Finding places to ride seems to be getting more and more difficult. Off-road riders face land closures, limited access, angry neighbors, and a general dislike of off-road riding motorcyclists. Lands that were once open to motorcyclists have been closed as well. But in Arizona, this is changing.

Good News in Arizona

So it’s really great news when you hear of new areas being opened to motorcyclists and other trail users. In this case, the new area is called the Red Springs Trail in the Tumacacori Mountains. The trail features 24.6 miles of trail south of the Green Valley in Arizona.

The new riding area is a reality due to a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and the Trail Riders of Southern Arizona.

Red Springs Trail Wysopal

Planning the new trail was a partnership between the Trail Riders of Southern Arizona and the U.S. Forest Service. Photo credit: George Wysopal

The U.S. Forest Service and Trail Riders of Southern Arizona Partnership

Heidi Schewel, a U.S. Forest Service, public affair specialist, said of the new trail:

“It’s on Forest Service land, and we had to do the environmental analysis, but they [the Trail Riders of Arizona] did a lot of the work and the heavy lifting,”

Trail Construction and Dedication

The Trail Riders of Arizona and the U.S. Forest Service started work in 2018. And, the trail was opened and dedicated on Wednesday, December 4th.

Trial Riders’ President George Wysopal said the organization provided more than 1,600 volunteer hours to the project and will continue to offer volunteer hours to maintain the trail.

“We were there virtually every day. As a club, we were out there clearing brush, clearing rocks of the trail, working side-by-side with the Arizona Conservation Corps group that came out to help build part of this trail.”

Red Springs Trail Wysopal

Trail Riders of Southern Arizona President George Wysopal working on the new Red Springs Trail. Photo Credit: George Wysopal

Obtaining Funding

Getting a new trail built is no small feat. First, the group had to get to the point that the U.S. Forest Service would believe the Trail Riders’ commitment to the project. Wysopal said the non-profit group had to prove its legitimacy through other volunteer projects in the community.

The group was able to convince Coronado recreation staff officer John Titre, to take a chance on them. Titre started work on securing grant funding, and the U.S. Forest Service got a $274,000 grant. In addition, the group had to raise an additional $54,000 in volunteer matching funds. Ultimately, the group was able to receive the funds from the Arizona State Parks and Trails Off-Highway Vehicle Program.

Trail Highlights

The new trail contains 26.4 miles of trail. Most of the miles are social trails, and the remaining miles of trails are new.

“The trail was built conforming to a lot of the topography that’s already out there to reduce soil erosion and protect the natural resources,” she said. “It’s narrow in scope for two-wheeled motorcycles or mountain bikes, horses or hikers.”

The new riding area is in open desert and grassland.  But the path is narrow and therefore not recommended for ATVs.

Mike Cook, left, and Tim McGuire install a metal barrier during the construction of the Red Springs Trail in the Tumacacori Mountains. Photo credit: George Wysopal

Schewel says the U.S. Forest Service doesn’t expect a lot of conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users on the trail, but trail activities are being monitored.

That monitoring is going to be done primarily by the Trail Riders of Southern Arizona, they’re taking that on. And then we’ll have our law enforcement people that are patrolling as part of their regular duties.”

Issues not Forecast

Arizona Trail Riders President Wysopal said that the group regularly riders the trail and hasn’t had any significant problems with trail misuse. His group continues to engage the public about staying on the trail and not riding in the open desert.

Although there have been a few instances of riding off-trail, Wysopal doesn’t see it becoming an issue. He says that the rough terrain and remote location act as a natural deterrent. The U.S. Forest Service says that the critical concern is for the trail users to show each other common courtesy to avoid conflicts.

Wysopal added that users need to maintain basic trail etiquette.  The trail is a mixed-use area. That means it is open to everyone, including non-motorized users.

Red Springs Trail Wysopal

A worker helps prepare the newly minted Red Springs Trail. Photo credit: George Wysopal

Getting to the Red Springs Trail

Since the area is in the desert, it’s a bit remote. To visit the Red Springs Trail, follow these directions:

  • From Green Valley/Sahuarita, head south on Interstate 19 and exit at Chavez Siding Road.
  • Head west to the “T” intersection and go north.
  • Drive about 0.3 miles and turn west at the dirt road with a cattle guard access gate marked, “Hunter Access Point,” on a small sign.
  • There is an immediate “main” staging area to the south or a staging area about four miles west on the dirt road. (The terrain is rough and not suited for vehicles with low clearances.)
Red Springs Trail Wysopal Map

A map showing the new Red Springs Trail. Image credit: U.S. Forest Service

Many thanks to the Trail Riders of Arizona. Without their commitment and time, this new riding area would not be available. If you are in the area and plan to ride the trail, give them a shout out. Perhaps it’s time for all of us to join a riding group and help build and maintain riding trails? Look at what they have accomplished.

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