Minutes from nearly anywhere in the Valley, a wonderful and relatively safe outdoor adventure can be had by nearly any decent bike rider, on nearly any bike that has gears and fat tires. Start from South Mountain Park's Pima Canyon entrance near 48th Street and Elliot Road. Once on the trail of rolling hills, the ordinary world vanishes. The single-track trail guides riders and hikers through miles of up-and-down and across much of the 16,000-acre, surprisingly lush Sonoran Desert park. Endorphins will flood your brain as you strain to conquer the uphill portions, followed by tsunamis of adrenaline on the twisty paths down. A few technical sections may cause you to push your bike uphill for a few feet — practicing these parts and nailing them is very satisfying. It's great to go out and back a few miles, like a dusty luge run. But if you keep going, the goodness continues for a total of roughly nine miles each way. Doing the entire 18 miles can be a mini-epic sort of experience, yet one that even novice riders can handle (as long as they bring plenty of water).
Readers Choice: South Mountain