Engaging Public-Sector Partners


Maricopa Trail Volunteer Stewardship Program

The 315-mile Maricopa Trail links 27 communities and many public land management agency partners through its volunteer trail maintenance program in Arizona.

The Maricopa Trail and Park Foundation is a nonprofit organization formed in 2004 to provide maintenance and stewardship support for the 315-mile Maricopa Trail completed in 2018-2019.

Working in partnership with the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department and under a Memorandum of Agreement with Maricopa County, the Foundation's Volunteer Maricopa Trail Maintenance and Stewardship Program has been funded by the Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration's Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grant since 2017-2020.

The Foundation recruits and trains volunteers that lead trail maintenance work events on segments and trailheads on the nonmotorized route of the Maricopa Trail using hand trail tools and personal protective equipment to sustainably conserve the natural surface trail corridor for hiking, running, biking, and horseback riding in a Sonoran Desert and mountainous environment.

The Foundation has a developed a robust partnership program with 27 urban and rural communities, multiple agencies, nonprofit organizations, youth trail corps groups, community youth groups, and business sponsors who provide additional significant support for this RTP project.

The Maricopa Trail is a loop and spur system that connects the 10 Maricopa County Regional Parks with more than 120,000 acres of open space and more than 500 miles of trails serving one of the nation's largest county parks systems. The vision of completing the Maricopa Trail was realized at the Dedication Ceremonies in December 2018, with hundreds of community and agency leaders and supporting partners in attendance. Two rehabilitated Harris hawks were released at these ceremonies, the bird that forms part of the Maricopa Trail logo on all trail signs and kiosks.

Many miles of the Maricopa Trail are maintained by youth programs and projects, such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and youth corps crews. The RTP grant includes funds for hiring youth corps trail maintenance crews and the Foundation's programs include activities that support outreach to youth in partnering Maricopa County communities.

The Foundation has expanded the scope of the RTP grant through the development of funding support from local, regional, and national sponsors for events held on the route of the Maricopa Trail. The signature event is the Prickly Pedal Mountain Bike Race in the Maricopa Trail (and virtual Challenge) held annually that attracts participants from the regional states and the nation, including Olympians in training. The Foundation manages all of the event activities and secures the sponsorship and partnership support.

The Prickly Pedal event attracts 200-300 participants and more than 30 partner sponsors who raise an average of $80,000-$100,000 each year to support the event and augment the RTP funds for the primary mission to sustainably maintain and preserve the Maricopa Trail through the Foundation's volunteer programs. The event will be held in 2020-2021 as a "virtual challenge" due to COVID-19 guidelines.

The Foundation's Communities Program reaches out to assist communities with their General Plan updates, encouraging inner-city parks and trails and transportation systems to link to the Maricopa Trail that offers expanded recreational opportunities to residents and visitors. These connections to the Maricopa Trail increase tourism, economic development, active transportation links, enhancing the livability, health and fitness, and accessibility to hundreds of miles of conserved opens space, protected flora and fauna habitats and wildlife corridors, and ever-expanding the public's non-motorized access to urban and rural transportation benefits.

More winners of this award

2021: Waterloo Valley Trail Bridge

2019: Duck River Reservoir Recreation Area

2017: Rountree Branch Trail - Platteville, Wisconsin

2016: Eureka Trail - Tennessee