A private landowner has installed a locked gate blocking vehicle access to a popular southwest-side trailhead - but hikers will be allowed to walk along the roadside to reach the trail.
The 0.4-mile road was closed in response to vandalism and illegal dumping, said a spokesman for the landowner - the Catalina Council of the Boy Scouts.
But some hikers have complained about the vehicle closure, saying it adds 0.8 of a mile of walking, round trip, along a shadeless dirt road to reach the Cat Mountain Trailhead.
"It's private property, and the road needed to be closed to stop the vandalism and littering," said Ken Tucker, Scout executive for the council.
"But we're fine with hikers and dog walkers going in" along the road, which runs east from Sarasota Boulevard northeast of Kinney Road, Tucker said. "We're trying to be good neighbors here."
The council has negotiated an agreement with Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation that allows the county to develop a walking trail providing access to the trailhead, Tucker said.
Some hikers, including Sarah Vetault, would prefer to have the road reopened to vehicles.
"Walking along the road will be hotter than a trail," Vetault said. "People will be going along a dirt road with a housing project on the side. It's not a hike."
Hikers have an alternative route to reach the Cat Mountain Trailhead, said Steve Anderson, a spokesman for the county.
"We've got an existing paved trailhead at the end of Sarasota Road," Anderson said. "That Sarasota Trailhead is actually bigger than the old trailhead (at the end of the closed road), so they will have more room."
Vetault acknowledged that hikers can reach the Cat Mountain Trailhead along a broad, open passage from the Sarasota Trailhead.
"But if you go from the Sarasota Trailhead, you're in the sun longer and you go through drainages with not very secure footing," she said. "I'm not going to use the Sarasota Trailhead because it's too much in the sun and too much up and down."
Using that trailhead, Vetault said, also would pose a difficulty for elderly or less-agile hikers who benefited from driving directly to the Cat Mountain Trailhead before the closure.
Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at email@example.com or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz