Lack Of Rain Dampens National Trails Day Celebration In Payson

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Due to forest closures and soaring Rim country temperatures, the National Trails Day Celebration set for Saturday near Pine has been canceled.

Originally, the festivities were to include outdoor exhibits, a barbecue, horseback rides, Llama trekking, hiking, mountain biking and live music at the trailhead 15 miles north of Payson on Highway 87.

But when Forest Services officials elected to close the forests prior to the Memorial Day weekend, the celebration was all but dead.

Payson Parks and Recreation Director Bill Schwind and Walt Thol of the U.S. Forest Service tried in vain to breath life back into the event by suggesting it be moved to Green Valley Park.

But by midweek, that effort died due to concerns about the searing heat during an outdoor noon-time ceremony.

Also, Schwind said, some members of the Gila Country Trails Alliance had made other weekend plans when the original event was canceled.

With no celebration, the dedication of four new trails will have to be put off until a later date this summer, Schwind said.

The new trailheads that were to be dedicated this weekend, include Chaparral Ranch, Gila County, Graff Road and Peach Orchard.

Chaparral Ranch is just east of Chaparral Pines Golf Course; Gila County is west of the new multi-event center and Graff Road is on the vista west of the airport.

The Peach Orchard trailhead can be found directly across from the Payson Golf Course.

At the dedication, officials were to mark the trailheads with new signs, which are complete with topographical maps.

Those signs, Schwind said, will now go up at a later date.

In Flagstaff, Trails Day celebrations will go on as originally planned, said David Kill of the community's convention and visitors bureau.

Other celebrations are set for Tucson, Patagonia, Oracle, Superior and at Coronado National Monument.

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