Earth Day Trail Work in the Santa Ritas

We coordinated two trail work events in Southern Arizona to commemorate Earth Day on Sunday, April 22, and to finish some much needed trail rehabilitation at Enzenberg Canyon in the foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains (AZT Passage 5).

Saturday, April 21, we coordinated with a high school group from the Coronado Youth Corps (CYC) to repair a gate latch and rehab trail tread.

Sunday, April 22, REI Tucson provided 15 volunteers who rehabbed trail tread and widened corridor to allow safe passage for equestrian users and installed approximately 20′ of fencing to close a portion of the trail which had been doubletrack with the intention of letting it recover to singletrack for non-motorized trail users. The trail in this area, west of Highway 83 between Oak Tree Canyon and Kentucky Camp, was affected by the Sawmill Fire of 2017. The grasses burned but left most trees, cactus, yucca, and agave intact.

We met at Box Canyon Trailhead, where the AZT crosses Box Canyon Rd. approximately 0.5 mile north of where Box Canyon leaves the intersection of Greaterville Rd. From there we loaded up in the ATA Ford and Seeds of Stewardship Van with the ATA Tool Trailer “Boojum” in tow to drive up Greaterville Road toward Melendrez Pass to where the AZT leaves the forest road at the top of Enzenberg Canyon.

After safety talks and orientation, Treven Hooker, Southern Arizona Seeds of Stewardship Coordinator, Zach MacDonald, Assistant Trail Director, and Tasha Pontifex, Passage 7 Steward, led the CYC crew to hike approximately 2.1 miles to the bottom of Enzenberg Canyon where the trail crosses the wash and turns to doubletrack again. CYC cleared a large fallen oak from the trail, widened the switchback coming out of the wash, and added two wayfinding cairns on either side of the wash crossing. As we worked back up the canyon CYC brushed encroaching vegetation, widened tread by re-benching into the backslope, installed and/or cleaned out 12 drains, and cleared loose rubble off the trail for approximately 0.7 mile of trail.

With the REI group on Sunday we broke into two groups. Wendy Lotze, ATA Volunteer Coordinator, hiked in with the first group, approximately 1.4 miles to repair trail tread, install drains, and grub out catclaw, working back toward the truck and trailer. Zach MacDonald led a group at the intersection of Melendrez Pass Road and the AZT to install 20′ of fencing and rehab trail tread as an interim measure to reduce vehicular traffic on approximately 0.5 mile of doubletrack. This group then hiked in to meet the other group, installing drains and rehabbing a short user created bypass at the saddle.

In total, we maintained 2.1 miles of trail in Passage 5. We installed 20′ of fencing, replaced a gate latch, debermed and installed 24 drains, widened tread, brushed and grubbed vegetation encroaching into the trail corridor, and removed rubble from the trail tread.