For Tim Hankins of Scottsdale, chasing aggressive hiking goals is a life priority. His plans for 2020 include hiking the entire 317-mile Maricopa Trail, along with some other impressive milestones. “I’m currently working on summiting the highest point in each state [he’s completed 42] and finishing a half-marathon in each state [he’s done 14],” Hankins says. “The Maricopa Trail occupies my local free time and keeps me in shape.”
The main loop portion of the trail passes through and around U.S. National Forest land, suburbs, urban centers, major travel corridors, lakes, canals and all 10 Maricopa County regional parks. It’s a unique sampling of the Valley’s diverse landscape. The route is organized into 20 segments with numerous trailheads and walk-in access points. Chances are, if you live in the Valley, you’re not too far from the Maricopa Trail.
Online maps and recently installed map kiosks with scannable QR codes that display detailed maps and trail information on smartphones make navigating and exploring the route easy and informative. “The maps are great for figuring out how far you want to hike a particular area,” says Hankins, a warehouse shop manager who usually treks the route with his girlfriend, Misty, and dog, Kuba. “I then compare them to Google Maps for parking, food and water availability, etc.”
Although the primary course of the trail is complete, plans are in the works to expand its length and connectivity. Phase 2 of the project, due in three to five years, will tether the Maricopa Trail with the planned 70,000-acre Vulture Mountains Recreation Area in Wickenburg. The trail is a huge accomplishment that few communities across the country can match.
If You Go
Maricopa County Parks and Recreation
For volunteer and support information through the Maricopa Trail + Park Foundation, visit mctpf.org.