United States

Phoenix - Central

Includes Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale. See Also Our Guide to the Phoenix Suburbs

Phoenix is the cosmopolitan heart of Arizona and one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the United States. The desert-like climate produces year-round sunshine, and the unique terrain of mountains of gorgeous red rocks make Phoenix a unique city for running. A “must do”  in Phoenix is to plan a run amid the rocks during sunrise or sunset to enjoy the spectacular light, or to run on paths through desert wildflowers after a rain. Phoenix is a large and sprawling area, so our guide to running in Phoenix is divided into two sections: Central, including downtown, Tempe, and Scottsdale; and Suburbs, including ** .  While the auto generally rules here, Phoenix and Tempe are now connected by an efficient light rail system.

The best places to run in central are Phoenix trend toward Tempe, highlighted by the Desert Botanical Garden and Papago Park, the Tempe Town Lake Trail, and the Indian Wash Greenbelt connecting to Scottsdale.  As for central Phoenix, running options in the heart of downtown are not great. It’s better in North Phoenix: Murphy’s Bridle Path, the Arizona Canal Trail, numerous multi-use paths, and recreation areas such as Dreamy Draw and Reach 11 that feature extensive paths. With the desert terrain and surrounding mountains, the trail running options in the Phoenix area are extensive. We’ve highlighted some of the more accessible, less technical trail running spots.

Important note for runners: the weather in Phoenix is extremely hot from May through October, with temperatures often exceeding 110F. Plus, the terrain is very open and exposed. Please take the right preautions!

Check Out Our Other Arizona locations!

Tuscon to the south and Sedona to the north

See All Routes
  • All Routes
  • Iconic Routes
  • Weather & Climate
  • Where To Stay
  • Stores & Group Runs
  • Events

Phoenix is in the desert. Which means it can be brutally hot. In summer, temps reach 120F and don’t even dip below 80F at night, so hydrating and wearing sun block are critically important. The weather’s great from November-April, but desert mornings can be chilly. Some running groups go early in the morning in summer. Topographically, the city itself is flat but is surrounded by mountains, affording some amazing trail running opportunities.

STAY

Phoenix has no shortage of hotels and most travelers stay in Central Phoenix (aka Downtown), Scottsdale or Tempe to stay close to the action. We recommend staying in downtown Tempe rather than downtown Phoenix for more interesting and easily accessible running options.

Central Phoenix — Downtown

Bordered by Thomas Road on the north, Buckeye Road to the south and bookended by Seventh and 19th streets, downtown is Phoenix‘s historic and cultural hub, with 19th-century Historic Heritage Square at its center. Here you are close to restaurants, shops and museums. Mass transit links downtown with Sky Harbor International Airport,Scottsdale and Tempe.

Scottsdale

Twenty- five minutes northwest of downtown Phoenix, Scottsdale is where to stay in Phoenix if you’re looking to rub shoulders with the well-heeled. Old Town Scottsdale has bustling cafés by day and a buzzing night life. Try staying within some proximity of the Greenbelt for good running options. Also the Phoenician and JW Marriott Scottsdale are at the foot of Camelback Mtn.

Tempe

Laid-back Tempe, 25 minutes southwest of downtown Phoenix and below Scottsdale, is easily accessible from downtown Phoenix via the Valley Metro Light Rail. There are great running options accessible from downtown Tempe: the lake trail, Papago Park, and the southern end of the Scottsdale greenbelt.

Running Stores

Road Runner Sports
Since 1983, Road Runner Sports has grown from selling running shoes out of a garage to over 40 locations across America today. After 35 years, they are still family-run and proud of it! They are committed to fitting runners, walkers, and gym goers in perfect fitting shoes. There are local locations in Scottsdale and Tempe.

Runner’s Den
As Arizona’s original running specialist, Runner’s Den has been a pillar of the Arizona running community since its doors opened in 1978. Votedne of America’s “Top Ten” running stores. Group runs: Wednesday at 6pm (a scenic out-and-back along the Arizona Canal and through the Biltmore), Saturday morning at 6am, and every other Thursday at 6pm for a trail run starting at Dreamy Draw Park.

Sole Sports Running Zone
With 2 stores in the Phoenix area, owned by professional triathlete Lance Muzlay. Group runs:
Scottsdale: Tuesday & Thursday 6:30pm/Saturday 6:00am/7:00am winter.
Tempe: Monday & Thursday 6:30pm/Saturday 6:00am/7:00am winter.

Sole Sports Arcadia (formerly iRun)
Full service running, walking, and hiking shop located in the beautiful Arcadia near Scottsdale. Reviewed as the best running store in Phoenix, especially for trail running. Group runs: 5 mile group runs Thursday at 5:30pm (Happy Hour 5 Mile Run) and Saturday at 6:00am

GROUP RUNS

Scottsdale Beer Runners. Great running group. Meets every Wednesday at Fate Brewery on Shea at 7:00. It’s a 3-mile run followed by some of the best craft beer and food that Scottsdale has to offer. All abilities are welcome! They average about 25 runners/walkers dependent on weather.

Aravaipa Running
A very popular running group (read-large turnout) with numerous events and weekly group runs. Dedicated to creating a vibrant community centered around being outdoors.

Meet Me Downtown
Meet Me Downtown (MMDT) connects people of all ages to downtown Phoenix for a weekly social walk/run.

Arizona Road Racers
With over 1200 members, Arizona Road Racers (ARR) is the largest and oldest running club in Arizona and is one of the largest of such clubs in the USA. They are well organized, do races all year long, and host fun and affordable events.

 

Events

Due to the extreme heat in the summer, most running events in Phoenix are held fall through spring.

Hot Chocolate (yes, really) December. 5K, 15K
Held in Scottsdale, this race is a chocolate lovers dream — marshmallow sweet stations dotted along the course with a fondue station at the end, not to mention a Finishers Mug filled with goodies.

Midnight Madness December 31st. 5K
End one year and begin another with this New Year’s Eve 5K. Fun, festivities and sparkling cider toasted at midnight.

Rock N’ Roll Arizona January. 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon.
This course is flat and fast with epic views of the valley of the sun, including Papago Park and Tempe town lake. Participants will enjoy live bands, cheer teams, spirited water stations and other entertainment along the course.

Runner’s Den Pancake RunFebruary. 5K, 10K 15K
Limited to only 2,000 runners, this 5K, 10K or “Double Stack” 15K race is sponsored by IHOP with a complimentary pancake breakfast. Originally staged in 1979 to showcase the talents of marathon legend Bill Rodgers and the opening of Paradise Valley Mall, the event remains a Valley classic.

Pat’s Run April 4.2 miles
Pat’s Run is the signature fundraising event of the Pat Tillman Foundation, held to commemorate the day Pat lost his life in Afghanistan serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment, Pat’s Run is a 4.2 Mile Run/Walk that winds through the streets of Tempe to Sun Devil Stadium, ending at the 42-yard line of Frank Kush Field, symbolic of the #42 jersey Pat wore as an ASU Sun Devil.