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CAP Trails Provide Recreation for Thousands of Outdoor Enthusiasts

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Friday, October 29, 2021   

MARANA, Ariz. -- Trekking across Arizona's stunning desert landscapes is one of the most popular forms of recreation in the state, and the Central Arizona Project (CAP) Trail System provides access for thousands of hikers and cyclists.

The trails are built along portions of the CAP's canal system, and cover dozens of miles, primarily in urban and suburban areas. The trail system is a cooperative effort of the CAP, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the cities and counties along the pathways.

Ryan Johnson, engineering services manager for the Central Arizona Project, said the trails have been in place for many years.

"The trail system was originally envisioned by the Bureau of Reclamation, probably as far back as 1973," Johnson explained. "It's totally for public use. Anyone can use it, of course, and then it intersects and ties in with other trailheads that counties and cities have developed."

Johnson pointed out the system continues to grow. A new CAP trailhead will be dedicated in the Pima County town of Marana Saturday, adding 30-plus miles of maintained pathways to the trail system.

The trails are designed for hiking, jogging, equestrian use, bicycling, and in-line skating on paved portions, but Johnson said motorized vehicles are not allowed. He added because CAP is a public utility, it does not use taxpayer funds, but coordinates with the Bureau of Reclamation and local officials to build and maintain the system.

"I think the most interesting feature about the canal is that it interconnects and ties in with other city and county features, like parks and other bigger trail systems," Johnson remarked. "It is a good thing for the trail, a good thing for the community."

Most of the trails run along portions of CAP's 330-mile long distribution canal network, with completed or planned sections in Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties.

Disclosure: Central Arizona Project contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Environment, and Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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