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  • Sun Corridor Trail will bring 1,400 miles of outdoor fun

    Dec 12, 2018 | Read More News
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    The Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department has been at the forefront of a plan to create a system of hiking and biking trails that will one day stretch from Las Vegas to Southern Arizona.

    The Sun Corridor Trail Project is a multi-agency effort led by county, city, state and federal entities and non-profit organizations to link some of the most scenic and significant regional trails in the southwestern United States along a burgeoning economic, transportation and tourism corridor.
    Mountain bikers
    Pima County’s portion of the Sun Corridor Trail is a 180-mile long single-track, earthen trail dubbed the Tribute Trail that encircles the city of Tucson. Assembled in the wake of the mass shooting of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and several others in Tucson on Jan. 8, 2011, the Tribute Trail was meant as a way to honor the victims of the shooting. 

    Supporters of Giffords decided instead to create a tribute at the Pima County Courthouse, “but everyone felt that the Tribute Trail was too good of an idea to scrap,” said Steve Anderson, planning division manager for Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation, which has been intimately involved in the trail planning.

    The Tribute Trail was conceived by representatives from the Coronado National Forest, Saguaro National Park, and NRPR. It passes through every jurisdiction in the Tucson metro area, including Tortolita Mountain Park, Catalina State Park, the Coronado National Forest, Saguaro National Park, Colossal Cave Mountain Park, Arizona State Trust Land, the Cienega Creek Natural Preserve, the Arizona Trail, The Santa Cruz River Park and the Central Arizona Project Trail. 

    About 60 percent of the trails that will comprise the Tribute Trail have already been acquired, Anderson said. He and his counterpart in Maricopa County scratched out the concept for the greater Sun Corridor Trail on the back of some cocktail napkins at a 2013 conference.

    The idea was to link Pima County’s Tribute Trail with Maricopa County’s 320-mile Maricopa Trail via the planned Central Arizona Project Trail in Pinal County. That quickly expanded to include large regional loops and long linear trails from Las Vegas to the southern border of Arizona.

    “After a mapping exercise and focused discussion,” Anderson said, “it became apparent that many of the pieces to knit this unique system together were already in place or in the planning stages.”

    The trail begins in a loop around Las Vegas and ends with several linear corridors around the countryside in Cochise, Ariz. When completed, it will consist of regional trail loops around Las Vegas, Kingman, Williams, Flagstaff, Sedona, Prescott, Phoenix, Casa Grande, the Picacho Mountains, and Tucson. Those trails will link with systems in southern Arizona communities such as Benson, Fairbank, Sierra Vista, Tombstone, Sonoita, Patagonia, Naco, Bisbee, Douglas and Pearce. 

    “Linking these communities will showcase the beauty and diversity of the area’s natural resources, and highlight the unique cultural and historical differences found within each region,” Anderson said. “When it’s completed, we’ll be connecting urban, suburban and rural hubs with regional, state and national parks and forests. What could be better?”