After many years of planning, environmental studies, fundraising, and collaboration, the ATA is delighted to break ground on our most recent improvement to the AZT – the Alder Ridge Reroute on the Tonto National Forest. This exciting project will eliminate the powerline road between Twin Buttes Trailhead and Oak Spring just west of the town of Pine, Arizona along Passage 25 – Whiterock Mesa. This has long been among the most hated segments of the trail, and is a stark contrast between the scenic singletrack within the Mazatzal Wilderness to the south and the Highline Trail to the east.
The ATA’s Director of Trail Operations has been leading an effort to find a sustainable route across Alder Ridge for many years, which is no small feat considering the rocky volcanic landscape, rich cultural history, and crossing of a major drainage (Rock Creek). But after many days in the field and screen time using mapping software, a trail line was discovered, studied, and eventually approved.
Funded primarily by a Recreational Trails Program grant (paid for by off-highway vehicle gas tax revenues) and administered by Arizona State Parks and Trails, the approximately $105,000 will be used to hire conservation corps members to construct 4.6 miles of trail by hand within federally designated wilderness, and 2.1 miles of trail outside the wilderness boundary using a combination of light machinery and hand tools. If you want a sneak peak of the route, check out our Interactive Map online – look for the red dotted line southwest of Pine.
Weather permitting, the project is intended to be finished before April of 2021 and ready for thru-hikers, day trippers and section hikers to enjoy next spring. We look forward to updating you on progress, and welcoming you to explore the next great segment of the Arizona Trail as soon as it’s open and ready for visitors.
If you’re a member, donor, or business partner of the ATA – thank you! Your support makes projects like this possible.
Webinar Series – Indigenous Perspectives on Public Lands
Did you know that the public lands we enjoy for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, kayaking and all other forms of recreation are on ancestral lands? Although they are now managed by federal agencies like the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, America’s public lands were managed for millennia by Indigenous cultures. All of Arizona is ancestral land, and it’s impossible to spend time on the Arizona Trail without walking or riding in the footsteps of native peoples. Our friends at the Grand Canyon Trust and Grand Staircase Escalante Partners have lined up a series of webinars to educate recreationists, land managers, and public lands advocates about the importance of Indigenous perspectives. The series kicks off on National Public Lands Day (Saturday, September 26) at 5 p.m. MST. Featured speakers will discuss histories of conservation and the importance of elevating Indigenous perspectives in issues of conservation and public lands use and management, and identifying how such management can support tribal preservation. Additional webinars include these topics on recurring Thursdays at 6 p.m.: October 1 – Why is it important to include indigenous perspectives in land use practices and the management of ancestral land/public lands? October 8 – How can Indigenous peoples restore and reconnect traditional land use practices and protection? October 15 – How should one visit with respect on ancestral land? October 22 – What are some solutions or opportunities for incorporating Indigenous thinking into conservation on ancestral land/public lands? Participation in the webinars is free, but advance registration is required. To register, click here. Some Trails Will Reopen on Mt. Lemmon Next Week
The Coronado National Forest announced today that the Bighorn Fire Closure Order will be updated on Monday, September 21 to include the reopening of trails not directly impacted by the Bighorn Fire. Most trails remain in the Santa Catalina Mountains remain closed, including the majority of the Arizona National Scenic Trail between 0.4-mile east of Hutch’s Pool on Passage 11 and Campo Bonita Road on Passage 12.
Connectivity between trails is still severely limited since most of the mountain was impacted by the Bighorn Fire, which scorched a total of 119,978 acres. All areas within the fire perimeter are closed in the interest public safety. And due to the possibility of severe flash floods, all trails on the mountain should be avoided if rain is in the forecast.
The Arizona Trail Association is eager to conduct on-the-ground trail conditions assessments as soon as it’s safe to do so, but the possibility of falling trees, rolling rocks, unstable soils and other dangers prevent staff and volunteers from entering the burn zone. We will be calling on all volunteers to help repair the AZT as soon as it’s safe to do so. Please keep an eye on opportunities through our Volunteer website. Become a fan of Passages 11, 11a and 12 and we will contact you as soon as we are able to conduct volunteer work events again.
For more information, please contact the Coronado National Forest by calling (520) 749-8700 or visit their frequently asked questions web page.
Trail Rule #1
With more people exploring the outdoors than ever before it has become increasingly important to remember the primary rule while recreating on the Arizona Trail – Be Kind. It’s simple, really, and kindness inspires others to return the gesture to others. Please remember that even though you may be looking for some solitude, others just like you are out there looking for the same thing. Use this shared love of the outdoors to recognize the things you have in common with other trail users, not what makes you different. Expect to see others on the trail finding their bliss, whether it’s on foot, mountain bike, or equine. All non-motorized uses are welcome on the AZT, and the more we work together to build a community of like-minded outdoor lovers the stronger we will be all be. One of the often-forgotten Leave No Trace principles is Be Considerate of Other Visitors. Maybe it’s because it’s the seventh of the seven ethics and the human attention span is shorter than it’s ever been, but time on the trail is a great opportunity to practice this. Give it and you’ll receive it. Here are just a few simple things you can do to improve your experiences, and the experiences of others, while on the AZT: Let Nature’s Sounds Prevail Music is what makes the world go ‘round, but time in Nature is a great opportunity to listen to the sound of wind in the trees, the calling of birds, the rattle of rattlesnakes, and the “ding” of a bike bell as a rider is approaching you. Earbuds cut out most of the trail’s sounds and can lead to surprises. External speakers can negatively impact the natural quiet that many trail users are seeking, and can be heard from much farther away than you might think. Instead, save your favorite tunes for the car ride to and from the trailhead. Yield the Trail to Others You may have the “share the trail” triangle memorized, which provides guidance on which user group yields the trail to the other. Mountain bikers yield to hikers and both yield to equestrians (and generally speaking, downhill traffic yields to uphill traffic since they’re working harder on the uphill grind). But try this…yield the trail to whomever you encounter. It’s a simple act of kindness and will likely encourage others to do the same. Summit Hut is a proud supporter of the Arizona Trail Association. As southern Arizona’s renowned local outdoor retailer specializing in hiking, camping and backpacking gear for more than 50 years, the mission of the Summit Hut is to provide outstanding specialty outdoor products and services for customers in a manner of superior value, service, and merit. Summit Hut has supported dozens of Arizona Trail events and thousands of Arizona Trail hikers, and are the local experts when it comes to outfitting your next adventure. Summit Hut provides a discount coupon for ATA members when you join or renew. Summit Hut is a Legacy Partner of the Arizona Trail Association. Please support the local businesses that support the ATA.