Sunday, November 7, 2010

Riding the Soft Path Along Skunk Creek

Smooth rolling beside Skunk Creek. Last time I was at this spot, I saw a ferruginous hawk soaring overhead.

Saturday I got a little carried away. As in, I started riding, everything felt good, with a slight wind at my back, so I just kept riding and riding. In this case, I was going northwest along the Arizona Canal, then the Arizona Canal Diversion Channel (ACDC), then Skunk Creek, then New River. After I got going, I kind of thought I would stop after riding along Skunk Creek a little ways, which I have done before, but it's been a while since I've been up that way, and the path has been much improved since then. 

Once I rode along this route a little while, I had to keep going to see what it was like up ahead. This path used to be OK, expansion-jointed cement I think, which ran out into a gravel kind of informal trail that you could ride to get to 83rd Avenue if you felt really motivated to get there for some reason, but the majority of the time I would just turn around. Today I found that they have significantly improved the Skunk Creek path, in the photo above, and that it keeps going and joins up with a trail along New River (up ahead in the photo, around the bend).   

Skunk Creek, this dry waterway, converges with New River just up ahead, along this awesome path.

I kept riding and riding. The weather was perfect, and in this area, unlike many others I ride, there was some recognition that path users may need the occasional rest stop, cool-down in the shade, and water fill-up, so the water bottle was always pretty full along this route.

Ped/bicycle bridge by Rio Vista Park, crossing the confluence of Skunk Creek and New River

Water fountain right behind me, impressive bridge spanning a dry river bed for conveying people from a neighborhood to a park. The park was packed on this sunny Saturday with parents, kids, and dogs, all having a great time. The park is cradled in a bend of the 101 Agua Fria freeway. It has sports fields and a lovely pond. Now that I look at it on the map, I really want to go back and ask all those people that were in the park how they got there--did they walk across the bridge, or drive there, or cycle, or what? The map made me wonder that because the park is very oddly situated: not one actual residential area borders it directly. It is a park-island, bordered by the 101 Freeway, New River, and what looks like some kind of commercial buildings to the south. 

When I was a kid, there were at least three parks I could walk to from my house, in the small town where I lived, where there were trees, play equipment, picnic areas, and big swaths of open grass for playing football, or whatever. Even more if I rode my bike, which I did sometimes to meet friends. Man, I guess I didn't realize how good that was until now. That was a casual, unstructured, "Hey mom, I'm going to the park," type of activity. Autonomous, spontaneous behavior by a 12 year-old. "Be home by dinner," was the expected reply.  And I was able to achieve all that with no cell phone, and no text messages! Incredible.

Rio Vista looks like an excellent park. I do not think any of the children arrived there due to autonomous, spontaneous behavior, though. Maybe I'm wrong. I kind of hope so. I kind of hope at least a few of them just yelled an update to mom as they went out the door, and rolled their scooters across that bridge. Anything is possible, I suppose.

That's a Sun Circle Trail map sign sighting right there, by the way. Cool! It's becoming circular!

Rolling over a temporary plywood bridge with Bip's slightly knobby tires made a crazy buzzing sound.

Just look at that sign: restrooms, water, and shade ahead. If you started at this end, you might leap to the conclusion that this is a common occurrence along the canal. You would be wrong, at least for now. If you ride turn around and ride the other direction, it's about 22 miles to the next trailside water, restroom and shade stop. (check out my photo, here, of the one way out in Scottsdale). These are excellent facilities, thank you Glendale Parks and Recreation.

This was a fun ride, more than 40 miles total. Great trip. I did it on Bip, with the slightly knobby tires, which was not the best planning on my part. Next time, I'll use smooth tires and a bike with a setup more appropriate to a ride of that distance, for sure. Get up. Go ride.



  1. The BIKE trail is 22 miles long?

  2. So, we find mention of the Mythical Sun Circle Trail on a day OTHER than April Fools...

  3. limom, it's actually a lot longer than that if you add the connecting paths. Some of that specific 22 miles is dirt, though. The majority of the ride in this post is paved. I am thinking of a project to map the paved sections of the paths to make discussions like this clearer and route planning esaier.

    Steve, yes! It's looking more and more circular. Not sure what the current claimed total mileage is at, though. That's a little hard to pin down still...

  4. Looks like a lot of fun! Great to have such a long trail, with some facilities, even if they are far apart.

  5. Looks like a very nice trail and fun to ride. I live in San Antonio, Tx, and ride the Salado Creek South Greenway or the Mission Reach Trail which passes by all the Spanish missions along the San Antonio River.

    1. Thanks for the comment and the trail tip, whenever I happen through San Antonio next, I will check it out!


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