Maricopa County celebrated a Maricopa Trail milestone and Take A Hike Day with free entry to regional parks November 17.
“Phase 1 of the Maricopa Trail is now complete. This is a huge achievement for our Parks Department and a cause worthy of celebration for our residents,” said Steve Chucri, District 2, Chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. “This investment in a 315-mile trail links all of our regional parks, connects us to nature and connects us to one another.”
Construction started more than ten years ago.
"So many people said it couldn’t be done, and it might not ever be finished. I always knew it could and it should," said former Maricopa County Board of Supervisor Andy Kunasek, who played a key role in creating Maricopa Trail.
“I’m proud of the vision it took to create the Maricopa Trail, the partnerships that have allowed that vision to move forward, and the diligent, skilled work that has made that vision a reality,” said Supervisor Bill Gates, District 3. “Open space is one of the most valuable assets we have in Maricopa County and I think it’s fitting that we celebrate this milestone on National Take A Hike Day.”
Partnerships with agencies such as Tonto National Forest, the Bureau of Land Management, local cities, towns and county departments have helped to reduce construction costs and accelerate the completion time by utilizing existing trail segments, right-of-ways, canals, parks, utility corridors, and flood control projects.
"In the future, we want to work to connect the Hassayampa River Preserve and Vulture Mountain Regional Park, when that is open, so we are not done. But we are at a point where we can claim that a major milestone has been reached," said Director of Maricopa County Parks and Recreation R.J. Cardin.
It's a milestone that brings together urban and open space recreation to more than 4 million residents.
"We are able to accommodate them all on this trail with all forms of [exercise]: people running, biking, hiking, and horseback riding, so I think it's a great thing that's going to serve the public and its visitors in Maricopa County forever," said Kunasek.