Caption: National Trail Trek - beginning the trek in South Mountain Park
The City of Phoenix's desert preserves offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities. Here are some of the more popular activities:
- Hiking - This is the most popular form of recreation in the preserves. View all trail maps.
Mountain Biking - Mountain bikes are allowed on all trails, except for Piestewa Peak's summit trail. The more popular trails are South Mountain's Desert Classic Trail, the Phoenix Mountains Preserve Trail 100, and the many trails of Papago Park. The Sonoran Preserve in northern Phoenix offers world-class single track. In the southern Sonoran Preserve, popular mountain bike trails include Dixie Mountain Loop and the more technical Great Horned Owl Trail. All southern Sonoran Trails are accessed from 1901 W. Desert Vista Trail parking lot. In the northern Sonoran Preserve (just south of Carefree Highway and 7th Avenue) are the Sidewinder, Ridgeback and Ocotillo Trails. The Deem Hills Recreation Area, with access at 5050 W. Andrea Lane, offers a more rugged biking experience on the Ridgeline Trail, the area's most popular for mountain biking.
- Road Biking - Papago Park and South Mountain Park are the most popular locations for road biking. South Mountain Park has over 15 miles of roads, with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet. Dreamy Draw also has a bike path that runs through the preserve. A great time to road bike is during monthly Silent Sundays at South Mountain Park.
- Horseback Riding - Horses are allowed on all trails, but due to different trail conditions, we recommend these in particular:
Reach 11 Recreation Area
Trails and trailheads in the Reach 11 Recreation Area are open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset. (See trail map).Please lock up valuables out of view in your vehicle before heading out. * Please stay on trails and Leave No Trace by picking up trash and animal waste. Arizona Horse Lovers Park is located in the Reach 11 Recreation area, at 19224 N. Tatum Rd., 1.4 miles north of Bell Road, just north of the Central Arizona Project Canal and just south of Hwy. 101. The Horse Lover's Park consists of four equestrian arenas. The main arena is a 360' x 180', lighted arena that features an announcer's stand, bleacher seating, and public address system. The second arena, Horse Lovers Arena, (roping) is a lighted 270' x 140' pipe rail arena with announcer's stand, bleacher seating, and public address system. The third arena, Schuff Arena, (cutting) is a 250' x 104' pipe rail arena that also offers lights, announcer's stand, bleacher seats, and public address system. The Park also offers a lighted practice paddock, water troughs, wash racks, tie stations, cattle pens, and picnic tables.
Horseback riding is allowed on all Sonoran Preserve trails, however,the southern trails are currently easiest to access until crews complete construction of the trail parking lot for that area.
The Desert Vista Trailhead, 1901 W. Desert Vista Trail, which serves the Sonoran Preserve's northern section, includes equestrian only parking with hitch rails and an equine drinking fountain:
Take the short climb up Hawk’s Nest to Dixie Mountain Loop. From here, you can access Valley Verde connecting to the inner Sonoran Preserve Trails Cactus Wren and Great Horned Owl. Many riders do the entire Dixie Mountain Loop and back down Hawk’s Nest trail, a distance of about 4.25 miles.
Another route is to again take Hawk’s Nest trail a quarter mile and merge onto Desert Tortoise which takes you to Valle Verde. From there riders can access Cactus Wren and Great Horned Owl trails a short distance away.
North Mountain/Piestewa Peak/Dreamy Draw Areas
Trail 100 (Charles Christensen) - Highly recommended. Key staging areas are: Mountain View Park, 7th Street Access Lot, Dreamy Draw Park and 40th Street Access Lot.
Trail 1A (Perl Charles) – Highly recommended. Staging out of Dreamy Draw Park.
Trail 8A (Quartz Ridge) - Staging out of 40th Street trailhead, south of Shea Boulevard.
Trail 220 and 220A - Staging out of Dreamy Draw Park.
South Mountain Park
Desert Classic Trail - Highly recommended. Accessed from Pima Canyon or Beverly Canyon trailhead.
Beverly Canyon Trail – Highly recommended. Accessed from the Beverly Canyon trailhead.
Javelina Trail - Accessed from the Beverly Canyon trailhead.
Pima Wash Trail – Highly recommended. Accessed from Pima Canyon.
Pima East and West Loops - Accessed from Pima Canyon or Beverly Canyon trailhead.
Ranger Trail - The lower section of this trail is highly recommended and can be accessed from the
Equestrian Area inside South Mountain Park. (Many riders like to make a loop trail using Ranger, Bajada, Max Delta and Cross Cut Trails to get a short ride.)
Bajada Trail – Accessed from the Equestrian Area by way of the Ranger Trail. Takes riders into the San Juan area of South Mountain Park.
Ponderosa Stables is located just outside the Central Ave gate of South Mountain Park, where horses are available for rent.
Horseback riding is also allowed on all Deem Hills trails. The most popular for equestrians are the Circumference and Palisade Trails.
Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area
The north and south banks have paved and dirt multi-use trails.
- Archery - Papago Park has an archery range. Hours of availability are sunrise to sunset.
- Orienteering - There is a course available at Papago Park.
- Bird Watching - While you are likely to observe birds at any of our locations, the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area is the best place for viewing birds. There have been over 250 species observed here. Rio Salado Bird List
- Fishing - Arizona Game and Fish operates the urban fishing program at Papago Park.