Editor’s note regarding COVID-19: Please be cautious and courteous of fellow hikers by maintaining a safe distance (at least six feet) between yourself and others at all times including on the Sonoran desert trails. I was extremely disappointed to find on my most recent hike (on the Gateway Loop Trail) that social distancing was not being practiced by many. Please follow CDC guidelines and instructions of your local authorities in all activities during this pandemic crisis.
Taking it easy on the Scottsdale hiking and biking trails
Have you checked out our top 5 Scottsdale hikes (so far) in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve? Ready for more?
There are trails for all abilities in the preserve and other Scottsdale locations. Here are two tips for easy hiking and biking in Scottsdale — a nice easy hike in the preserve plus a favorite easy biking path on the Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt.
Easy hiking and biking in Scottsdale
104th and Bell Trailhead (Bell Road east of Thompson Peak Parkway)
104th Street Trail and Levee Trail — Easy (Hiking, Biking, Horseback Riding)
After a .2 mile walk on the 104th Street Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve you can either continue on the trail toward Gateway Loop Trail or turn right to follow the Levee Trail which will also leads to the Gateway Loop, Bell Pass, and Paradise trails. We were just looking for a short, easy hike so took the Levee Trail option which goes along an old levee — hence the name. It’s a comfortable one-mile hike on mostly wide paths. The terrain has lots of uneven rock, gravel, and sand, so watch your step.
There is a slow, gradual climb, but nothing severe or particularly noticeable beyond a few dips like the one shown below.
I liked the classic desert scenery of cacti, wildflowers, washes, and panoramic vistas on this trail which made me feel like I was on an adventure even though I was so close to civilization and home. There are views of the valley and mountains toward Phoenix to the west and the McDowell Mountains to the east. Spring is a great time of year to take hikes in the desert and we got to see the several white blooms on the saguaros which open only once and for less than a day.
Getting there tip: You just might miss the entrance to the small parking lot at 104th Street on the north side of Bell Road if you’re not looking for it. There are no facilities or water here.
Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt (access points are found in many locations along Hayden Rd.)
Indian Bend Wash Path — Easy (Walking, Biking, Rollerblading)
Scottsdale was named by the League of American Bicyclists as a Bicycle Friendly Community at the Gold Level for 2011-2019 in large part due to the enormous network of paths and trails in the city. A major route is the bike path on the Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt, a lush oasis in the desert with paved paths, lakes, and golf courses that is also used as a flood control channel.
The path is well-suited for walking, jogging, biking, rollerblading, or just resting on a bench along the way. The Indian Bend Wash path is paved with minimal elevation changes, running for 13 miles through the greenbelt (a flood-control channel) connecting Scottsdale to Tempe. It is easily accessed from points along Hayden Road from Shea Boulevard south to Tempe. We loved riding bikes on this trail when we were renting a condo at McCormick Ranch while looking for a home in Scottsdale. We would usually get on the path at McCormick Ranch Parkway and Hayden Road where we would then ride adjacent to McCormick Ranch Golf Course amid green trees, small lakes, waterfowl, and lovely residential areas.
Easy biking tour tip: Here’s a tip for a half-day easy bike tour in Scottsdale.
Safety tip: Use caution when you see watering going on in the greenbelt. The sprinklers in some areas produce wet pavement which can be slippery. So slow down when pavement is wet. Mr. TWS learned the hard way with a pretty bad fall.
Are you an easy hiker and biker? Or do you prefer more adventurous outdoor activities?