Maricopa County is finalizing plans for East Valley sections of a proposed regional trail system that would link parks, preserves and recreation areas throughout the Valley.
A planned route from the White Tank Mountains in the West Valley to Lake Pleasant and the county’s Cave Creek Recreation Area has been approved. The second phase is to extend the route across Cave Creek and Scottsdale, then through east Mesa to the Gilbert and Queen Creek areas.
It would pass through the Spur Cross Conservation Area, McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Usery Mountain Recreation Area and San Tan Mountains Regional Park.
The system is to include more than 120 miles of trails in that stretch, said project manager Reed Kempton.
Mountain bikers and equestrians are excited about the plan.
The project will help protect space for horse riders, who have gotten squeezed out of once open lands by urban growth, said Jean Anderson, Cave Creek area resident and a leader of the Arizona Horseman’s Association.
Some cities have made efforts to keep equestrian trails open, "but others have not,’’ Anderson said. "So if the county can get its trail plan in place, everyone would have to be accommodating.’’
The system "would be a great thing for mountain bikers,’’ said Tom Culp, a Mesa resident and member of the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona. It could make the Valley a mountain bikers’ mecca, drawing tourism the way similar trail systems do in Colorado, he said.
Plans to link the regional trail with Scottsdale’s trails could increase the chances for funding, said trails planner Scott Hamilton.
What: Public meeting on Maricopa County regional trail system plan
When: 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 8
Where: Queen Creek Town Hall, 2230 S. Ellsworth Road
Information: (602) 506-1630