Phoenix, AZ

Barrier-free trails in Phoenix

Alistair Dominguez

PHOENIX, AZ - People know Phoenix as a destination for all sorts of hiking and exploring. What they might miss is the abundance of barrier-free pathways and walks that encourage everyone to enjoy the city's natural surroundings. Here's a list of some barrier-free hiking spots in Phoenix, where you can enjoy the natural marvels that make the city so special.

1. Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area

2439 S. Central Ave | 602-262-6863

This 600-acre restoration area, located less than two miles south of downtown Phoenix, spans five miles of the Salt River and is home to the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center as well as more than 250 bird species. Stroll or roll down the dry riverbed that runs through the center of Phoenix on paved or hard-packed paths. Birds come in large numbers to these marsh ponds and arching cottonwoods because of the rich flora, making it a birder's heaven. 

2. Boyce Thompson Arboretum

37615 E. Arboretum Way | 520-689-2723

A combination of paved and hard-packed trails, including the recent 1.5-mile route and loops through the Wallace Desert Garden, can be found at the state's oldest and largest botanical park. You can enjoy a well-kept cactus garden, Australian woodland, a riparian environment, as well as herb and rose gardens in a spectacular natural setting at the park. Trail trips with a guide are available for a small cost if you register ahead of time.

3. Japanese Friendship Garden

1125 N. Third Ave. | 602-290-6609

Stroll along the concrete walkways and enjoy the flowing streams, a 12-foot waterfall, a koi pond with over 300 koi fish in it, a tea garden and a tea house at the Japanese Friendship Garden. This serene and lovely environment contains approximately 1,500 tons of hand-picked rock, stone, footbridges, lanterns, and over 50 plant types. The garden is also wheelchair and motorized scooter-friendly and provides wheelchairs on a first-come, first-served basis.

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