ARIZONA – In an attempt to cover the 800 mile long Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT) in one day, outdoor enthusiasts are welcome to travel by vehicle, foot, bike or horseback on one leg of it for the 3rd annual AZT in a Day celebration on Saturday, Oct. 10.
According to an email from Shannon Villegas, Arizona Trail Association marketing and graphic designer, “Each person will have a few miles to complete and 24 hours to do it.”
AZT is a national treasure which stretches from the border with Mexico to the Utah border and covers some of Arizona’s most beautiful, remote, desert and mountain scenery. AZT in a Day offers participants a way to be part of a large group of people working toward a common goal, spread out over 800 miles.
“The trail is open and welcomes you to practice social distancing while traveling through breathtaking landscapes,” said Matthew Nelson, Executive Director of the Arizona Trail Association. “In times of uncertainty, the trail is a portal into a calmer, more beautiful reality.
“It took tens of thousands of volunteers over three decades to build the Arizona Trail, and now we’re delighted to be able to invite everyone to share this amazing public resource during one of the best times of the year. No matter how far you can hike, run or ride, we hope everyone can enjoy some time on the AZT throughout 2020.”
AZT has been divided into sections ranging in length from 1.8 to 15.1 miles, explained Villegas. Participants can choose between desert, mountain, canyon, forest or urban segments of the trail. The AZT passes through eight wilderness areas, four National Forests, two National Parks, one National Memorial, one State Park and passes through or near 32 gateway communities.
“We advise participants be well-prepared. Some access points require 4-wheel drive or high clearance vehicles,” said Karrie Kessler, Administrative Director.
A few sections of the trail are remote and require extra planning. For these sections, participants familiar with backpacking will be required to camp in particular areas at least a day before the actual event to be ready to complete their portion, according to Kessler.
“So far, we have hikers, runners, bikers and equestrians booked for over 90 percent of the sections, but there are still sections that need to be covered,” Nelson noted.
This summer’s wildfires have damaged over 100 miles of the AZT and several of these areas are not expected to be safe or ready to reopen this year, Villegas stated.
“Since five wildfires have scorched the trail and surrounding landscape this summer, we have a lot of work ahead to restore the AZT,” pointed out Nelson. “It takes a strong organization to protect and maintain 800 miles of trail.”
Online registration is free and open to everyone. Visit: http://aztrail.org/events/aztinaday-2020/ for more information.