Runner's Zone

By local contributor
Kayla Karp

5 scenic jogging routes to keep you fit while you travel

You know the zone – that Zen-like place where your breath and the rhythm of your feet are completely in sync and the miles fly by in a blur. Well, get ready for the Scottsdale zone, where fun jogging routes and incredible scenic views go hand in hand on five fabulous runs.

Discover Downtown

Let the energy of Scottsdale’s vibrant downtown sweep you along this urban route. Start your run in Old Town at Brown Avenue and Main Street in front of “The Yearlings,” a bronze cast of galloping horse. As you head south on Brown, you’ll pass the Old Adobe Mission and Cavalliere’s Blacksmith Shop, which will give you a glimpse into the city’s past. When you reach Second Street, turn right and take another right on Scottsdale Road. As you jog north, you’ll pass trendy new restaurants, colorful shops and long-time landmarks like the Sugar Bowl. Turn left on Camelback Road just past the towering twin cylinders of the Soleri Bridge and head west. To your right is Scottsdale Fashion Square, the Southwest’s largest shopping mall. Take a left at the next light (just before Nordstrom) and head south past the shops and restaurants of the Scottsdale Waterfront. Cross over the Arizona Canal on the Marshall Way Bridge and turn left on Scottsdale’s famous Fifth Avenue, known for its boutiques, bistros and the Bob Parks Horse Fountain. At Scottsdale Road, turn right and enter the home stretch. If you’ve still got some energy when you reach Main Street, turn right for a tour through the Arts District. Otherwise, turn left on Main and you’ll be back to your starting point. Refuel with contemporary Latin cuisine by Chef Matt Carter at The Mission (don’t, under any circumstances, miss the 12-ingredient tableside guacamole – you can thank us later).

Navigate the Peak

If you’re looking to hit the trails and work up a sweat, Pinnacle Peak packs the heat! This wide switchback trail overlooks the vast and beautiful landscape of North Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert. The 3.5-mile track will challenge you with an elevation gain of about 1,300 feet, but the views from the summit will really leave you breathless. After this caliber of workout, you deserve a hearty meal. Look no further than Proof at the nearby Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale. Pick a table on the patio, which overlooks the peak you just conquered, and order up one of their breakfast specialties like the Lemon Ricotta Blue Corn Pancakes, Green Chile Pork Benedict or Torched Maple Pecan Oatmeal.

Test Your Endurance

The Brown’s Mountain Trail in Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve is another track with gorgeous Sonoran Desert views. The wide path packs the perfect amount of incline and balances the climb with plateaus for catching your breath and soaking up the views. From the trailhead, take the Brown’s Ranch Trail north and veer left at the Brown’s Mountain Trail. The gently undulating trail will give way to switchbacks as you head up the mountain to the summit. From the top, you can head back the way you came, or extend your run down the far side and loop back around on the Upper Ranch Trail (be sure to pick up a map at the trailhead). Reward yourself with a trip into nearby Cave Creek where Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbecue will satisfy your hunger with plates of pulled pork, barbeque brisket and even vegetarian “pulled squash.”

Stop and Smell the Roses

Few spots in the city are as lush as Scottsdale Civic Center Park. Bubbling fountains, soft grassy knolls and a colorful rose garden are among the highlights on this route. Start your run in front of the Little Red Schoolhouse at the park’s West entrance. Head east into the park and explore the many pathways that will lead you past sights such as the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, as well as public art installations like Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture. Further to the east you’ll come to Scottsdale Civic Center Library. From there, head south along Drinkwater Boulevard to Scottsdale Stadium, home of the San Francisco Giants during Cactus League Spring Training. Retrace your steps on Drinkwater and back into the park where your post-run dining options include local favorite AZ 88, known for its spacious patio, rotating art collection and sophisticated pub grub.

Run the Greenbelt

The Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt, an award-winning flood control project, winds through 11 miles of parks, lakes and golf courses. You can access the Greenbelt form numerous public parking lots along Hayden Road, then choose a path and direction to start your run. The Greenbelt runs from Shea Boulevard in the north all the way down to Tempe Town Lake in the south and is ideal for joggers and distance runners alike. And if you’d like to add a little resistance training to your run, start at Chaparral Park where a 10-station exercise course encircles the lake. Head for downtown Scottsdale after your run, grab a patio table at Olive & Ivy and enjoy small bites and handcrafted cocktails along the banks of the Arizona Canal.