Bikers, hikers, equestrians help open
Anza Trail in GV

Sunday, December 8 2007

By Kathy Engle, Special to the Green Valley News

It’s a dawn-to-dusk operation, geared for walkers, their dogs, bicyclists and equestrians who want to enjoy the multiple benefits of outdoor exercise in a scenic setting on the historic Canoa Ranch.

About 50 people attended a dedication ceremony Friday to mark the opening of the “Anza Multi-Use Path,” a segment of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, which eventually will run from Nogales to San Francisco.

The local segment runs 5.3 miles north from the trailhead on the north side of Elephant Head Road just west of the Santa Cruz River bridge.  The northern access to the trail, which includes three shade ramadas, a prepared surface for hikers, bikers and signage, and a parking area off Elephant Head Road, is at the north end of the east side frontage road at the Canoa Road exit, where the Canoa Ranch headquarters is located.

Eqestrians are asked by Pima County, which owns the land, to ride on the east side of the prepared trail because of concerns about safety and manure.

No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail, which was constructed at a cost of a little more than $1 million, utilizing Pima County Historic Preservation bond funds and an Arizona Department of Transportation Enhancement grant of approximately $500,000.

The trail is rural, with no facilities and no water. It is designed to give walkers, cyclists and equestrians a feel for the countryside the Anza expedition traversed,” according to a news release from Pima County.

The Anza Trail commemorates the colonizing expedition of 1775-76 that left Tubac on Oct. 23, 1775, and arrived in what is now San Francisco in March 1776.

The expedition was a huge one, involving 300 people, mostly prospective colonists—men, women and children— a few soldiers, some Indian guides and padres, more than 300 horses, dozens of mules and about 600 beef cattle.

Once the expedition arrived in San Francisco, the colonists set about building a fort and their own homes.

This was the first permanent European settlement in San Francisco and founded the city of today.

“On this expedition, everyone walked or rode a horse. There were no wheeled vehicles. They spent six months getting from Tubac to what is now San Francisco,” said Roger Anyon, cultural resources program manager, Pima County Cultural Resources and Historic Preservation Office, who oversaw the project and spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.

The expedition passed its first night on the Canoa Ranch. There, a woman died in childbirth, the expedition’s only fatality. Her baby boy survived and went on to San Francisco.

Bicyclists ride on the new 5.3-mile segment of the Anza Trail, which opened with a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday

The Canoa Ranch segment in Green Valley was a long time coming to fruition, said Jim DiGiacomo, executive director of the Green Valley Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce, who said he and local volunteers spent 12 years working with the county on plans for the trail.  During that period, numerous public hearings were conducted to solicit local advice and concerns, which focused on access , illegal immigrants, maintenance and manure.

Steve Anderson, principal planner, Pima County Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Department, said the Canoa segment involved a “tremendous effort and obstacles, ” but received strong support from the Pima County Board of Supervisors “for preserving natural resources.

Three supervisors spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, which includes six horseback riders, about 20 cyclists, and numerous walkers who showed up early to try out the trail.

Democrat Richard Elias, who represents District 5 and chairs the board, said the trail helps celebrate the Hispanic heritage of many in the Santa Cruz Valley, including his own family.  He said he hoped the trail would provide an opportunity “for all of us to recognize our past,” come together over the issue of illegal immigration, and “share the wealth of the borderlands region.”

Supervisor Sharon Bronson, a Democrat who represents District 3, characterized the Anza Trail as “an important trail in the West and one which Pima County started working on in 1990. when Congress designated it as a historic trail,” one of only five national historic trails in the United States.”  Eventually, the trail will include about 12 miles in Green Valley, eight miles in Sahuarita, some 70 miles in Pima County, and about 1,100 miles from Nogales to San Francisco., she said.  She challenged fellow Supervisors Ray Carroll and Elias to join her in experiencing the Anza Trail in Pima County on foot or on horseback,

Supervisor Carroll, a Republican who represents District 4, praised county officials, especially Anderson and Anyon for their patience on the project and urged audience members to get out and hike the trail, noting that walking “has one of the highest rates of return and the lowest dropout rate” among exercise programs.

Dog walkers at the event were represented by Judy Ramseyer of Green Valley, with her “poodle plus” and Havanese dogs Barney and Cody.  Bill Adamson and Jim Jordan, co-chairs of the Santa Cruz Valley Bicycle Advocates, represented cyclists at the event.  Horseback riders were Gus Amado Jr, and his wife Bobbi, Amanda Borduin, Nadine Danton, Trish Toole an Nan Walden.  Local dignitaries at the ceremony included Richard Williams, president of the Anza Trail Coalition of Arizona, Tom Ward, vice president, and Joyce Finkelstein, executive director, Green Valley Coordinating Council, and Sandra Stone, chair, Canoa Ranch Trust Oversight Committee