Brief History of the
Sun Corridor Trail

It sounds very cliché, but the concept of the Sun Corridor Trail was honestly hatched on a bar room napkin! Steve Andersen with Pima County Natural Resources Parks and Recreation was receiving an award at the 2013 National Association of County Park and Recreation Professionals meeting in Houston, Texas. Steve was being recognized, in part, for his work on a loop trail around the City of Tucson called the Tribute Trail. After the meeting, R.J. Cardin, Director of Maricopa County Parks and Recreation, and Steve began discussing the similarities between the Maricopa Trail, a 315-mile loop around the great Phoenix metro area that was under construction, and the Tribute Trail that was getting underway. On the back of a napkin, the two began discussing the potential of linking the two loop trails using the Central Arizona National Recreation Trail (CAP Trail) in Pinal County. The CAP Trail seemed like a viable option since Pinal County was already in the planning and development process for this corridor. The two soon enlisted the support of Kent Taylor, Director of Pinal County Open Space and Trails, and the concept of linking three counties took shape.

In subsequent years, a small group of county and city park professionals had begun to meet to discuss linking communities along the route such as Marana and Casa Grande. The growing popularity of urban trail loops statewide was noted during those meetings. Flagstaff, for example, had one of the original urban loops, and the burgeoning Prescott region had also begun the development of a loop system.

From those discussions, the concept of expanding to the south of Pima County and north of Maricopa County was envisioned. The concept kept growing until the leaders knocked on the door of Las Vegas to include their new loop concept. After a mapping exercise and focused discussion with a larger group of stakeholders and trail advocates, it became apparent that the many pieces to knit this unique system together were already in place or in the planning stages.

Today, The Sun Corridor Trail Project is a multi-agency effort led by County, City, State, and Federal entities and newly formed non-profit organization- (Sun Corridor Trail Alliance) to link together some of the most scenic and significant regional trails in the southwestern United States along a burgeoning economic, transportation and tourism corridor. Once completed, the project will enhance quality of life opportunities for area residents by providing additional venues to recreate, increasing property values, and leaving a legacy of natural corridors for generations to come. In addition, the trail will enhance community and regional economies through the addition to our state’s nature-based travel and tourism portfolio providing visitors with new destination points and venues to learn about our diverse flora, fauna, and cultural heritage.

Our Partners

The Sun Corridor Trail wouldn’t become a reality without the collaboration and commitment of our partners. They include Federal and State Entities: Bureau of Land Management, National Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, Arizona Office of Tourism, and Arizona State Parks and Trails as well as local businesses and organizations, Trail Towns and nonprofits.

Current Projects

  • Received 501(c)(3) tax-exemption status.

  • Awarded $250,000 from the Visit Arizona Initiative Outdoor Recreation Revitalization Grant by the Arizona Office of Tourism.

  • The grant is being used for marketing, trail development and creating a Trail Town program to connect trail users to communities, their businesses and trailside amenities.

  • Drafting a Master Agreement with all impacted counties and cities.

Roadmap of Future Plans

To transform the concept of the Sun Corridor Trail into a sustainable reality, many entities will need to work together.

  • State participation

  • Federal assistance

  • The participation of nongovernmental organizations (Arizona Parks and Recreation Association, National Recreation and Park Association, Central Arizona Conservation Alliance, and others)

  • Planning for long-term marketing, signage, and maintenance