What does it take to build a new hiking trail?
Perhaps you wondered about that when you first stepped foot on Fountain Hills’ newest hiking experience on the Ridgeline Trail at the Adero Canyon Trailhead.
In this case, it took a group of about 45 all-volunteer trail builders two seasons of seven months each to clip away the brush, dig up and move heavy rocks, and chip away at difficult areas to ensure hiker safety. And before you think, “Ah, the energy of youth!”, the average age of this group is 60 years old, with some already above 80!
Bill Craig is a board director for the Sonoran Conservancy of Fountain Hills and leads the Trailblazers group. The trail building process begins with him designing a trail on paper and in the field. Then he obtains approval from Town Council since the trail is in the Fountain Hills Preserve.
“When it comes to trail building, there are three things that make it a difficult job,” says Bill. “Sometimes we have to work through a rock outcropping and that requires a lot of pick work. Other times we have to figure out how to build across a wash in a way that keeps the trail as safe and sustainable as possible. And then there are the areas where we must build horizontally across a steep vertical rise in the terrain, such as we encountered in some places on the Ridgeline Trail.”
But the Trailblazers worked through all these challenges and the result is an out-and-back trail that totals about 4.18 miles. Following the ridgeline of the hill gives it a sawtooth profile and provides a decent workout with an overall elevation gain of 870 feet.
“My favorite thing about this trail is the views,“ says Bill. “As the trail wanders along the ridge, it occasionally dips toward Adero Canyon to the south, then toward SunRidge Canyon to the north. It culminates at a peak that overlooks all of Fountain Hills and Four Peaks, the Mazatzals, and the Superstitions.”
For more information about the Trailblazers and the Ridgeline Trail, visit scfh.org.