Community collaboration builds Western Gateway trails

Western Gateway trails will be accessed from the Girdner Trailhead north of the Red Rock High School. The trails offer shady riparian forest, stunning views of the Red Rock Wilderness and southern vistas to Jerome and Mingus Mountain.

Western Gateway trails will be accessed from the Girdner Trailhead north of the Red Rock High School. The trails offer shady riparian forest, stunning views of the Red Rock Wilderness and southern vistas to Jerome and Mingus Mountain.

Work has begun on nearly 30 miles of new National Forest trail thanks to collaboration of local and national partners.

The Western Gateway trail project will add to the Red Rock non-motorized trail system, open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.

Western Gateway trails will be accessed from the Girdner Trailhead north of the Red Rock High School. These trails will offer loops and connectors of all challenge levels, within the naturally diverse Dry Creek drainage.

The trails offer shady riparian forest, stunning views of the Red Rock Wilderness and southern vistas to Jerome and Mingus Mountain. Part of the project is to substantially reroute Girdner Trail away from the flood prone stream-side. Trails will also be accessible from the Aerie Trailhead.

Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund (SRRTF) contracted for 12 weeks of youth crew work by the Flagstaff based American Conservation Experience (ACE) beginning January 2019.

Volunteers also help during regularly scheduled trail work days, January through April, 2019. Forest Service (FS) trail supervisor Forrest Saville stated that he is “committed to training and supervision of the contracted and volunteer trail crews to meet FS sustainable trail construction standards.”

Funding for Phase I of this project comes from many sources: a $25,000 grant from the National Forest Foundation, matching funds from Verde Valley Cyclists Coalition, REI support for trail volunteer days, Friends of the Forest, City of Sedona, Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau, and many individual donations. Kevin Adams, president of SRRTF, stated “We have contracted for construction of approximately the first third of this project; more funds will be needed to complete the entire project by 2021.”

Planning for the Western Gateway Project began 5 years ago as a response to growing trail use and a need to shift use from more crowded areas. Recent City of Sedona “community focus area” planning confirmed the use of the Girdner Trailhead location as an important and well used public space.

There is strong recognition of the importance of our local trails as a main venue for forest access, their contribution to a healthy lifestyle and to a robust tourism economy.

SRRTF continues to work with all interested partners to complete the project.

Total project costs are estimated at over $400,000. SRRTF project leader Jennifer Burns emphasized how important donations from local businesses and trail users are to the success of our local trail construction and annual maintenance.

For more information on the Western Gateway Project or to find out about trail volunteer dates, go to www.redrocktrailfund.org or www.VVCC.us

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