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Monday, November 19, 2018

Celebrate & Support the Maricopa Trail

Celebrate & Support the Maricopa Trail
Full Circle.
On Saturday, November 17, 2018, the sweet aroma of singed wood at Cave Creek Regional Park marked the completion of Phase 1 of the Maricopa Trail.  Using a hot branding iron, Former Maricopa County Board Supervisor Andy Kunasek and current Maricopa County Board Supervisor, Steve Chucri brought the nearly two-decade-long effort of building the Valley-circumnavigation route full circle by burning the initials “MT” into a wood panel, exactly as was done at the trail’s 2004 groundbreaking.
Ceremonial final shovelfuls.
American Conservation Experience.
The branding followed a ceremonial tossing of the final shovelfuls of dirt onto the trail and the unveiling of a new informational kiosk at the Overton trailhead where the Maricopa Trail departs the park on its 315-mile journey. Speakers, information booths, guided hikes and the release of two Harris's Hawks rehabilitated by Wild at Heart, a rescue organization for birds of prey, made for a full morning of festivities.
Brian Derrick
Initial plans for the trail were rolled out in 2000. What followed was years of cooperative planning and elbow grease across multiple governmental agencies, businesses, communities and volunteer organizations.
The primary driver was Andy Kunasek, an outdoor enthusiast and former public servant who saw the value in creating a non-motorized  trail that would connect ten county parks to provide recreational opportunities while protecting natural and cultural resources along its route.  
Andy Kunasek
Often referred to as “The Father of the Maricopa Trail”, Kunasek pushed for the financial support, alliances, easements and ongoing partnerships that made the route possible. He is also the founder of the Prickly Pedal mountain bike race which supports the Maricopa Trail + Park Foundation (MT+PF), a nonprofit organization that provides sustainable financial support and volunteer trail maintenance.
Maricopa Trail + Park Foundation
The annual event will take place on January 19, 2019 and will include a grueling 40-mile race on the trail between Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area in Cave Creek and Lake Pleasant Regional Park, a 13-mile Fun Ride tailored to more casual riders and the ever-popular Kids Race where young riders ages 6 to 11 vie for medals and glory.  New this year—for non-bikers-- is an 8k trail run that will feature a rumble through the trail’s rugged beauty and diverse terrain.  But you don’t have to be a rider or runner to show your support for the trail. Spectators can enjoy a day of fun and activities followed by an awards ceremony and post-ride party by the lake with live music, food and beer garden.
Desert beauty on the Maricopa Trail.
Hiking the Maricopa Trail
Hawk release
Although the main big loop is now complete, the Maricopa Trail will continue to evolve and grow with added connectivity to municipal parks, communities and urban centers.  With dozens of trailheads and access points along its route, it’s easy to step out on the trail from just about anywhere in the Valley.  A good place to start is at Cave Creek Regional Park with a moderate
Dedication ceremony
Prickly Pedal Bike Race 2018
trek to the Andy Kunasek at Spear S Ranch Trailhead. 
Scorpion demonstration
This stretch of the trail wanders through a lush and diverse desert landscape in the shadow of Apache Peak. 
Harris's hawks take flight
Running through washes, mesquite forests and foothills lodged between the Tonto National Forest and north Phoenix suburbs, the segment has a remote feel and outstanding vistas.  Hike this section as a 13.2-mile out-and-back or a 6.6-mile one way car shuttle.  As Brian Derrick, MT+PF President said at the dedication ceremony, “One of the best ways you can show support for the trail is to get out and hike on it.”

Full Circle: RJ Cardin, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Director displays the ceremonial brand denoting the completion of Phase 1 of the Maricopa Trail.
Ceremonial Final Shovelfuls: Dignitaries place the final touches on the trail.
American Conservation Experience:
The Flagstaff-based volunteer organization began assisting with Maricopa Trail building and maintenance in 2016.
Brian Derrick: Maricopa Trail + Park Foundation President spoke about the importance of trail maintenance and volunteerism.
Andy Kunasek: The Father of the Maricopa Trail spoke about the history of the trail.
Maricopa Trail + Park Foundation:
Board members, Larry Sneed and Jan Hancock, invite visitors to check out the volunteer trail maintenance trailer provide by REI.
Desert beauty on the Maricopa Trail: View from the trail that runs between Cave Creek Regional Park and Spear S Ranch.
Hiking the Maricopa Trail:
View from the trail that runs between Cave Creek Regional Park and Spear S Ranch.
Hawk release:  Steve Chucri, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman and former Chairman, Andy Kunasek get ready to release rehabilitated Harris's hawks into the park.
Dedication ceremony: RJ Cardin, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Director emceed the event.
Prickly Pedal: Finish line scene from the 2018 race.
Scorpion: An Arizona Game and Fish representative displays a scorpion at the event.
Harris's hawks take flight: Two raptors rehabilitated by Wild at Heart fly into their new home. A silhouette of a Harris's hawk appears in the Maricopa Trail logo.

Maricopa Trail Anthem-Cave Creek-Spur Cross Segment Sampler:
LENGTH: 6.6 miles one-way
RATING: moderate
ELEVATION: 2050' - 2295'
Cave Creek Regional Park Overton Trailhead:
37900 N. Cave Creek Parkway, Cave Creek.
From Carefree Highway in Cave Creek, go north on 32nd Street to the park entry gate.  Follow the main park road to the Overton trailhead at the nature center.  There’s a $7 daily fee per vehicle.
Andy Kunasek at Spear S Ranch Trailhead:
41799 N. New River Road.
From Carefree Highway in Cave Creek, go north 4.5 miles north on 7th Street, (turns into New River Road) to the trailhead on the right just before Linda Lane.

INFO & MAPS: Maricopa Trail

Prickly Pedal Bike Race: January 19, 2019.

Maricopa Trail + Park Foundation

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