Phoenix is the cosmopolitan heart of Arizona and one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the United States. The year-round sunshine, and the unique terrain of desert, mountain, and rock, make for some unique running experiences. Must-dos are a run amid the rocks during sunrise or sunset, or capturing the desert wildflowers after a rain. Given the area’s size, our guide to running in Phoenix is divided into two sections: Central, including downtown, Tempe, and Scottsdale; and Suburbs, including Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, and Peoria.
The three best places to run in Phoenix are the Desert Botanical Garden/Papago Park, the Indian Wash Greenbelt in Scottsdale, and the Tempe Town Lake Trail. The running options in the heart of downtown Phoenix aren’t 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. The desert terrain and surrounding mountains make for some extensive trail running options, though it can be hilly & rugged. 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. Take the right precautions! Much of the Indian Bend Wash and Tempe Town Lake trails are lit at night. Also, plan your runs to capture gorgeous early or late day light. As for getting around, the auto generally rules here, though Phoenix and Tempe are now connected by an efficient light rail system.