South Mt. Park improvements moving along - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

South Mt. Park improvements moving along

March 30th, 2020 development
South Mt. Park improvements moving along

By Andy Lenartz
Guest Writer

The City of Phoenix is in the midst of a five-year, $23 million redesign of South Mountain Park and Preserve that will improve the facilities and trails to a level of world-class park that is deserving of such a popular, beloved and heavily-utilized local sanctuary.
Along with a 2017 Trails Master Plan also currently being implemented, the combined impact will change the face and user experience at a park which has not experienced significant change in many years.
Completed thus far are several facility improvements and the first trail redesigns. Highlights of the completed changes include:

• Pima Canyon Trailhead
The over-loved Pima Canyon Trailhead received a much-needed facelift and structural enhancement in 2018.
Most notably, the pit toilets were replaced by flush toilets and a sewer line – determining one’s distance from the trailhead by smell is thankfully no longer possible. Drinking water and handwash stations were added, along with a new ramada and informational kiosks.
Parking was slightly increased, weekend traffic conditions at the trailhead will remain an issue.
Utilizing the gateway concept for the remodel, which is popular at many national parks, passing through the entrance area provides a first glimpse of Pima Canyon, which is truly stunning.

• Desert Foothills/Telegraph
Pass Trailhead
Completed in 2019, the rebuilt trailhead now offers restrooms with flush toilets, water, shaded seating areas, and informational signage.
The parking lot is redesigned and slightly expanded. Similar to Pima Canyon, locating a parking spot on weekend mornings will continue to be a challenge.

• Central Avenue
The major work completed thus far, beyond the trailhead redesigns, has been in the Central Avenue area of South Mountain Park.
The entrance station has been remodeled, with a new entrance monument and gatehouse providing a more nature-connected and inspiring welcome to the park.
The Big Ramada and Little Ramada have been spruced up with replacement roofs, improved landscaping, and modified parking areas.
The result is a vastly improved appearance for these areas, both of which are can be reserved for events.

• 19th Avenue
North Ma HaTuak Trailhead
The first added and improved trails are in the Ma Ha Tuak portion of the park, where the existing T-bone and Ma Ha Tuak Trails have been rerouted.
A newly added Ma Ha Tuak Perimeter Trail wraps around the northwest section of South Mountain Park, connecting the 19th Avenue Trailhead with the San Juan Lookout.
And the Hau’pal trail provides a new challenge in this section of the park.
More changes are on deck, outlined in the 2015 South Mountain Park Design Guides Manual and 2018 Trails Master Plan.
Highlights of planned future improvements include:
Redesign of the 19th Avenue South/Pyramid Trailhead with new ramadas, paved parking lot, and a restroom.
Remodel of the Beverly Canyon Trailhead to add ramadas, signage, and improvements to parking and lighting. This was initially scheduled for 2018 but has been delayed.
Redesign of the 19th Avenue North/Ma Ha Tuak Trailhead to add a ramada and interpretive signage, along with improving parking and lighting.
Several changes at the main Central Avenue park entrance, including improving signage and parking at Scorpion Gulch, remodeling the Activity Complex, renovating the Historic Entrance Complex, adding a new ranger station, adding a bike rental and shuttle facility, and repair and replacement of several ramada areas.
The significant facility upgrades at the Pima Canyon and Desert Foothills trailheads in particular are impressive, creating gateways into the park with proper restroom facilities and much-needed water.
Seeing this level of improvement generates excitement for the next phases of these projects.
One justification for the changes is the upcoming 100th anniversary of South Mountain Park and Preserve in 2024. As the improvements move forward, the park will have a different look when this milestone birthday arrives.
– Andy Lenartz is an Ahwatukee resident and outdoors enthusiast.