Some of the finest mountain-biking trails in the U.S. snake their way up the rocky peaks and through the desert washes in and around Scottsdale . The Pemberton Trail is one of the best.
Located just north of Scottsdale in the scenic McDowell Mountain Regional Park (www.maricopa.gov/parks/mcdowell ), this 15.4-mile loop shoots riders up and down rolling hills along a trail that alternately narrows to single-track and widens to open speed-runs. It’s easy enough for novice riders to navigate but varied enough to keep even the hard-core adventurer interested.
Another good destination for the intrepid mountain biker is the maze of trails beneath the power lines running north of Pima and Dynamite Roads. Pedal northeast of the parking area along a Jeep road. After a mile or so, single-track trails start to branch off to the right and left. Most go up and down the rocky hills nearby and eventually return to the access road under the power lines, so just pick your favorite and let it rip.
For a more organized experience—not to mention transportation and bike rentals—call Desert Biking Adventures (602/320-4602, www.desertbikingadventures.com ). The company specializes in three- and four-hour biking tours that include bikes, helmets, and other attire, and a guide will pick you up at most Scottsdale  resorts and hotels. Rides can be customized by skill level, and most are arranged so that pedaling uphill is optional. Tours start at $80.
Road bikers shouldn’t feel left out, either. Speeding along Pima Road to Bartlett Lake (start anywhere north of Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard) is popular with the skinny-tire crowd. The ride passes through stunning high desert and quite a few tony neighborhoods, but the full distance from Frank Lloyd Wright to the dam is about 60 miles. Park farther north along Pima for a quicker out-and-back.
Other good tips can be had at local bike shops, including Rage Cycles (2724 N. Scottsdale Rd., 480/968-8116, www.ragecycles.com ), or from the Phoenix Metro Bicycle Club (www.sportsfun.com/gaba ), which schedules regular group rides.