Caption: Hikers embark on South Mountain's National Trail, one of the parks' most popular.
This is the most popular form of recreation in Phoenix desert preserves. Choose from more than 180 miles of desert trails citywide.
- View all trail maps
- Take a family hike
- Hike with your dog
- Barrier free trails
- Find out about recreation opportunities for residents with disabilities.
Look for wildlife and signs of ancient civilizations in Phoenix Preserves:
- Search for Common Wildlife of the Sonoran Desert
- Bird Watch
- Identify Sonoran Desert Cactus, Trees and Plants
- Learn About the Ancient Hohokam and Petroglyphs (Rock Art) in the Preserves
Mountain bikes are allowed on all trails, except for the summit trails on Piestewa Peak and Camelback Mountain. Below we've listed several of the more popular Phoenix trails for mountain bikes:
Papago Park (all trails).
Sonoran Preserve 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.
- Deem Hills Recreation Area. The Ridgeline Trail is this area's most popular for mountain 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.
With exception of certain accessible and summit trails, horses are allowed on all trails. Guided horseback rides are available at South Mountain Park from Ponderosa Stables.
Papago Park has an archery range. Hours of availability are sunrise to sunset. 62nd Street and Oak. Open: Dawn to Dusk.
There is a course available at Papago Park.
In addition to the common Sonoran Desert bird species listed above, the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area is an active riparian area that attracts dozens of species of migrating birds that pass through the area. Birders have document sightings of more than 200 species. Rio Salado Bird List
The city of Phoenix has contracted with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to stock lakes at six city parks: Cesar Chavez (Alvord Lake), Cortez, Desert West, Encanto, Papago, and Steele Indian School.
Arizona Game and Fish operates the urban fishing program at Papago Park.
Educational Places to visit in the Preserves