Phoenix ’s 181 miles of canals give it one of the most extensive biking and running-trail systems anywhere. One of the best paths in town is along the gravel banks of the Arizona Canal between Scottsdale Road and Central Avenue.
The full distance is just over 11 miles, but luckily, the best parts are at either end: Crunch past Scottsdale  hotels and neighborhoods carved out of old citrus groves near 68th Street or canal-side public art and the Biltmore Hotel on the stretch between Central Avenue and 24th Street.
One of the best introductions to mountain biking in the Sonoran Desert is the Desert Classic trail at South Mountain Park . The 9-mile out-and-back trail (find the trailhead at 9904 S. 48th St., near Guadalupe Road, phoenix.gov/parks/hiksogud.html) runs the gamut of terrain from steep-sided washes to single-track speedways and even a few rocky, technical climbs without becoming impossible for bikers with at least intermediate skills.
Anyone looking for more of a challenge can take a right on the National Trail—where the rocky, steep descents make for one of the toughest rides in the state—to make a loop back to the parking area.
Roadies will find it nearly impossible to get a traffic-free pedaling fix in Phoenix , but one of the city’s rare paved hill climbs is on Valle Vista Road on the south side of Camelback Mountain . The best approach is from the south, either on 48th Street or 56th Street, because the streets link up to form a loop back to wherever you parked your car (or even to the light-rail stop at 44th Street and Washington).