Scottsdale is an appealing destination for cyclists of all skill levels and interests. For off-road warriors, the city's ruggedly beautiful open desert is the main attraction. But for cyclists looking for a fun, relaxing ride through the city's urban center, the city has some of the best bike paths in the Phoenix Metro area. This half-day excursion travels across most of the Scottsdale greenbelt and comes to about two to three easy riding hours.
One of the best places to enjoy a relaxing cruise through urban Scottsdale is the city's Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt. The greenbelt traverses more than 11 miles through the city's parks, lakes, paths and golf courses.
The greenbelt multiuse path has more than 24 grade-separated crossings, which means cyclists can ride most of the trail without having to navigate major cross traffic. The Scottsdale greenbelt was constructed as a flood-control project between 1976 and 1980. Today, the greenbelt path offers one of the best urban bike rides in Arizona.
The Scottsdale Greenbelt bike path winds around several man-made lakes — Photo courtesy of Dru Bloomfield
Start your ride just south of Scottsdale at Tempe Beach Park, which can be accessed from the Mill Avenue light rail station in Tempe. There are several cafes and restaurants in the area, including Monti's La Casa Vieja, a Southwestern grill located inside the oldest building in Tempe. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, but there are other eateries in the vicinity if you're getting an early start.
After fueling up, head north to Scottsdale by riding across Tempe Beach Park's pedestrian bridge, which offers excellent views of Tempe Town Lake. Continue north past the Highway 202 underpass. The path crosses a small nature habitat and rest area.
Keep an eye out for sudden bends, as the path adjusts to access tunnel underpasses located below major streets. Underpasses can be dim and dusty, so proceed with caution. At McKellips Lake, the bike path will split, but either way is fine since the route eventually reconnects at Scottsdale's Vista Del Camino Park, which has a lake, playground and picnic ramadas.
The lake attracts ducks and herons, so stop to take a drink of water and enjoy the scenery.
The bike path at Chaparral Park in Scottsdale — Photo courtesy of Scottsdale Parks & Recreation
Continue north to cross the overpass at Osborn Road, taking care to navigate the steep bridge carefully. Follow the path to Indian School Park, a huge public park featuring tennis courts, volleyball courts and another lake. Stay to the left of the lake to catch the access tunnel. Next up, cross Hayden Park to arrive at Chaparral Park, a large urban park.
After stopping to enjoy the view at Chaparral Park, head west on Chaparral Road for less than a mile to arrive at Randy's Restaurant and Ice Cream, a Scottsdale diner where you can treat yourself to a cool drink, and maybe even an ice cream treat.