Thursday, January 29, 2015

Patagonia Trail Blazing

Guest post by volunteer Bob Brandt
On Wednesday, January 7, some dozen able-bodied volunteers set about the task of building a hiking trail from Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds to The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve. The single-use trail will be nearly a mile long and will allow hikers to walk from either of these two birding hotspots to the other while enjoying some great views of the surrounding landscape from elevated parts of the trail.

Chris explains the basics of trail-building techniques and
specifications to the work crew before the actual work begins.
Crew leader Chris Strohm, a winter resident of Patagonia, has years of experience in trail building and maintenance as a result of his work on the Pacific Crest and Lake Tahoe Rim trails in California as well as maintaining and improving the 21 miles of trails in the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area adjacent to Patagonia Lake State Park. Chris, TNC preserve manager, Luke Reese, and Tucson Audubon board member, Bob Hernbrode, laid out a rough corridor before Christmas 2014, then Chris and others “tight flagged” the first section of the trail prior to the first group work day. The crew plans to work on the trail every Wednesday until it is completed, hopefully before the blistering heat of summer arrives.

The crew clears an 8-10 foot corridor of most plant material, then creates a 24 inch wide tread on which the hikers will actually set foot. The trail will meet modern trail building specifications that will ensure patrons a safe and enjoyable trek through some of the most beautiful terrain in Southeastern Arizona.

Typical view of the trail terrain before the crew clears the 8-10 foot trail corridor.
A view of part of the first section finished by the crew on Day 1.

As I post this first blog entry, about 20 individual volunteers have completed three days of trail-building, logging in more than 150 hours of effort already. The crew, affectionately known as the Dirt Bags, so far has consisted of volunteers from Patagonia, Rio Rico, Green Valley and even Tucson. Both men and women are pitching in to bring this trail to life.

Crew Leader, Chris Strohm, stands next to the sign marking the trailhead of the
The Nature Conservancy’s Geoffrey Platts Trail, part of which will be incorporated into the new trail.
Joe Watkins and Dennie Allen, both of Rio Rico, muscle a huge rock
from the future trail on the first day.
Members of the crew hard at work.
Members of the crew quench their thirst after a hard day’s work courtesy of
Tucson Audubon Vice President, Bob Hernbrode.


  1. Indeed...thank you! When will the trail be open?


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