Eight hundred miles is a long distance to attempt to drive in a day. If traveling by foot, bike, horse or any other self-powered means, it’s impossible within 24 hours.
Or is it?
On Saturday, Oct. 10, hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts from across Arizona will cover one of over 100 separate sections of the Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT), which extends from the Mexico border to the Utah border in an attempt to complete the entire trail in a single day. Each person will have a few miles to complete and 24 hours to do it.
The Trail is a Refuge
Despite countless large event cancelations throughout the summer and wildfire activity along the trail, the third annual AZT in a DAY remains in motion.
“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.”
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.
“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 and especially on October 10 for AZT in a DAY,” said Nelson.
Choosing Your Section
The 800-mile trail has been divided into sections ranging in length from 1.8 to 15.1 miles. Participants will have 24 hours to complete their portion of the trail. Online registration is free and open to everyone.
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 Kressler, 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 on Oct. 10, according to Kressler.
“So far, we have hikers, runners, bikers and equestrians booked for over 90% of the sections, but there are still sections that need to be covered,” Nelson said.
This year will be especially challenging for participants, as COVID-19 recommendations discourage carpooling, traveling far from home, and gathering in large groups. 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.
Participants who want to help raise money to support the Arizona Trail Association can appeal to family, friends and others to pledge dollars to support their commitment on Oct. 10.
“Since five wildfires have scorched the trail and surrounding landscape this summer, we have a lot of work ahead to restore the AZT,” said Nelson. “It takes a strong organization to protect and maintain 800 miles of trail. As we attempt to raise the funds necessary to sustain the ATA, please think about what your experiences on the AZT are worth.”
How to Get Involved
To sign up, or for more information about AZT in a DAY, visit aztrail.org/events/aztinaday-2020/, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (520) 261-8460.
About the Arizona Trail Association
The organization was incorporated in 1994 with the mission to protect, maintain, enhance, promote and sustain the 800-mile non-motorized Arizona National Scenic Trail as a unique encounter with the land. For more information, visit aztrail.org.
Caption: Arizona Trail Sign. Photo by John Byerly