Work to close trail today
Helicopters to airlift soil, beams, rock to Pinnacle Peak Park
The Arizona Republic Diana Balazs Jan. 9, 2007 12:00 AM
Scottsdale's popular Pinnacle Peak Park and trail will close today to allow tons of soil, rock and beams to be airlifted by helicopter to the trail as part of an extensive maintenance program.
The airlift, which begins at 9 a.m., will launch an eight-week maintenance project to rebuild the trail's retaining walls.
In some cases, the supporting stone also will be replaced on the path up north Scottsdale's most recognizable landmark.
The park is being closed Tuesday for safety reasons. A helicopter is being used because vehicles are not allowed on the trail, not even bicycles. Using all-terrain vehicles to haul the material would disturb the trail.
In addition, the trail is so narrow in places that an ATV could not get through with a trailer.
The park's use, coupled with erosion from storms, has prompted the maintenance effort, said John Loleit, park coordinator.
The park's granite-based soil has little organic material to bind it so it erodes easily, he said.
The following construction material will be airlifted:
• 80 tons of rock to replace or redo retaining walls.
• 5,000 pounds of beams made from recycled material from automobile interiors. The beams, which are termite-proof, will be used as steps along the trail.
• 5,000 pounds of stabilized soil, containing plant resins and wax, will be mixed with native soil to make the trail path stay last longer.
The 150-acre park at 26802 N. 102nd Way, a mile north of Happy Valley Road, off Alma School Road, reopened in April 2002 after a nearly eight-year closure caused by an access dispute with homeowners surrounding Pinnacle Peak.
Now, the park attracts nearly 200,000 visitors a year.
It features a 1.75-mile trail and is popular with hikers, rock climbers and horseback riders.
Scottsdale's Parks and Recreation Division is funding the project through a $44,000 Recreational Trails Program grant. The federal fund is administered by Arizona State Parks.
The Rotary Club of Pinnacle Peak is picking up the estimated $10,000 tab for the helicopter airlift provided by Glendale-based Airwest Helicopters, Loleit said. The club has sponsored two previous airlifts, he said.
Loleit said the work is being done now during peak trail attendance because the cooler weather allows for the helicopter to lift more load per trip. And the crew doing the maintenance work is available during the winter.
The trail should remain open during the work, but if there is a closure for some reason, signs will be posted to alert visitors, Loleit said.
The work will be done primarily during the week, with an occasional weekend affected.
Pinnacle Peak Park is open daily from dawn to dusk. Free, guided hikes are offered each week, Tuesday through Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. Hikes last about two hours and cover a little more than a mile, all while discussing the elements of the beautiful Sonoran Desert.
The park also offers other programs such as speakers on various topics and full moon hikes.
Details: (480) 312-0990.
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