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Posted Sep 17, 2012, 12:02 pm
Pima County is planning a new recreational trail—open to hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders—along the Central Arizona Project canal west of Tucson.
The 42-mile long trail on the embankment of the canal will connect to a dozen other trails west of the Tucson Mountains, including trails from Tortolita Mountain and Tucson Mountain parks, Ironwood Forest National Monument and the western districts of Saguaro National Park.
The trail will generally be on the east side of the canal, which will be fenced off from those using the pathway.
The trail will follow the CAP canal from the Pinal County line just east of Interstate 10, heading south around the Saguaro National Park's Tucson Mountain District and ending near West Valencia Road, according to a press release from Pima County's Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department. A detailed map is available on the county website.
Trail development will cost millions of dollars, but the exact amount remains undetermined, said county planner Greg Hagen.
Trail building will take years, Hagen said. In addition to creating a trail along the berm of the canal, signage must be installed and access facilities put in place, he said.
“That’s the best place we could ever want the CAP trail. The berm gives the trail user a terrific view of the entire countryside,” said Steve Anderson, planning division manager for county Parks and Recreation, in the news release.
The Central Arizona Water Conservation District, which operates the canal, agreed to put the trail on the berm, in what Anderson called a "terrific victory."
The trail has been planned since the mid-1980s, and an recreational development agreement was signed in 1986 with the federal Bureau of Reclamation, the canal's developer.
The 42-mile Pima County is part of a larger plan to build a 336-mile trail that runs along the canal from Lake Havasu, on the border of California and Arizona to Tucson. Phoenix and Scottsdale have already developed trail systems along the CAP canal, and Pinal County added the proposed trail to its Trails and Open Space Master Plan.
Anza National Historic Trail and Arizona National Scenic Trial are already a part of the county’s regional trail system. The canal trail will be the county's third Trail of National Significance—one nationally recognized for historic, scenic or recreational value, according to the county press release.