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70 Miles of New Trails in the Prescott Basin Area
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23 January 2017   Debbie Maneely

70 Miles of New Trail Approved Through The Greater Prescott Trails

Quick Facts:

70 miles added to trail system in and around Prescott Basin

  • 60 miles non-motorized
  • 10 miles motorized
  • 30 miles rerouted to address natural resource concerns
  • 40 miles of new trail construction
  • 35 miles of old trail removed, mitigated, obliterated and decommissioned
6 trailheads improved and enlarged

2 newly created trailheads

Total trails within immediate area surrounding City of Prescott: 300 miles

PRESCOTT, AZ (January 20, 2017) - On January 19, Sarah Tomsky, District Ranger on the Bradshaw District of the Prescott National Forest signed the final decision for the Greater Prescott Trails Plan, Mid-Term Project #1. This project will add approximately 70 miles of trail to the trail system in and around the Prescott Basin area, 60 non-motorized and 10 motorized. This includes the adoption of approximately 30 miles of unauthorized trails with reroutes to address natural resource concerns; construction of up to 40 miles of new trails; improvement and enlargement of 6 trailheads; and the creation of 2 new trailheads. This addition to the trail system provides over 300 miles of trail within the immediate area surrounding the City of Prescott. This process will also mitigate, obliterate, and decommission approximately 35 miles of unnecessary, unsustainable, and/or duplicate trails. The Prescott National Forest and its partners in this project believe that it will improve the trail system in the Prescott Basin and neighboring areas by providing additional trail opportunities, trail connections, and reasonable access points while reducing trail user conflicts and safety concerns and limiting resource damage from soil erosion.

This proposal is the culmination of years of citizen, user group, and local, State and Federal government collaboration. Starting in 2008, the Prescott National Forest engaged with this diverse group in developing a recreation strategy for Central Arizona that focused efforts on understanding what recreation activities visitors were already enjoying, and where demand was not being met. This group concluded that the Prescott National Forest and its local government partners should focus on building and maintaining sustainable recreation infrastructure. The need for additional trails and trailheads was highlighted by those involved in this process, and community partners worked with the Forest Service to develop sustainable trail proposals for the greater Prescott area. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, meetings were held to gather input from all interested publics through the Greater Prescott Trails Planning process. This project is a direct result of that process.

"It's exciting to continue to build a sustainable trail system with the community and our partners that supports the many different interests of our visitors as well as the economic development of the greater Prescott area. We are lucky to live an area with such an engaged community that wants to be an active part of land management and stewardship,” said Bradshaw District Ranger Sarah Tomsky.

The process began with people identifying areas where trails were desired and/or where resource issues or user conflicts were major concerns. Suggestions for new trail routes, trails re-routes, and new or improved trailheads were mapped, discussed, analyzed by resource specialists, revised, analyzed again, and submitted for public comment.

This mid-term project is not the beginning or the end of the Greater Prescott Trails Planning process. The Forest Service is currently finishing 20 miles of new and redesigned trails authorized through the Greater Prescott Trails Short-term project; trails such as Firewater, Piglet, and Honey Bucket have all been completed this last year. This fall the forest received a grant from the AZ State Parks Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) decal fund for and has received a grant from the AZ State Parks Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) decal funds for $300,000, primarily to analyze authorizing an additional 30 miles of single track motorized trails in the Sevenmile Gulch area near Lynx Lake off Walker Road. This will be Mid-term project #2. Long-term projects include the potential to connect the Black Canyon National Recreation Trail to the Prescott Circle Trail, over 40 miles of trail through the Bradshaw Mountains, thereby connecting the North side of Phoenix to Prescott by single track trail.

Lastly, the Prescott National Forest is engaged in the same way in the Verde Valley and has been working through the Verde Front group, a collaboration of citizens, local governments, and the State and Federal agencies to accomplish similar goals for recreational access through trails. This year the Prescott National Forest plans to complete analysis for connecting the Black Canyon Trail from north of Mayer to the Verde River and establish a system of trails outside of Cottonwood for local residents to enjoy.

Most all of the past, present, and future trail building in the Prescott area has been completed by individual volunteers and many trail user organizations through hard labor and financial support. Now that we have 70 more miles to build and maintain, please consider volunteering your time to help make and keep our trail system the best it can be. To volunteer please contact Tony Papa at tpapa@fs.fed.us or 928-777-2216.

Information on the Greater Prescott Trails Planning can be obtained at https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=48048; for information about the Prescott National Forest recreation opportunities visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/prescott/recreation, or at the Bradshaw Ranger District office, located at 344 S. Cortez St., Prescott AZ, 86303.