Arizona Trail Remains Closed at Southern Terminus

Backpacking Routes (February 23, 2021) by Hugh Owen

Seven months after the southernmost mile of the Arizona Trail (AZT) was closed because of border wall construction, open trenches, unstable soil from blasting, and abandoned construction areas continue to make the trail unsafe for hikers.

The AZT (also the Yaqui Ridge Trail) from the Joe’s Canyon Trail junction south to Border Monument 102 at the US-Mexican border was closed by the National Park Service in July 2020 because of border wall construction.

Despite a halt in construction after President Joe Biden ordered a 60-day pause of all border wall work for a federal review, the NPS has kept the trail section closed because of safety concerns.

The Arizona Trail Association recommends that hikers heading northbound on the 800-mile-long National Scenic Trail start at the Coronado National Memorial Visitor Center and hike the Joe’s Canyon Trail west to the AZT, then head north. Hikers can also start at the Montezuma Pass trailhead on Forest Road 61, 1.9 miles north of the Mexican border.

Thru-hikers who want to start their 800-mile trek at the international border could navigate forest roads to the west of Montezuma Pass that lead to Border Monument 103, and then return by forest roads to the AZT north of the closure, the association said.

The association asks that hikers avoid the closed section of trail until the area is cleaned up and the trail can be safely reopened.

“The Arizona Trail Association has worked tirelessly since last summer to oppose border wall construction at this previously undisturbed location. The southern terminus is among the most significant locations along the entire AZT, and is where thru-hikers begin their 800-mile journey each spring,” says Matthew J. Nelson, Executive Director of the Arizona Trail Association. “The fact that it remains closed is beyond disappointing, but the reasons the National Park Service has provided for maintaining the closure are absolutely valid. That’s why we’re asking thru-hikers to respect the closure and start from an alternate location.”

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