The making of a Trail - Circle Z Ranch

This year we spent a considerable amount of time exploring for, and developing new trails around the ranch property for our guests to enjoy come this Fall. Some of the trails open up new terrain and some incorporate  old routes with a new twist! We thought it would be fun to take you along for the ride so you can see what goes into finding and developing new trails, where these new route are, their names, and how we plan on using them!

So the fun part is going out to look for new trails. We always have an idea in mind of the areas we want to explore and open up, so we spend time exploring these spots either by horseback or by hiking, Following old game or cattle trails is super helpful, especially when in steep terrain, because the animals always know the easy ways up or down a canyon! A couple of the trails this year were made to extend particular trails into loops, and it was a matter of visualizing, then hiking to find the best connection.

After we identify the chosen route, the real work begins. We load up chainsaws, loppers, small saws, McCleods and really good work shoes and gloves! With 5-7 staff, we start sawing mesquite trees, chiseling through cat claw (which is a nasty as it sounds) and kicking, lifting, or scraping rocks off of the trail. And just when you think you have found the best way up a steep canyon, Omar or Jennie will find a better way, which is great because that’s team work at it’s finest!

So here are the trails we’ve improved or rerouted.

  • Nancy Howard Trail. Widened this trail in several areas and removed rocks. Also made a connecting loop to Bradford Mine (which was only an out and back trail).
  • Sand Canyon. Removed lots of rocks from a steep area that circle up and around some large boulders in the canyon
  • The Trogan Trail: This is a rerouting of Steph’s Trail by the lake, which had become washed out and was also very steep! The new route is much gentler and adds about 30 minutes to this ride.

And here are the new trails:

  • Preston’s Trail connects Nash ridge with the old Stacy’s trail to the North of Circle Z Mountain. This trail does have some steeps, so is more for riders comfortable with that. It opens up some really beautiful views of Squaw Gulch. A good ride for those wanting a longer trail on the way home from the Chuck-wagon cookout.
  • Hideout Trail is a replacement trail for Smugglers, which had become too washed out and rocky. This trail connects off of Jesses Trail and is gentle,with great views to the North and Mount Wrightson.
  • The DJ Trail heads out of, or towards (depending on your starting point), the Bar Z Cook out area. The views are stunning of the Patagonia Mountain range and of Castle Butte and weaves in and out of some cool rock formation.
  • The Hohokam Trail is another near the Bar Z Cookout, and will be great for all day rides or the Bar Z Cookout ride. Whether you take the loop that goes all the way around Castle Butte, or the straight shot to the South of Castle Butte, you feel like you are using trails that were once used by the natives. And there are some surprises along the way!!
  • The Sierra Loop will make for a wonderful afternoon ride, as it heads in the direction of the Patagonia Mountains, and the lights and shadows are really great in the afternoon. We are considering offering this ride as a “photography” ride for those wanting a photo on their horse as a keepsake.