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Get active: Phoenix

Best outdoor activities in Phoenix

“The call of the desert” is real in Phoenix. The picturesque mountains and otherworldly backdrop of cacti and shrubs make you want to get outside and explore what’s out there. Luckily, you don’t have to go wandering or risk getting lost, as Phoenix has thousands of miles of trails to safely explore the desert. Aim to travel in the fall-spring and make sure to bring plenty of water even if it’s below 80 degrees. Now that’s said, here are our top places to get active in Phoenix. 

Piestewa Peak’s Summit Trail

The summit trail is 2.2 miles straight up with 1,100 feet of elevation gain, making it popular with runners, hikers, bikers, and pretty much anyone looking to sweat. The best time to go is from October through March, when temperatures remain reasonable (i.e. below 90). Bring plenty of water regardless of when you go. The views of Phoenix and the surrounding desert are excellent and make for a great sunset or sunrise experience. 

South Mountain Park & Preserve

Located around the Mountain just south of Phoenix, this very literally named park has over 95 hiking and biking trails ranging in difficulty and elevation. Plenty of room to escape the city crowds and get a patch of desert to yourself. Excellent opportunity to see desert wildlife and beautiful wildflowers year round.

Papago Park

A nice mix of urban and rural located next to Sky Harbor airport and between Tempe and Scottsdale. Great for families with lots of activities including picnicking, fishing, strolling through the Desert Botanical Gardens, and the Phoenix Zoo. Open year round and best anytime outside of the heat of summer. 

Arizona Canal Trail

A 70-mile mix of paved and unpaved trail along the canal. Runs through downtown Scottsdale. The Canal Trail can be seen better by mountain bike because of its length, but walking or running portions is entirely possible. Little to no cars to worry about, but it’s still well-frequented. Mostly flat and out of the mountains.

Tempe Town Lake

Just across the freeway from Papago Park lies Tempe Town Lake, a small, man-made reservoir on the banks of the Salt River. Walking, running, biking, and picnicking are all welcomed. A great place to get away from the city for a few hours and across the river from Arizona State University.