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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 Trail 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.
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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