4 Essential walks for Phoenicians
Admit it, it happens to all us Phoenicians–that cycle of hopping from your car to another climate controlled bubble back to your car and then back to Netflix extends a bit beyond summer into the cooler months. We feel guilty for not being outside (no shame…tacos are life) but we don’t feel like trudging up a mountainside either.
Where do you go to take one small step for man/woman-kind that isn’t circuits around the indoor mall again?
After all, Phoenix isn’t exactly known for being walkable…
Heresy! Phoenix is a sanctuary for those yearning to take the extra step! From our ancient canal system to the stony backbone of South Mountain, there’s no shortage of stellar paths to cycle and hike.
And if breaking a hardcore sweat isn’t your thing, if a leisurely stroll on the beaten path quenches your wanderlust, fear not, here are four walks that every Phoenician should check out at least once.
Murphy Bridle Path
Where better to begin than a stroll a hundred years in the making? With its ash and olive tree canopy, the Murphy Bridle Path is a haven for historians and avid walkers. You can thank the Arizona Horse Lovers Club for preserving the dirt path. The easily accessible path begins at Central Ave and Bethany Home Rd (noted by a hanging horseshoe sign) and treks two-miles north to the Arizona Canal. On this path plucked from a storybook, you can enjoy the frequent company of pet-lovers, joggers, cyclists, and even the occasional equestrian. Unique architecture, as old as horse drawn carriages, flanks both sides of the path so take your time and drink in this jaunt through time.
FrayLife Tip: Walk this path in autumn and see the leafy ash and olive trees shed their summer greens.
And the award for best marketing goes to…(drum roll)…Papago Park! It’s hard to see those looming sandstone buttes and not be intrigued. The centrally located swath of lush desert boasts a plethora of attractions to fill one’s itinerary and Instgram catalogue, all of which are accessible on two legs. Strolling the winding East Side trails will take you from one discovery to the next like fishing lagoons shaded under palm tree oases to Hunt’s Tomb pyramid. At day’s end, locals gather to picnic and watch the sunset over the city inside the iconic Hole in the Rock butte. Should you desire a longer trek, the park is bisected by a canal path on the east end where the adventure may continue south toward Tempe Town Lake or north toward Old Town and Arcadia. Come to Papago Park and see why it is called a Phoenix Point of Pride!
FrayLife Tip: Be on the lookout for peach-faced lovebirds often hidden in copses of shade trees, a phenomena of African parrots who now thrive in the arid Phoenix region.
Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area
What was once an industrial no-man’s land, this park is the lovechild of eco-consciousness and rehabilitation. A portion of the Salt River bed was returned to a mature riparian garden in a decade. With over five miles of paved and unpaved trails, it offers the longest and most diverse experience on this list and a chance to walk meditative paths as they meander through thickly wooded wetlands making it a true oasis in the desert. The trail is frequented by bird watchers as the leafy respite teems with fauna. Perhaps most interesting part is how close this gem lies from downtown, making it easy to access and easy to grab food afterwards. Trailheads are off Central and 7th St/7th Ave just south of Downtown and parking can be found north or south of the Central Ave bridge and 7th Ave/7th St bridges. Check out the Audubon Center in the park if you want to learn more about Salt River conservation.
Custom path: South along 5th Avenue from Thomas Rd
If walking the mean streets and acquainting yourself with the city’s pulse is more your style, this path is just for you! You start south of St. Joseph’s Hospital at 5th Ave Cafe. From here, an ambitious walker seeking fresh scenery may find this charming older section of Phoenix a perfect excuse to grab their camera and snap a photo or two. This urban 1.5 mile route south to Roosevelt St is flush with historic homes along palm-flanked streets of the Encanto and Willo neighborhoods. Feel free to wander the narrow streets and gawk at fantastic architecture! There isn’t always sidewalk along this route, but you’ll only be on dirt or grass for a short period. Heading towards the freeway, you pass by the columned Kenilworth School and then into the larger bungalow craftsmanship of Roosevelt. If you have time to hang around, check out Lola Coffee on Roosevelt St and 3rd Ave for a well-earned refreshment and pastry.
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