Map It Out
Plot out your route on this interactive map of Gilbert’s Central Trail System. Gilbert trails are also marked on mobile and browser apps Gaia GPS, MapMyRide, AllTrails, and TrailLink.
ood morning! Passing on your left!” An old-time bicycle bell zinged.
The cheery voice behind is followed by a fast-moving road bike on the paved portion of the San Tan Vista Trail as it passes the edge of the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. The cyclist carefully weaves through two joggers and a man walking a pair of dogs.
Everyone waves or answers the “good morning” in kind.
It is a perfect Gilbert trail day. In this town, there are hundreds of those trail days every year. Gilbert holds a broad network of locally and regionally connected trails—known as the Central Trail System—that welcome the most dedicated runners, walkers, and cyclists of all skill and experience levels. While most of Gilbert’s trails provide a smooth, flat journey, this is still desert, so remember to bring plenty of water no matter the time of year. Also be sure to practice social distancing so all trail users have plenty of room to enjoy an outing on the trails.
Gilbert is an East Valley hub, with trails meandering into Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, and Queen Creek. It sits as the center point, and its trails also branch into the nearby wildernesses of central Arizona. On any given day, diners in the Heritage District are joined by excursionists diverting from the trails for rest and refreshment on restaurant patios.
The trails host a mix of users. A group of cyclists zip their way down the paved portion of the Western Powerline Trail. A couple sprints and pauses, racing each other in the softer gravel along the side of the San Tan Vista Trail. She takes off and leaves him standing, hands on hips, laughing in her dust as she follows the trail along the eastern edge of the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch.
utting a near-straight path across the northern portion of Gilbert, the Western Powerline Trail follows a powerline and the Western Canal from Tempe to Mesa and through the heart of Gilbert and the Heritage District. From there, it continues straight on to the eastern border of the city.
Plenty of parks along the route, from the larger Freestone Park and Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, to the smaller McQueen Park on the west and Cactus Yards on the east, provide great starting, resting, or ending points. Pack a picnic—or pick up some eats to go in the Heritage District—to create a perfect family day out.
unning the majority of the north-south length of Gilbert and hugging the Eastern Canal, the San Tan Vista Trail connects Gilbert to trails in Queen Creek, Chandler, and Mesa. It’s also an easy walk to the trail from many of Gilbert’s hotels and the shops and restaurants of the SanTan Village shopping center.
At Crossroads Park, venture about a mile from the trail to enjoy the amenities of Agritopia. A number of local restaurants offer delicious, fresh-from-the-farm meals. Dog walkers also love the easy access the San Tan Vista Trail provides to the dog park at Crossroads Park. Continue south along the trail for a chance to see Zanjero Park and its burrowing owls habitat.
he Maricopa Trail is a 300-plus-mile trail encircling all of Greater Phoenix. The smaller 96-mile Sun Circle Trail follows the Maricopa Trail along the south while its northern route traverses across the center of metropolitan Phoenix. From the Usery Mountains it heads west through Scottsdale, Phoenix, and Peoria before circling down to Estrella Mountain Regional Park to return east.
Gilbert holds segments of both trails. The Sun Circle Trail follows Gilbert’s Western Powerline Trail from the town’s western border and through the heart of the Heritage District. At Freestone Park, trail users can choose to stay on the Sun Circle Trail as it heads north into Mesa, or they can turn south to follow the Maricopa Trail to Chandler.
ooking for a challenge? From Freestone Park, Gilbert’s southern route of the Maricopa Trail follows the Heritage Trail to San Tan Mountain Regional Park. This 22-mile route travels into Chandler before jogging east back into Gilbert, then south to the park.
The trail runs along Queen Creek and in the Sonoqui Wash. It winds its way down some rural streets and connects with the mountain bike trails in San Tan Mountain Regional Park. Bikes can be locked and the trails hiked to make a mixed exercise day out of it.