Discover Gilbert 2023 Official Guide

Hit The Trail

Explore Gilbert by boot or by bike

G

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.

Western

Powerline Trail

C

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.

Two cyclists ride along a cement portion of the Western Powerline Trail, past flowering trees and a bridge crossing a canal, in Gilbert, Arizona.
Western Powerline Trail
Gregg Mastorakos
A woman walks along an unpaved segment of Gilbert, Arizona’s Western Powerline Trail, a white picket fence and trees on her right and a passing jogger on the left.
Western Powerline Trail
Gregg Mastorakos
Two horses graze the green grass in a horse property that borders the Western Powerline Trail in Gilbert, Arizona.
Western Powerline Trail
Gregg Mastorakos

San Tan
Vista Trail

R

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.

Climbing vines create an archway over a dirt path at the farm at Agritopia in Gilbert, Arizona.
Agritopia
Mark Lipczynski
Three women carry colorful shopping bags through the covered breezeway at San Tan Village shopping center in Gilbert, Arizona.
SanTan Village shopping center
Elaine Kessler
A small, brown and white burrowing owl rests on the ground, eyes partially closed.
Burrowing owl, Zanjero Park
Courtesy of Discover Gilbert

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.

Maricopa Trail/

Sun Circle Trail

T

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.

Two backpackers hike the Maricopa Trail near Gilbert, Arizona, with saguaro and prickly pear cacti and green desert shrubs around them and a mountain range in the background.
Maricopa Trail
Courtesy of Maricopa County Parks and Recreation
A bridge crosses a desert wash, connecting two dirt portions of the Maricopa Trail outside of Gilbert, Arizona.
Maricopa Trail
Courtesy of Maricopa County Parks and Recreation
A lone mountain bike is tethered to a brown park bench at a resting point along Gilbert, Arizona’s Maricopa Trail.
Maricopa Trail
Matthew Begay

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.

Heritage Trail

L

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.

A leashed German shepherd waits to run a path bordering a canal along Gilbert, Arizona’s Heritage Trail.
Heritage Trail
Leslie Grounds
A cyclist rides a mountain bike between two large boulders as the sun sets behind him in San Tan Mountain Regional Park near Gilbert, Arizona.
San Tan Mountain Regional Park
Jamie Williams
A sunset silhouettes the desert landscape and distant mountains on the San Tan Vista Trail in Gilbert, Arizona.
San Tan Vista Trail
Siobhan Moyan
Discover More

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.

Discover More

Easy Access to More Trails

Base camping at accommodations in Gilbert shortens travel time to two great Arizona attractions: Boyce Thompson Arboretum and the Arizona Trail.

The arboretum, formerly mining tycoon Boyce Thompson’s winter home on Queen Creek, is the largest botanical garden in Arizona and one of the oldest west of the Mississippi River. In this park near the town of Superior, enjoy walking in a beautiful microcosm of collected plants of the Sonoran Desert and Mogollon Rim (pronounce it like a local: MOE-gee-own; hard “g” as in “gun”).

About three miles west of the arboretum is the Picket Post Trailhead, which provides access to the Arizona Trail. Traversing Alamo Canyon to the south and running under US Highway 60 to the north, this portion of the state-long trail runs along the crest of Whitford Canyon before dropping into Reavis Canyon. The trail requires experience, and be sure to bring plenty of water no matter the season.

An empty park bench is surrounded by lush green plants in front of a greenhouse at Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior, Arizona.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum
Boyce Thompson Arboretum
A dirt, switchback trail winds through rugged, tan hills at Boyce Thompson Arboretum near Superior, Arizona.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum
Main Loop Trail