There is a new trail system in Page that is open to bicycles, walkers and hikers. On July 22, 2023, the City of Page and Page Public Library had a ribbon cutting event that introduced visitors to the new non-motorized trail system on a sunny, cloudless morning. There was a contest to win prizes by visiting the checkpoints along the trail system. The event opened at 8 a.m., Arizona time, and lasted until 12 p.m.
From left to right, photos by Phil Clark:
View of Page from the Red Mesa Rim Trail. Photos courtesy of Phil Clark.
Debbie Winlock of the Page Public Library shows off one of the ‘Kindness Rocks’ that were hidden along the trails.
A family gets some exercise on the trail system.
Two walkers follow the trail on the rim with a trail marker in the foreground.
The Red Mesa Rim Trail system offers three ranges of difficulty: easy (blue diamond), moderate (green diamond) and difficult (black diamond). The trails are marked with white “Carsonite” posts with colors and arrows. The total mileage of trails is around 11 miles.
The official address of the trail is 2155 Coppermine Road; however, Google Maps showed this address to be about one-fourth of a mile north of the actual location. The road to the trailhead starts on the east side of N20 on Page’s south side and climbs to the top of the mesa. The new gravel surfaced road is accessible to passenger cars and leads to a large gravel parking lot surrounded by a metal fence. The facility is just south of Page and the Industrial Park, just north of the Navajo community of LeChe’e.
At the newly constructed trailhead there is also a vault toilet made of solid colored and textured concrete for visitors to use. There is no running water, so it is best to bring plenty of water. It is recommended that hikers and cyclists bring at least three liters per day and even more if it is more strenuous. The rule of thumb is if a person feels thirsty, they are already dehydrated.
At the Grand Opening event, people steadily arrived. In the first hour, the first check station had made contact with 21 hikers and cyclists. The registration table at the trailhead recorded 105 participants by 9:30 a.m. As visitors arrived, each was given a map of the trails and an opportunity to participate in a scavenger hunt. According to Debbie Winlock of the Page Public Library, the scavenger hunt involved going to different locations along the trail system and have a game card stamped and take part in activities such as taking selfies and other photographs. Once the card was full, participants redeemed their card at the main tent for prizes. Several riders and hikers passed the first checkpoint and were positive about the trail system and glad that this new option is available to locals and visitors. At the end of the day, according to Cormier, 145 people registered at the event. Of those around half participated in the scavenger hunt. Cormier and other participants consider the event a success, despite the hot weather.
As part of the event, the library staff hid around 25 hand painted “Kindness Rocks.” Members of the library painted the rocks as part of the summer program. Participants could redeem the rocks for prizes.
The Red Mesa Rim Trail is not the first trail of this kind in Page. The Page Rim Trail circumnavigates Manson Mesa, where Page is mostly located. The Rim trail was first developed in the mid- 1980s. The new trail system offers visitors several loop trails that branch to other trails.
From the trailhead the trails lead north and south to a series of loops. The official trail map at the trailheads shows the trails and levels of difficulty. There are several loops as well as trails “out and back” for points of interest.
The easy trail follows the rim and offers expansive views. The trail crosses rock, gravel and sand areas. The first half mile to the first check point was mostly level and not very difficult. Bryce Canyon National Park was visible in the distance with its pink cliffs contrasting with the darker forested areas. At 60 miles from Page, Bryce seems so close to Page but requires a three-hour drive to get there.
The trail system is the brainchild of Lynn Cormier, Director of Community and Recreation Services for the City of Page. The idea was born before the pandemic. According to Jeffrey Schmidt, work on the trail system was completed using grant funds from the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). RTP is a federal grant program that provides matching funds for the development and maintenance of both motorized and non-motorized trails and trailhead facilities. The program is jointly administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), and Arizona State Parks.
“The city was awarded $149,925 by the Arizona State Parks Board back in February 2022. ADOT was responsible for reviewing cultural/archaeological and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation, ensuring the proposal will not have any effect on cultural and environmental resources, and conducting tribal consultation. ADOT completed tribal consultation and provided a finding of no effect in June 2022. After working through the agreement process, Page was provided a finalized agreement and approval to proceed with the work in September 2022.”
Shortly after award of the grant, the City of Page contracted with Cuddy Mountain Trail Co. owned by Doug Hanson. The city had originally envisioned a five-mile trail on the top of the mesa. After evaluating the actual ground conditions, Hanson’s company completed almost double the original trail mileage. “When they were done, I was blown away at how amazing of a trail system that we now have,” says Cormier.
Schmidt says: “We are extremely pleased with how everything turned out, especially with how quickly the project was implemented and completed ... these federal grant programs can sometimes be pretty slow moving. The fact that the work was approved and completed in about 1.5 years is a major accomplishment, and a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved, especially the City of Page, and Cuddy Mountain Trail Company.” The city can apply for additional grants from the program to further develop the trail system and provide additional signage and amenities.
According to local hiker Tierney Knox, the trail has “Beautiful views! I really like there are levels of difficulty.” She goes on to say, “I really like the parking. Plenty of spaces, beats just parking along the side of the road.”
For information about both the Rim Trail and the new Red Mesa Rim Trail, visit cityofpage.org/departments/parksandtrails/ or call the City of Page at 928-645-8861.