A few years ago cyclists lost access to the Hidden Hills area, (to the west and down from Eagle Ridge in the picture here) even though the street through the area, 145th Way, has a public easement. We were told at the time that the restriction was “temporary” until a fabled connection to Fountain Hills from Hidden Hills was constructed. That connection was supposedly between Hidden Hills (Scottsdale) and Eagle Ridge (Fountain Hills) though that has always seemed vague to me.
Well, today I happened be out on my bike climbing Eagle Ridge, and was shocked to find bulldozers out, busily grading a path for a new road. Turns out that the Adero Canyon development just broke ground here a few weeks ago. It’s been in the planning works for more than 15 years.
Here’s the northwest portion of that development as seen from the top of Eagle Ridge. The Hidden Hills area is just to the left of the picture, and you can see a small paved street that led to trails into the area. I believe this is where the connection to Fountain Hills would start, if there ever is a connection. But the details are vague about this.
A quick visit to Mr. Google and Mr. Bing brought up several articles from the Fountain Hills Times about this development. Here’s a link to one of them. Looks like there’s going to be a mix of single family homes, townhomes, and condos.
Of interest to us road cyclists is whether this means there will be public access to this area, and more importantly, a paved connection between Hidden Hills and Fountain Hills. The article states that in the master plan is public access to hiking trails in the area — access that has been unavailable from Fountain Hills for a long time. Is this access going to be from Eagle Ridge, as shown in the first picture? Will this be a public street? Will it be paved? It would seem so. And will there be a connection to the Hidden Hills area? Will cyclists be allowed? The article doesn’t say definitively, but does talk about the public trails being both “hiking” and “biking” trails.
I did find this briefing from the Scottsdale Transportation Commission from October, 2012 that talks about the plans in this area concerning bikeways and access. More importantly, it came after the easement on 145th Way (aka Hidden Hills) was “temporarily closed” to cyclists, (which happened in February, 2012). So there is some hope.
Why does this matter to us cyclists? Well, currently, there is only one way to get out to Fountain Hills, and that involves riding on Shea Boulevard for a mile or two. Not the safest route in the world (though it’s okay in the early morning on the weekend.) A connection from the Hidden Hills area would be most welcome, as it would mean not having to ride on Shea.
The Scottsdale briefing does mention the extension of a bike path along Shea. That bike path already exists, starting from 132nd St (or 136th St, depending on how you wish to look at it), but it unfortunately ends a half a mile or so up the road, and then you are dumped back onto Shea. The bike path extension would continue the path a ways further, almost to the top of the climb.
This alternative would be most welcome as well, though the Hidden Hills connection would still be preferred by most. No one wants to ride on Shea if there are alternatives.
Questions remain: Is this connection really going to happen through Hidden Hills? (It seems like it.) Will the closing of the “public easement” in Hidden Hills be lifted? (Let’s hope so.) Will the connection to Fountain Hills be to Eagle Ridge, or somewhere further to northeast (like Sun Ridge perhaps)? It doesn’t matter, as long as the access exists.
So, let’s keep our fingers crossed.