colors. The picture you see while riding your bike through this desert at sunset is absolutely gorgeous and is something that you wouldn’t want to miss.

Other Bike Trails in Scottsdale, Arizona to Cycle

Arizona desert landscape, Phoenix,Scottsdale area.

Another trail to ride on would be the Indian Bend Wash Path. It is a beautiful, lush and green 22 mile (35.5 km) expanse with parks, waterways and greenery. What is great about this trail is the fact that there are tunnels and bridges that go over and under the roadways so you don’t have to take a break from the beautiful view while you ride.

I also recommend the South Mountain Trail. It’s a 16,000-acre park and offers tough, but interesting trails for multiple levels of bikers. I went on the Desert Classic trail, which is 9 miles (14.5km) with a beautiful view of the rich greenery and mountainous landscape offered only by the desert. Here you’ll find one-of-a-kind views of the rock formations and steep cliffs.

Following South Mountain, I would also recommend the Browns Ranch Trails. It’s roughly 13 miles (21km) long. The wildlife you’ll see range from rabbits and squirrels to desert tortoises and snakes. Rock formations, natural landscaping and relaxed trails provide for an easy ride to enjoy a desert scene with a gorgeous view.

If you are more advanced in your riding you’ll want to check out Sunrise Trail. It’s a fairly new trail that is 10 miles (16km) long and very rugged and steep. The trail is very narrow so you need to watch for hikers and for your own safety as cacti grow close to the trails. It is also a single-track and has a steep elevation of 1,700 ft (518m).

Lastly for mountain biking, I would say to finish with the Whiskey Bottle Trail. It’s a short 3 mile (5km) trail that is for intermediate-advanced bike riders. The trail starts off easy but you gain a steep increase of 800 ft (244m) into a more rocky trail. There are tight curves and dangerous turns and terrain. Overall, this trail is a short, but rewarding, trail to bike on as it provides a beautiful view at the end, overlooking the vast desert with it’s beautiful rocks, scenery, and animals.

The Many Colours Of Cycling in Scottsdale

Serene iconic Arizona desert morning sunrise with enormous powerful sun on horizon line framed by Saguaro cactus - gorgeous lens flare.

Taking to the roads, there are plenty of street lanes for you to get to any place of business you’d like. Taking this route allows you to see the art on the above route of the Indian Bend Wash Path, get to bookstores, grocery stores and more, all while taking in the view of homes and the architecture styles of old and new homes built in Scottsdale.

If you don’t want to go alone, then you have the options of group rides! They welcome any type of rider, at any level, and they offer multiple time frames to fit your schedule. Each day of the week, they’ll take you on different trails, paths, and parks. This allows for a memorable experience while meeting new people with similar interests. Riding together allows for a deeper experience in a new place with the added personal connection while talking with other riders.

The amount of trails and scenery available in Scottsdale is amazing. There are so many trails and paths to explore that you could have a fantastic weeklong experience. A wonderful bonus to the trails and paths are the lakes, mountains, and parks that are available to bike riders.

If you ride early in the morning, you can see the sunrise cast its beautiful rays over colour across the vast desert. At night, the painting-like sunset casts that colour over the desert leaving it bathed in a beautiful nighttime glow.

Tips Before You Head Out On A Scottsdale Bike Trail

Overall, if you want to take on any of these trails, whether you are a beginner or an advanced biker, you need to make sure you are prepared and in shape for the trail you are planning to ride. Make sure your bike is comfortable and you have enough water and snacks to keep you safe on your ride. Always wear your helmet and dress appropriately for the weather and the trail type. Make sure to map your trail so you always stay on track and don’t get lost and make sure to take everything into consideration so you can have a great ride!


denise nelson profile picABOUT THE AUTHOR

Denise is a mountain biker who enjoys cross-country biking around the world. She worked as a trainer for 6 years before becoming a co-founder of a private biking lessons school to teach people how to properly train & ride bikes to prepare them for cross-country & any activities they want to indulge in. She’s also a founder of MountainBikeEZ where you can learn about mountain bikes & mountain biking.

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