Will you be participating in AZT in a Day on Saturday, October 12? Don’t miss this historic opportunity to be part of a community of hikers, runners, mountain bikers and equestrians who will collectively complete the entire 800-mile trail in a single day!
Registration is still open for this endeavor, and you can choose from 100 different segments of trail, ranging from 2.1 to 15.6 miles in length. There are still gaps for five different segments that we need your help covering!
Registration is free and open to people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. This year, you have the ability to sustain the AZT by fundraising, so that countless others find their own unique experiences on the Arizona Trail. Your choice to participate in the optional fundraiser supports the Arizona Trail Association and the programs that uphold our mission. Registration for each segment is limited as part of our commitment to minimize impacts to the trail, overcrowding at trailheads, and to respect other trail users. Please sign up today: https://aztrail.org/events/aztinaday-2019/
Last year, we were able to cover almost 95% of the AZT thanks to 800 intrepid participants. This year we're aiming for 100%, and we need your help to do it. Individuals will have 24 hours to complete their section of trail on foot, mountain bike or equine. To make planning easier we have put together the ultimate interactive map online.
ATA Honored with Environmental Excellence Award
More than 650 business leaders, elected officials and their guests gathered together on Saturday, September 21 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in anticipation to hear who the recipients would be for this year’s prestigious Arizona Forward Environmental Excellence Awards, presented by SRP. The Arizona Trail Association was honored with an Award of Distinction for our recent trail bridges project near Washington Park Trailhead.
In an effort to protect important riparian resources and provide safe passage for Arizona Trail users during flood events, the ATA and numerous partners installed four bridges in a remote and scenic region of the Tonto National Forest. Two 40-ft. steel bridges span the East Verde River, and two natural wooden bridges harvested from trees nearby span the waters emerging from Pieper Spring. In addition to the bridges, one mile of historic trail was improved to relocate the AZT from its former alignment along a utility road. The new route through old-growth forest is a highlight along the Highline Passage (#26) of the Arizona Trail.
“The gala was a special evening and we were proud to honor some very important projects,” said Lori Singleton, president and CEO of Arizona Forward. “There were many project nominations related to water this year which shows how focused the Arizona community is on this vital resource.
A list of all the project nominations and a description summary for each can be found on Arizona Forward’s website.
Mother and Son Duo Set Their Sights on the AZT
If you attended Arizona Trail Day in Buffalo Park on September 14, you may have had the opportunity to meet Michelle and Blaine – the amazing mother and son duo planning a thru-hike of the AZT next year. Michelle and Blaine share a love of the AZT, and have seen much of the trail as day hikers. Their thru-hike will be unlike any other in history.
Like many Arizona children whose parents have shared their passion for nature through quality experiences outside, Blaine enjoys outdoor adventures and has dreamed of hiking the entire length of the AZT. But unlike most children, Blaine has been dealing with medical challenges since birth, including Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood – a neurological condition that causes seizures and episodes of temporary paralysis. In order to remain safe, Blaine spends most of his time enjoying the scenery while on Michelle’s back.
Because Blaine is not expected to survive into adulthood, Michelle has decided to make his AZT dreams come true while she is able to carry him and while his health is stable enough to make the 800-mile journey. They plan to begin their northbound thru-hike in March of 2020.
When their mission is accomplished Blaine, whose trail name is Sour Patch, will be the youngest person to have completed the entire AZT; he will be the first person with a life-threatening illness to complete the AZT; and Michelle will be the first to carry a person along the length of the trail. That’s just one reason why her trail name is Iron.
“I realize this cannot happen without the community,” said Michelle. “The hiking community is unlike any other. We rally around each other, we support each other and we uplift one another.”
Michelle and Blaine are actively seeking volunteer trail angels, friends, and fellow thru-hikers to assist with some of the logistics necessary to support their thru-hike.
You can learn more about their endeavor at www.blaineandmeontheazt.com and follow their adventures on Instagram @triumphontrails. You can also read a recent Arizona Republic article about Michelle and Blaine here.
Trail Skills Institute – 2020 Dates Announced
Are you interested in learning more about properly monitoring, maintaining and constructing trails? Are you a steward of the Arizona Trail or are you interested in helping with trail projects? Do you like to get your hands dirty while learning valuable skills at the same time? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then make your reservations today for the upcoming Trail Skills Institute courses!
Our curriculum has been revised for 2020, including new modules and more in-depth treatment of topics. Here’s a sneak peek:
February 22-23 Module 1 – Trail Assessment and Module 2 – Trail Maintenance in a desert setting
March 21-2 Module 3 – Trail Structures
April 18-19 Module 4 – Trail Design and Layout
May 2-3 Module 5 – Trail Construction
June 20-21 Module 1 – Trail Assessment and Module 2 – Trail Maintenance in a mountain setting
September 26-27 Module 1 – Trail Assessment and Module 2 – Trail Maintenance in a grasslands setting
October 17-18 Module 5 – Trail Construction
This innovative training is offered in partnership with Flagline Trails LLC, and teaches valuable skills to volunteers, including those who have been involved in trail projects for many years. Drawing upon thousands of hours on the trail and in the classroom, including some of the most daunting trail projects you can imagine, professional trail builders will inspire, educate, and give you the skills you need to be an effective steward and trail volunteer.
Learn more and register today at the Trail Skills Institute page of our website.
The Arizona Trail Association recently received a generous donation from the Slavic Society of Arizona in support of our Seeds of Stewardship program. Big thanks to Rodo Sofranac, Arizona Trail supporter and author of The Red Tail Tale on the Arizona Trail, for his advocacy in securing this donation.
Since 2012, the ATA has helped inspire the next generation of trail stewards through this innovative outdoor program. Thanks to the leadership of two Youth Outreach & Education Coordinators in Tucson and Flagstaff, the ATA leads small groups of youth from middle schools and high schools into forests, parks, canyons and deserts to experience the Arizona Trail and public lands close to home; integrates existing curriculum into on-the-trail activities; and engages youth in stewardship projects like trail maintenance, trash clean-ups, and invasive species removal.
The program is provided free of charge to schools and individuals, eliminating all barriers to participation. On average, the ATA positively impacts the lives of 2,000 youth annually through Seeds of Stewardship. The program is funded by grants from Tucson Electric Power, Unisource Energy Services, Arizona Community Foundation of Flagstaff, the Slavic Society, the United States Forest Service, and generous donors like you.
If you would like to support the program's mission to provide educational and meaningful outdoor experiences that empower youth to become the next generation of stewards of Arizona’s wild landscapes, donate online here.