If you’re looking for the perfect balance between biking, entertainment, and fun relaxation outdoors, Tempe is a great place to stay during your visit to the Greater Phoenix Area. Tempe is home to the Arizona State University (ASU) and full of life with year-round music, food and art festivals, a great bar and restaurant scene, plenty of activities to do at Tempe Town Lake and with Papago Park and South Mountain nearby there are a number of mountain bike trails you can ride to.
The access to outdoor activities is another perk of choosing to stay in Tempe. If you have a car you can quickly reach a number of recreation areas with hundreds of miles of multi-use trails. Even without a rental car, it is only a few miles of riding on the road from whatever hotel in Tempe to get to some of the best mountain biking trails nearby.
Papago Park is on the north side of Tempe Town lake, directly across the Mill Avenue Bridge from downtown Tempe. Papago is the closest option for mountain bike riding in Tempe. The mountain bike trails in Papago Park are great for honing your skills or just having fun with your friends. Some trail sections challenge riders with rocky chunk and tough climbs, but there are still plenty of options for beginners! If you’re new to the area (and mountain biking) you’ll be happy to know that Papago Park has an easy network of trails that make it impossible to get lost. String a few of Papago’s loops together and you’ll never ride the same trail twice!
Weekly in the summer, local riders get together for “Short Track Papago”, an informal race in Papago Park, and they post their courses here. “Tempe Cyclocross Tuesday” is another group that gets together every Tuesday during fall to ride various parks around Tempe, and you can stay updated about their rides here!
South Mountain Park/Preserve
South Mountain is the largest municipal park in the United States at over 16,000 acres and with that, over 50 miles of designated, multi-use trails with something for every ability level. Hop on your bike and ride to South Mountain Park from Tempe, expect to add about 5 miles on the road (each way) to your total distance for the day.
Desert Classic Trail: If you’re looking for a long, accessible mountain bike ride that will have your legs burning by the end, The Desert Classic Trail is good ride to try. It is one of South Mountain’s more popular rides because of its fun rolling singletrack and beautiful views of the desert as you spin along. While there is little elevation change over all, this trail will be a challenge to beginners with the technical terrain it covers such as such as semi-rough and rocky terrain, ups and downs and wash crossings. Access the Desert Classic Trail from the Pima Canyon trailhead or the Desert Foothills trailhead.
Javelina Canyon to National and Mormon Trail (Loop): Mix it up on South Mountain with a mountain bike ride over three different trails! Start from the Beverly Canyon trailhead and warm up with a climb up the Javelina Canyon trail. The most difficult section of singletrack begins as you hop on the National trail until you hit the Mormon Loop trail. This ride will be full of short, rocky, and steep sections but the view is spectacular from the ridgeline and there is nothing like mountain biking the backbone of a mountain. A ride with various levels of difficulty, it will be a challenging, but even more rewarding on the descent.
Between the cycling and mountain biking clubs and teams of ASU; the major biking events held in Tempe such as Tempe Tour de Fat, 6 hours of Papago, and Xterra Off Road Triathlon; and locals who love to live a laid-back-beer-lovin’-yet-active-lifestyle, you’ll find Tempe is a popular mountain biking destination. If you need to rent a mountain bike to take advantage of the trails nearby, check out AOA’s mountain bike rental options here. Delivery options are available to hotels in Tempe.