County Supervisor Andy Kunasek has had a vision – a vision of the Maricopa Trail, a trail that circled the county, connecting all of Maricopa’s regional parks and trails. Now, finally, part of that vision is almost in place. On October 16 at 9:30 in the morning, the county will dedicate the Anthem Equestrian Trailhead. This particular segment of the Maricopa Trail, the Anthem Spur Trail, has been part of the planning for Anthem since the beginning. Back in 1995, Del Webb’s (now Pulte’s) master plan for The Villages at Desert Hills included a provision for desert open space with trails for walking, bicycling, running, and horses. In 2000, the Anthem Development Master Plan, approved by the Maricopa County Planning & Development Department, stated “the developer shall grant the County a public (non-vehicular) access easement for the equestrian and multi-use trail system.”
Also, in 2000, the County established the Maricopa County Trail Commission and began to work to develop a Regional Trail System. Four years later, the Board of Supervisors adopted the Maricopa County Regional Trail System Plan.
When completed, the Maricopa Trail, 240 miles long, will be part of a trail system that exceeds 1500 miles. The County has been buying land and securing right-of-way for the Trail. This regional trail system plan gave the County the means to authorize segments of the Maricopa Trail including these northern segments: Segment 15 from I-17 along the southern boundary of Anthem, connecting to Segment 63 (Anthem “Spur Trail”) alignment of Deadman Wash going north across Anthem to the Daisy Mountain Arizona Preserve Initiative (“API”) Land. The Anthem Spur Trail County Easement crosses portions of both Anthem Parkside and Anthem Country Club. The “Anthem Unit 52 Trailhead”, is being built by Pulte/Del Webb as a Development Master Plan stipulation. The Trailhead 2.5 acre site is west of the Northwest Corner of Desert Hills Drive and 7th Avenue, with access off of Desert Hills Drive behind the existing Fire Station building.
Vollmer and Associates, registered landscape architects, designed the trailhead with 10 horse trailer parking spaces and 8 stabilized granite conventional parking spaces. Site amenities include: a stone seating wall with a stone column and memorial plaque, an equestrian water trough and 2 hitching rails, all native indigenous desert plant material and a wooden entry portal gate leading via a 48 inch wide, mineral tread path to the Maricopa Trail. Pulte has added 3 saguaros and 6 crucifixion thorn cactus. The County is holding a ribbon cutting dedication at the site on October 16, at 9:30. They hope to promote a trail ride the following weekend.
Large parts of the trail system are now in place. Within the next 10 years, riders will be able to saddle up and travel the full 1500 miles, circling the county.
To view the plans for the Maricopa Trail, go to the parks web site at http://www.maricopa.gov/parks/MaricopaTrail/default.aspx; there is a map of the trail system and a history.