Papago Park’s red sandstone buttes speckled with holes like swiss cheese make it an unmistakable attraction for mountain biking in the Phoenix area. The park is not big, but there is a variety of mountain bike trails to switch it up and plenty of punchy climbs, fast descents and technical sections to keep things interesting.
Many refer to Papago Park as the “bunny slope” of mountain biking in Phoenix because it has a number of the easiest mountain bike trails in Phoenix, making it great for introductory trail riding. But you can’t sell Papago short, it also boasts trails of significant difficulty level with chunky rock and loose fast descents that raise the level of challenge. Either way, you’ll find a great variation of technical and easy mountain bike trails at Papago Park.
Also check out: 3 Best Mountain Bike Areas in Scottsdale
Riding in Papago Park will give you classic views of Tempe’s downtown and Tempe Town Lake, downtown Phoenix to the west, and South Mountain Park/Preserve in the distance. If you’re riding the Ranger Office Loop, you’ll be able to peek down at the Phoenix Zoo (look for the Bighorn Sheep!) and if you’re riding the trails on the west side of Galvin Parkway, you’ll see the Desert Botanical Garden. Fun fact: you are riding on the three city borderlines of Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale.
Got your morning off to a late start but still want to get a ride in? When you’re pressed for time but still want to ride, Papago Park is the perfect spot. Choose to sprint a longer loop like the Elliot Ramada Loop or the Double Butte Loop, or go easy on a small loop like the (easy) Ranger Office Loop. Ride as long as you want with a seemingly unlimited amount of options for looping and skipping across to different trails.
If you’re mountain bike riding at Papago Park, all you have to do is ride south out of the park onto Galvin Parkway, left on Van Buren and continue south across the Mill Avenue Bridge until you hit a great stretch of restaurants, breweries and shops. A few places to try are NCounter, Blasted Barley Beer Co, Pedal Haus Brewery, and La Bocca.
There’s really nothing better than a mountain bike ride with variety on the trail, city views and the notion that a post-ride beer and meal are waiting for you. So, if you’re ready to ride, let’s go! If you’re ready, but without a ride, check out our mountain bike rentals– we’ll set you up with something perfect for riding Papago Park. If you’re looking for an easy ride and aren’t sure about dirt trails, you might want to look into riding Phoenix’s canal system.