South Mountain’s San Juan to reopen

Nearly two months after a heavy monsoon closed South Mountain roads to cyclists, one of its popular routes will reopen, park rangers said.

San Juan, a six-mile long road that ends at the northwest end of the park, will be open to cyclists starting on Sunday, Oct. 25, said Allyson Pacini, a City of Phoenix park ranger.

The day is one of the park’s Silent Sundays, in which roads are closed to motorized traffic. That day the park will also feature a Global Bikes demo from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

San Juan will remain open to pedestrians and cyclists after Oct. 25 but not to motor vehicles.

The park’s summit road, damaged in the last week of August in the heavy rainfall, requires repair to the substructure, shoulders and asphalt surface before it can be opened to the public, said city spokesman Grett Bach.

No date has been set for the summit road to reopen, and a new gate at the summit road must remain closed while repairs are made, he said.

Officials said although San Juan suffered no damage from the monsoon, the only gate they had to close people off from the summit road was one mile in.

Rangers said the operators of the quarter midget track, a small go-cart-like track for children past the one-mile marker, donated a gate for the summit road so they could access the facility.

But the closing of the summit road still isn’t good business for Jason Boles. The Velo Bike shop owner said it cuts down on weekend store traffic, and the city should find a better solution to the problem.

“This has brought to light that a massive overhaul of how we treat that park and the roads needs to happen,” Boles said. “Find a better solution than shutting it down for seven to eight months out of the year.”

South Mountain, the largest municipal park in the nation, is a common training ground for Phoenix cyclists due to its varying elevation and convenient location.

Pacini said the park managers are working with contractors to open the rest of the roads as soon as possible.

“It was a complete bummer to find out that the road was closed,” said Jesse Hill, who leads group rides up the mountain every month. “I have come up with other routes but none that [is] as exciting as climbing South Mountain on a full moon. The South Mountain rides have been a great turn out gathering 60 to 80 riders.”

Hill said he hopes changes can be made to the road to avoid these kinds of delays in the future. But until the roads open, Hill has found alternatives.

“I still lead group rides every Tuesday and Thursday for Heavy Pedal,” Hill said. “These are more social rides through the city. Otherwise on the weekends there are still plenty of other great destinations to ride to.”

Michael Close