Dennis Wilkins, of Gilbert, paddle boards at the lower Salt River in the Tonto National Forest on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. [GetOut file]


Usery Mountain Regional Park offers Progressive Fitness Hikes through the desert on the outskirts of Mesa and Apache Junction. Beginning Jan. 17, the series will feature a new hike every Saturday through Feb. 21. Each trek increases in length and difficulty in order to prepare for the grand finale hike — a 7.5-mile loop around Pass Mountain.

The first hike is approximately 2.5 miles on fairly level terrain, but trails in the series will involve elevation changes, uneven terrain and a moderate pace. Hikers are expected to stay with the group. Participation in the fourth or fifth hike is required to join the Pass Mountain hike.

The park also offers Three Mile Thursday hikes with other fitness-minded hikers (the next is Jan. 8) and a session called Beginning Desert Hiking (Dec. 26 and Jan. 19) for newbies who prefer to tackle trails in solitude. In the latter, park hosts will cover what to carry, what to wear and how to hike safely in the desert on an easy, 1-mile, scenic hike.

Entry to Usery Mountain Regional Park is $6 per vehicle; annual passes are available. The park is at 3939 N. Usery Pass Road in Mesa. For information or a schedule of events, call (480) 984-0032 or visit

San Tan Mountain Regional Park in Queen Creek also hosts a fitness-focused hiking series. Upcoming “Trail Blazers” hikes are scheduled for Dec. 26 and Jan. 9. Both will take hikers 700 feet up to the Goldmine Mountain Summit, a 3-mile trip. San Tan Mountain Regional Park is at 6533 W. Phillips Road. For information, call (480) 655-5554 or visit


You don’t need an ocean to try stand-up paddle boarding in Arizona, but having someone who knows the ropes sure helps. That’s where No Snow Standup Paddleboard Shop comes in.

The northeast Mesa store has cultivated a friendly local community of paddleboarders, and it hosts events, from sunset social paddles to water workouts, several times a week. Whether you’re a first-timer or an old pro, the shop can outfit you with gear, show you how to use it, and give you an excuse to get out on one of the three lakes or two rivers within a 30-minute drive from Mesa.

Call the shop at (480) 807-6787 and ask for Heather to be added to its events mailing list, or check out


Make an ordinary training run more fun with Road Runner Sports. The running store at Tempe Marketplace hosts a 60-minute scavenger run and after-party with giveaways, raffle prizes, music and a beer garden. Simply run to checkpoints near the store to grab raffle tickets for a chance to win gift certificates and running gear.

The Third Thursday Adventure Run is free the third Thursday evening of every month. Register online ahead of time for a chance to buy $1 beer tickets and a GPS-guided map that will help you along the course, or sign up an hour before the race at the store.

For information, call (480) 968-2022 or visit

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