Phoenix offers many outdoor escapes, including the Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Recreation Area, a local landmark and hiking destination. There are two primary trails, the Echo Canyon Trail and the Cholla Trail, with the former being more challenging. Both trails offer spectacular city and desert views, however.
For an urban escape, head to Tempe Beach Park and Town Lake in downtown Tempe. Whether you're looking for a picnic spot, a nice place to go on an urban bike ride, or a place for a paddle-boating adventure, head to this sprawling city park.
Another popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts is South Mountain Park, which is the largest municipal park in the United States, and one of the largest urban parks in North America. Don't let the word "urban" throw you off, though. The park is a genuine escape from the concrete and freeways of the city, while still remaining thoroughly accessible. There are 51 miles of trails for horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking for all ability levels, as well as scenic roads full of steep curves and sweeping views.
In the northwest Valley, Lake Pleasant Regional Park is a haven for lovers of the outdoors, offering covered picnic areas, boating, swimming, hiking and fishing. There is a marina available for boat rentals, and a restaurant and bar overlooking the water.