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The paved Rio Salado Pathway runs along both banks of the Salt River in Tempe. The generally dry waterway was expanded into Tempe Town Lake in 1999, and the scenic waterfront area is now a popular recreational, residential and commercial destination. Often, the trail is referred to as the Tempe Town Lake Trail.
On the lake's south side, the trail connects Arizona State University's main Tempe campus with Tempe Beach Park, as well as the Tempe Marketplace retail mecca. A newer extension on the trail's eastern end continues the trail behind the Tempe Marketplace and under the State Route 202 and 101 interchange to an end at Riverview Park in Mesa. Sloan Park, the spring training home of Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs, was recently built in the park, bringing massive crowds to the area on game days.
The trail is shorter on the lake's north side, but it serves the Tempe Town Lake Marina and provides a critical connection to the Indian Bend Wash Path at its eastern end. Trail users can extend their trip by taking that trail north all the way into downtown Scottsdale.
A bicycle and pedestrian bridge links the two paths over Tempe Town Lake. At the bridge's southern end, the trailside Tempe Center for the Arts offers a variety of exhibits and events in a critically praised building.
Parking and restrooms for the Rio Salado Paths are available at Tempe Beach Park (54 W. Rio Salado Parkway) in Tempe and Riverview Park (2100 W. Rio Salado Parkway) in Mesa.
Rode the trail this morning. I started at Rio Salado on the south side at 15th Ave. Was able to ride all the way to Dobson Rd. McClintock Rd was the only place where I was required to cross a road. If you are looking for an east-west, Phoenix to Mesa connector this is a good one.
This section is a wide paved section. I was only on the south side. I didn't ride the north side of the lake this morning. There are plenty of places to pull off and rest. Or even ride off the trail to a store or restaurant.
First, the map shows the east end at Alma School Rd. The east end is at Dobson Rd. I was there 2 wks ago.
The trail is paved from Dobson to the 143. There is usually some water in the river east of Tempe Town Lake. You can get on/off at Riverview Park in Mesa, Tempe Marketplace, Tempe Town Lake and all the major streets you cross.
It looks like they are going to extend the trail from the 143 to about 32nd St. If they do it will be awesome to be able to ride from 19th Ave in Phoenix to Dobson Rd in Mesa.
I was very excited to see the extension of this path to Riverview as it is near a flooded section of the Salt River, so today I walked from Tempe Marketplace to just past the last freeway overhead in Mesa.
Where I walked there was shade from the highway interchanges above, but most of the path is not shaded, so is only usable on cooler days/months and by bicycles. Walking the path with the intent of birding was not very rewarding. True, we did see a couple of Osprey's diving for fish, but the amount of trash and distance from the water itself was truly disheartening.
I hope this is just the beginning of what this pathway can become and will look forward to well advertised opportunities to at least clean up the areas below the walkway and perhaps to help in planting more native vegetation where possible.
Most of the Phoenix's bike paths fall into one of three categories
1) pathway right next to a busy road
2) follow a not too particularly scenic canal for miles on end
3) cycle along barren open desert for miles
This one is different; Tempe town lake and it's pedestrian/cycle bridge is separated from traffic, actually scenic, and a more engaging ride than anywhere else in town.
This trail links to "Indian Bend Wash" which is also exceptional (comparatively) as it follows miles of golf-course and green parks. All in all, the best route in the Phoenix area in my opinion.
4/5 stars because it still dulls in comparison to the more notable trails in the American Southwest.
Good trail takes you to the heart of Tempe, mill st. Fun and easy ride
The map needs to be updated. This trail extends from Priest Rd to McClintock Rd at Tempe Market Place. Very easy smooth trail. At Rural there is a bicycle and jogging path across the bridge going north. From there take the trail back west along Tempe Town Lake to Priest on the north side of the lake.
This is a beautiful level ride with acess to several parks. Great for families with children, especially beginners. There are many places to stop and rest, and parks for kids to play. This also is a beginning point to park and ride up the Indian Bend Wash Trail or ride to Papago Park and up the Arizona Canal for longer rides and families with older kids.
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