The valley extends below the final portion of the Arizona Trail as it wends through Saguaro National Park East.


The 817-mile Arizona Trail - spanning the state from Mexico to Utah - was completed this year, and now federal officials want your thoughts on how to maintain and manage it.

The U.S. Forest Service, lead agency for managing the trail, is holding public workshops next week to gather ideas for improving the long and winding route.

One of the workshops will be held Monday in Tucson - from 6 to 8 p.m. at Desert Sky Middle School, 9850 E. Rankin Loop.

The trail, organized primarily by the Arizona Trail Association, passes through the Catalina Mountains and other sites near Tucson. It was designated as a National Scenic Trail in 2009.

Laura White, Arizona National Scenic Trail administrator for the U.S. Forest Service, said the workshops are designed to identify concerns about the trail and ideas for improving it.

"We've been hearing about such things as water availability and trailhead access - and also how to protect and preserve the trail corridor," White said. "This is really an opportunity for us to hear from the public about their desired future for the trail so we can carry that forward into the comprehensive management plan."

The Forest Service is playing a leading role in managing the trail because about 73 percent of the route traverses national forest land.

Information provided at the workshops will include a description of the planning process and the general condition of the trail.

"I like to tell people the Trail is complete but it will never be finished," White said. "There are many sections that are beautiful and need little more than routine maintenance. Others are very primitive, follow routes that are not easily maintained, or follow jeep trails and other roads. There is still a great need for volunteer support to help make the trail the best it can be."

In addition to the Tucson workshop, others are scheduled for Tuesday in Superior, Wednesday in Payson, and Thursday in Flagstaff.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at or at 573-4192.