A sign at McKenzie Ranch Trails Park southeast of Tucson was uprooted and jabbed into a barrel cactus.

A trail at a recently opened park for mountain bicyclists was “booby-trapped” with two cables affixed across a riding track at chest height in an apparent attempt to cause a fall and injuries, Pima County officials said.

Also, signs were damaged and locks on gates were cut at the county’s McKenzie Ranch Trails Park southeast of Tucson earlier this month, said Steve Anderson, planning division manager for the county.

“Fortunately, nobody was injured,” said Anderson, noting that three cyclists who approached the cables on the afternoon of Oct. 7 were able to stop before striking them.

“We have contacted the Sheriff’s Department, and the department is investigating,” Anderson said.

Sheriff’s officials say the case remains open.

“At this time, the case is still under investigation,” said James Allerton, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman. “If anyone has any information about this, we would urge them to report it to our department.”

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All four gates at the park had their locks cut off, county officials said.

CYCLIST’S ACCOUNT

One of the cyclists who encountered the cables across the trail submitted this report of the incident, said Anderson, who declined to name the cyclist, citing privacy:

“On October 7th, at 2:00 pm myself along with two other cyclists went for a loop on the track. On a downhill section, someone had affixed 2 separate cables across the track. The cables were at chest height. Luckily we were moving slow enough to see the cables prior to collision. Had we not seen them, they could have caused serious injury. The cables were located on the northern side of the trail, near the main road. About 2 miles in. We took the cables down. But there is no saying if it will happen again.”

Anderson said he isn’t certain about what was used to anchor the cables on either side of the trail.

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The top hinges were broken on one of the access gates for the east parking lot at McKenzie Ranch Trails Park.

EXTENSIVE DAMAGE

Anderson detailed the vandalism, beyond the cable threat, at the trails park, which remains open to the public. The park consists of 13.5 miles of trails, including a 10-mile racecourse arranged in two loops.

The damage included:

  • Two large park signs were torn down and placed on the ground at the intersection of Marsh Station Road and Red Hill Ranch Road, and at a spot closer to the park along Red Hill Ranch Road.
  • A large sign at the entrance to the park was damaged by a large rock.
  • A large “park rules” sign and post at the trailhead was torn down and thrown into the desert.
  • A small trailhead sign and post were torn down and stolen.
  • A small “Hohokam Trail” sign was torn down and stuck through a barrel cactus next to the west parking lot.
  • All four gates had their locks cut off.
  • One of the parking lot gates that provides access to the east parking lot had the top hinges of the gate broken.
  • A small bulldozer parked at the site was damaged and a wildlife camera in a tree was stolen.

“We have fixed the hinges on the gate, and we’re putting signs up again before the grand opening of the park on November 3,” Anderson said.

“It will all be repaired before the grand opening.”

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County officials say the vandalism will be repaired before the park’s official grand opening, which is scheduled for Nov. 3.

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A mountain bike trail at the McKenzie Ranch Trails Park southeast of Tucson on Sept. 11, 2018. The Santa Rita Mountains are in the distance.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at dkreutz@tucson.com or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz