Working on an ambitious plan to significantly improve Rim Country trails, the group Volunteer of Outdoor Arizona (VOAZ) has completed an impressive amount of work.
Following is an update of projects completed or still in progress.
Derrick Spur Trail: no longer exists because the trailhead was obliterated with the widening of Highway 260.
Derrick Trail: major repairs including drainage improvements and realignments over the past two years. Work to be completed by the end of the year.
Highline Trail: VOAZ Director Michael Baker has been working with Chesea Muise of the Payson Ranger District and the Arizona Trail Association (ATA) for the past two-and-a-half years to plan extensive work on this trail. The ATA has worked a few miles east starting from the Geronimo Trailhead. VOAZ does not have precise data on what they have accomplished.
Trailheads from the Tonto Fish Hatchery to See Canyon: VOAZ should complete the work by the end of the year or early next year. VOAZ will work between See Canyon and the 260 Trailhead in 2015 and then hope to move on to the Washington Park to Fish Hatchery reach.
Horton Creek Trail: VOAZ has completed major realignments to move the trail off of the worst sections of the old road and will complete erosion control, revegetation and repairs to retained sections this year.
VOAZ will also redo signage in the area and produce maps. The group plans to work with the Payson Ranger District on long-term maintenance and upkeep.
“We have raised the funding for this work from public and private foundations and Arizona State Parks,” said Baker. “We use volunteers, but because much of the work is so difficult and remote, we also rely on paid crew and a contractor. We use trail excavators because there is simply never going to be enough volunteer hours or dollars to do anything near the amount of work needed. We proceed by first completing a careful survey — I have about 20 years experience in trail design. Then we repair those parts where tread and drainage modifications are likely to work and build new alignments.”
Baker said he hopes more Rim Country residents mobilize to help the trail system. “The area is a neglected recreational and economic asset,” said Baker.
VOAZ worked on trails around the state since 1999. Visit the website to learn more about its work. The group has a special page on the Highline Project: http://www.voaz.org/default.aspx.
VOAZ has done extensive training for trail work and provide videos and documents: http://www.voaz.org/showhtml.aspx?page= HTML/training/trail_tng_home.htm.