The Barrier Free Nature Trail is a Phoenix oasis that few people know about. This is an easy hike for kids, and even has paved paths for strollers or early walkers!
The trail starts off at a parking lot and meanders for about half a mile. There are some trees and wildlife, and lots of open field. The kids loved zooming on their scooters! (Just keep an eye out for other walkers, some with dogs, and share the trail.) We wondered if this path would turn more scenic and it does!
You’ll find the starting point of the Barrier Free Nature Loop by the introduction sign. It’s just under a mile and wildlife informational signs are posted at various points. We really enjoyed this way to learn more about the desert (even if we didn’t see any).
This is where the trail becomes beautiful and shaded! There are cracks on the pavement, but still very accessible with a stroller. We also visited the day after a heavy rain, and part of the trail was blocked by deep mud. But this shouldn’t be an issue most of the year.
The pond is a great stop for snacks! There’s even a picnic table provided in the shade. We saw many dragonflies and a huge bullfrog. Take your time and explore in this area. Peaceful nature areas like this don’t come easily in Phoenix.
Edited to add: during mid-April to early May the pond is full of tadpoles! So fun for the kids to catch and release. Bring nets and buckets, and boots. We had an absolute blast doing this in 2019 and 2020!
If you’re so inclined, you can continue off the paved trail to walk. We probably would have done this if it wasn’t so muddy. There are apparently 18 miles of paths in this Reach 11 area!! Great for walking, a jogging stroller, or off road bike riding. We will definitely be back.
To access the Barrier Free Nature Trail, you can Google the trail (Barrier Free Nature Trail parking lot) and the directions should be accurate. It’s located on the east side of Tatum Blvd, between Union Hills Road and Mayo Blvd. Parking is limited, but free. There are no restrooms available.
This trail is part of the Reach 11 Recreation Area. But please note, this trail does not start in this area, or near the familiar Arizona Horse Lovers Park. Googling Reach 11 will bring you to the west side of Tatum, with no access to the Barrier Free trail. (We were a little confused about this at first.) Use the directions above to correctly find the trail.
Interested in finding more nature trails in Phoenix? Check out our popular article here, listing 6 great areas to explore with kids!
I love this review on this hiking area. Do you know if the pond stays all summer? And do you know if kids can get their feet wet in it?
Hi Jenny! The pond does stay all summer. I wouldn’t recommend wading with bare feet, but bring boots for exploring for sure!
What directions? I didn’t read any directions on how to get there without using useless Google. Please advise. Thanks!