Legacy Award: The Sonoran Trailblazers

The Sonoran Trailblazers, 2018 Legacy Award Winners

The Sonoran Trailblazers has been named recipient of the Lower Verde Valley Hall of Fame’s Legacy Award.The Trailblazers, under the leadership of Bill Craig, is a group of volunteers who have built every foot of the Fountain Hills hiking and biking trails using picks and shovels. There are eight miles of trails in the Fountain Hills Sonoran Preserve, plus trails in the Fountain Hills Botanical Garden and the Lake Overlook Trail, totaling 11 miles. The volunteers also maintain the trails.The Andrews-Kinsey Trail, a recently completed trail in the preserve, which spans an area in Fountain Hills and Scottsdale, was built by people in both communities. The Scottsdale portion of the trail was completed using machinery at a cost of $90,000. The Fountain Hills side was all done by volunteers at no cost.

The Town of Fountain Hills pays for the Trailblazers’ tools, but other nominal expenses are borne by the group.The trails in the Preserve are used by hikers from all over the Valley. Craig said there are trail counters located in the Preserve to determine the number of people using the trails.“We don’t have an exact count, but for instance, we have had 200 hikers per day on the Lake Overlook Trail since the first of January [2018],” he said. In addition to building and maintaining the trails, the Trailblazers have developed a trail map for the Preserve, as well as all the signage on the trails.

A group of volunteers, averaging about 17 people per week, meet each Saturday to do the work throughout the Preserve, according to Craig.“We traipse a little farther each week to finish and maintain the trails,” he said. Volunteers range in age from 30 to 85. There is a father and son team, two married couples and two brothers among the group. Craig currently is working with a young man who is working on his Eagle Scout badge who is doing maintenance on the Lake Overlook Trail.

“We are all real pleased with what we are doing,” Craig said. “I think the best part of all of it is the camaraderie.” He said much of the work is done by older retired people in their 60s and 70s. “We welcome all ages, and we will be happy to train newcomers,” Craig said.Craig said he also helps build trails in Pine, Ariz., in the summer. “It is really great to know you have done something that will last for many years,” he said. “We are very appreciative that people use the Preserve and enjoy the outdoors.”

Craig said he worked closely with Roy Kinsey before Kinsey and his wife, Bev, moved out of the community. “They were very instrumental in all of the improvements in the Preserve,” Craig said. Craig will receive the Legacy Award on behalf of the Sonoran Trailblazers at the Lower Verde Valley Hall of Fame awards dinner, set for March 28.

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