Type: Hiking & Biking Trail
Location: Popago Park
Terrain: Smooth dirt to washed out and rocky
Distance: 2.5 miles to infinite loop
Hiking Rating: Good
Biking Rating: Good
Last Biked On: May 14, 2013
Map: Google Map : City of Phoenix PDF Map
Papago Park is the park that feels most like it is in the middle of a big city. Some of the trails skirt along major thoroughfares and golf courses and buildings always seem to be right there. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does make the trails here seem different from the rest of Phoenix. It is also close to many bike paths/lanes and this makes it the easiest park to bicycle to (choose the “Bicycling” on this map under Satellite/Map view to see what I mean).
There is ample parking right at the trailhead with a water fountain, ramada, but no toilet. There another large ramada in the middle of the park. The most interesting feature is the amphitheater on the north side of the mountain right on McDowell Road. There is a second small strip parking lot on McDowell (see map below).
A mellow landscape for a mellow hike. Nothing challenging, just easy clear trails up and around the two small mountains (let’s call them hills).
This is the best place in Phoenix for your first mountain bike ride. It doesn’t get any easy in Phoenix than this. The only thing to watch out for is the loose sandy spots when crossing the small gullys that crisscross the park. They aren’t much, but they are enough sink your front wheel, so be careful of those and take them slowly. There are some other loose spots here and there to look out for that even experienced riders can sometimes get tripped up on. Easy by Phoenix standards, but for folks coming from groomed dirt trails, the sandy conditions here will take some getting used to. This is where I’ll take my son when and if he wants his tires to see some dirt. All in all, a great spot for novice riders to get a start.
The looping nature of the trails makes the whole place feel like more like a mountain bike playground. The last time I was out, I looped around for 13 miles so there is enough fun here for intermediate riders. There is a section of small rollers that are fun and this would be an easy ride on a single speed.