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Maricopa regional trails system offers miles of trails

By Dawna Taylor, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department


Maricopa County is home to one of the largest regional park system in the United States. Ten parks in the system circle the Phoenix metropolitan area, preserving approximately 120,000 acres.

For many Maricopa County residents, the cooler temperatures bring about a desire to get outside and reconnect with nature. This year, outdoor enthusiasts have access to 153-miles of new trails sprinkled throughout the Valley to recreate on. The trails are part of the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Departments Maricopa Regional Trail System.

According to original trail commission member, Maricopa County Board of Supervisor Andy Kunasek, District 3, the Board of Supervisors adopted the Maricopa Regional Trail System in 2004. The goal of the project was to design and build a regional trail system that would connect the existing nine county parks with a shared use, non-motorized trail system while protecting the natural and cultural resources from development.

photo cactus and desert mountains

Desert mountain views from Mule Deer Trail

Supporting the trail system was a natural step in the County's regional planning process as it meets the land use, transportation, environmental and economic development goals outlined in the Maricopa County 2020, "Eye to the Future Comprehensive Plan."

In addition, the Board also believed it was important to have a trail system available for community members to access from their neighborhoods.

“Some people may not be able to afford the gas to go to a regional park, especially given the current state of the economy, so now they can enjoy a trail nearby,” added Maricopa County Supervisor Chairman Max W. Wilson, District 4. To construct the regional trail system, the department is capitalizing on existing right-of-ways, such as canals, parks, utility corridors and flood control projects.

“The department has done an exceptional job working with the federal, state, cities and towns to secure easements and develop joint use agreements for the project,” said Kunasek.

In December 2006, crews broke ground on the first segment of the 114-segment trail system in Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area and an additional 51-miles of trail is currently awaiting development. Once completed, the Maricopa Regional Trail System will encompass approximately 1,521 miles of trails.

Photo of culvert with trail under road

Bell Grand trail underpass in Maricopa County

Funding for the regional trail system has been made possible through federal and state grants and general fund money. The department has also set-up the Maricopa Trail+Park Foundation to allow for tax deductable donations. In 2008, Pulte Homes at Anthem donated over $900,000 in stipulated payments and interest to purchase the right-of-way necessary for two trail segments from the Arizona State Trust Land Department.

“While the Foundations Board of Directors actively pursues funding opportunities for the trail, we have also asked the department to continue seeking grant funding and to check on the possibility of stimulus money,” said Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, District 4. .

For more information contact Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department at (602) 506-2930 or visit www.maricopa.gov/parks

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