You can hike just a few miles on the Arizona National Scenic Trail — or trek its entire length of about 817 miles from Mexico to Utah.
In either case, a comprehensive, richly illustrated new guidebook could enhance your experience.
“Your Complete Guide to the Arizona National Scenic Trail,” by Matthew J. Nelson and the Arizona Trail Association, is packed with trail descriptions, maps, photos and detailed information on backcountry safety, water sources, geology, botany and other topics.
“I wanted it to be as comprehensive as possible but still fit in a backpack,” said Nelson, executive director of the nonprofit association. “It’s meant to be something you can take with you on the trail to help you find your way almost step by step.
“Casual day-hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders — or people who decide to do the whole trail — will have everything they need to get from Mexico to Utah,” Nelson said.
The 388-page book, priced at $25.95, zeroes in on each of the trail’s 43 passages — beginning at the Coronado National Memorial south of Sierra Vista and extending to the Utah border north of the Grand Canyon.
It provides a detailed map, overview and details on each passage, including several near Tucson in Saguaro National Park East and the Catalina and Rincon mountains. Additional information includes directions to trail-access points for the passages and suggested turnaround points for day-hikers.
The book’s 130 color photos give hikers a vivid preview of the trail and its attractions.
“I think the Arizona Trail is important and unique in that it connects all the natural resources throughout the state — from something as beautiful as the Grand Canyon to something as incredible as Saguaro National Park,” Nelson said. “It’s like an artery linking volcanic mountain ranges, vast deserts, canyons and rivers. Traveling it is an opportunity to fall further in love with Arizona.”
Nelson credited a diverse mix of people for their contributions to the guidebook — including trail stewards, the trail director, association board members and seven key contributors. Those contributors created passage maps, compiled photos, and wrote material for sections of the book focusing on botany, geology, safety, water sources, backcountry etiquette, communities along the route and other topics.
The book may be ordered online now at the association’s website, aztrail.org, and will be available soon at retail outlets such as the Summit Hut in Tucson, Nelson said.