Desert Defenders

Mare CzinarMarch 25, 2020
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When you stand on the 4,890-foot high point of the Desert Mountain Trails System, you’re witnessing a miracle of sorts. “Look to the right and you’ll see
3 million people. Look to the left and you’ll see 3 million acres,” says Troy Gillenwater, Desert Mountain community resident and one of the founders of the private North Scottsdale trails.

“It’s a buffer zone between civilization and wilderness,” adds co-founder Bob Borsch.

As subdivisions and golf courses creep up to Arizona forest boundaries, wild areas are being compromised by noise, congestion and dwindling accessibility. Private communities such as Desert Mountain are stepping up to preserve precious corridors of Sonoran Desert.

Inspired by the beauty and potential of the mountainous, 3,000-acre parcel, Gillenwater and Borsch set out to preserve the developer/investor-owned land.

In 2010, Desert Mountain community residents raised $72 million in 72 days to purchase all community assets from the developer, including six golf courses, clubhouses and land adjacent to the Tonto National Forest. All funds came from community members. With ownership in the hands of the Desert Mountain Community Foundation, the land was protected from development. Today, 3,000 acres of the site are zoned as conservation/open space in perpetuity.

The next step was to plan and build a sustainable trail system. Gillenwater and Borsch rallied community residents to step up and donate all the needed funds to build the 20-mile stacked-loop network.

On April 5, the Desperados Trail Scouts, a group of about 200 outdoor enthusiasts, will host its third annual Desert Mountain Hiking Invitational – the one day every year when the trails are open to guests. Several area hiking clubs are invited to participate in a day of fun, networking and hiking to foster a spirit of stewardship and philanthropy within the Valley hiking community.

If You Go
Desert Mountain Trails System