Did you know there are 30 National Scenic and Historic Trails across the country, and Page is fortunate to be situated near two of them?
The Arizona National Scenic Trail and the Old Spanish National Historic Trail are two significant trail assets located in our own local backyard.
Throughout the course of history, trails and pathways have guided and united humans across the landscape – in some cases, even providing the original roots of our emigration journeys.
Today, more than ever, we value the use of recreational trails. They are recognized as essential components of our personal lives and are important community assets.
Look no farther than to popularity of the City of Page Rim Trail. Connected to neighborhoods via several trailheads, this recreational trail is used on weekly basis, if not daily basis, by many Page residents. In addition to the Rim Trail, visiting tourists seek out other local trail experiences like Horseshoe Bend and the Hanging Gardens Trail, to mention just two.
Page has become famous for its trails. Each year, several thousand runners descend on to Page to experience the local trail system in competitive sports events and then travel back home with photos and memories of a lifetime.
The popularity of trails is perhaps not so surprising when you consider that hiking, biking and equestrian trails provide a simple means to literally stay grounded. Trails offer each of us the opportunity to play, explore and savor natural wonders. Trails can take us to the top of the highest mountains, through the deepest canyons, across vast open spaces or to places of quiet solitude.
The Arizona National Scenic Trail traverses Arizona from Mexico to the Utah Border west of Page. This trail was the dream of Dale Shewalter who, while working as a Flagstaff schoolteacher in mid-1980s, envisioned a cross-state trail.
In 2006, the trail was designated a State Scenic Trail by the Arizona Legislature. Then in 2009, it received National Scenic Trail status by the United States Congress under the Omnibus Public Land Management Act. The Arizona Trail is one of only 11 National Scenic Trails in America.
Additionally, a branch of the Old Spanish National Historic Trail is located near Page.
In 1829, a Mexican mule caravan packed with woolen goods officially opened trade between the small settlements near Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Pueblo of Los Angeles. The route chosen by the mule caravan, led by Antonio Armijo, traversed sections of the Navajo Nation, then crossed the Colorado River at the site known as the “Crossing of the Fathers” in today’s Glen Canyon National Recreation Area before heading west out across the Arizona Strip. The Old Spanish National Historic Trail was designated by Congress in 2002 and is one of only 19 National Scenic Trails in America.
The National Park Service considers historic trails a means to help paint the colorful picture of our nation’s diversity. This type of trail typically follows past routes of exploration, migration, struggle, trade and military action. National Historic Trails offer the opportunity to re-trace these past events through historic sites, points of interests, trail segments and waterways.
In summary, trails are significant community assets that provide opportunities for both physical and spiritual health. They are ribbons on the landscape that connect us. Trails can help show us the way and expand our horizons.
The Old Spanish Trail Association will be celebrating the remarkable role of our National Trail System and the 20th anniversary of congressional designation at an upcoming National Trails Conference in Page, Arizona, on Oct. 20-23. Visit oldspanishtrail.org for details.