A $5,000 grant to help pay for an equestrian trail represents a small step toward Queen Creek’s goal of building a 143-mile multi-use network that will one day criss-cross the town.
However, there is still a long way to go.
Troy White, parks planning and development manager, said progress on the town’s trail system, which will cost between $4 million and $5 million, has slowed after a drop in housing and commercial construction.Town officials typically seek easement through new developments, which adds more length to the trails.
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Another factor slowing progress is the housing market nose-dive.
“When a new house sells, a certain portion of it goes to the parks and recreation department to help build parks and the trail system,” White said.
“There’s not too many new houses being built,” he added.
The Arizona Horse Lovers Foundation awarded the $5,000 grant to help pay for a new horse-riding path connecting a major riding trail to Desert Mountain Park at the southeast corner of Ocotillo and Hawes roads.
“That’s a huge contribution for us,” White said.
Queen Creek spokeswoman Marnie Schubert described the path, which will be built between March and December, as being similar to an offramp, allowing riders and their bridled buddies to safely cross from the Queen Creek Wash multi-use trail to the park grounds.
The Queen Creek Wash trail is part of the evolving network of paths through the town, which officials started establishing in the early 1990s.
The network will take up to 15 years to create, White said. So far, the town’s invested between $400,000 and $500,000 into the project.
According to a recent town study, trails and paths are the most desired recreational amenity among residents.
“We’re a very young community,” Schubert said. “People are interested in being able to get out, spend quality time with their family (and) enjoy the outdoors.”
The Queen Creek Wash trail starts on the northeast part of town near Power and Queen Creek roads. It stretches southeast to Ironwood Drive, between Ocotillo and Combs Road.
Another portion — the Sonoqui Wash trail — starts on the west side of town near Recker Road and Ocotillo and reaches the San Tan Mountains
Both trails reach beyond Queen Creek’s borders into Gilbert and are part of Maricopa County’s regional trail system.