• Anza Trail

    Juan Bautista de Anza

    National Historic Trail AZ,CA

Trail Certification Requirements

Did you know?

Of the 1200 miles of Anza Trail in the United States, 250 miles of trail have been built and certified as of 2010. The goal is for the entire recreation trail to be finished by 2100.

Some people have seen other historic trails, such as the Oregon Trail, where wagon wheel ruts or other permanent marks on the land are clearly visible. This gets some folks wondering where the actual historic Anza trail can be seen. They will find that there never was an Anza 'Trail.' Anza was guided by Indians on trails their peoples had used for thousands of years. He was not blazing a trail.

Two other reasons there may never be anything found from the expedition is that Anza took this route once, leaving nothing behind except the hoofprints of his horse on soft soil. Tracks wouldn't have lasted a year. And, the 300 people and 1000 head of livestock who followed him were spread out due to the dust clouds. They did not travel single file. This is why the corridor is so wide and there is no actual historic trail to be seen.

Recreation trails should be located within the historic corridor or very near it. Recreation trails are symbolic pathways of the obliterated historic tracks of Anza and all who followed him in 1775-6.

How to get your segment of trail certified:

The NPS has seven criteria that must be met for recreation trail to be certified.

1) Nominated trail section must have a surveyed easement that can not be changed for at least 10 years, but preferably into perpetuity, as well as held by a government agency at the local level. This prevents subsequent landowners from modifying or removing the trail.

2) Each trail segment pending certification must be a part of a larger comprehensive trail plan. This will prevent trail segments from being haphazardly aligned along the corridor. Ultimately, all segments will be connected together. Thus, they need to line up cohesively end to end, knowing that gaps will be filled in eventually. Otherwise, trail segments can be built miles apart in areas where the corridor is quite wide. For example, in Pinal County, the trail corridor widens to over five miles. If one segment was built near the west edge of the corridor, but then just to the north another segment was built just inside the east boundary, a five mile east-west connector trail would be required to span the corridor and connect these two segments. This an inconvenience to trail users and causes confusion. Also, land features which present boundaries need to be considered, such as a river without crossings, or an impassable interstate highway. These obstacles makes connectivity difficult.

3) The long term easement must set aside a corridor with a minimum width of 50 feet but preferably 80-100 feet. In developed areas such as a housing subdivision project, the trail must be landscaped and appealing, such as lined with native vegetation. Exceptions are made where trail is limited in width by existing natural terrain such as a mountain pass or a river, or in pre-existing urban areas such as Nogales, AZ, where the trail has no option but to be located on a city sidewalk. In almost all other circumstances though, a sidewalk is not an adequate trail.

4) A maintenance agreement must be established with an organization who can be relied upon to maintain the trail, check and replace signs, and report on trail conditions. This is usually a federal entity, county or other local government, established volunteer group, or a homeowner's association.

5) This is a public trail, thus access can't be limited. For example, trails that pass through a housing development can't restrict trail use to residents only.

6) Anza is correctly referred to either as "Juan Bautista de Anza" or "Anza." While many people think his name was 'De Anza,' it was not. Calling any segment the "De Anza Trail" will hold up trail certification until the name is corrected. For more click here.

7) Trail must be usable for hiking, biking, and equestrian use. The Trail is NON-motorized.


Once the above criteria have been met, the National Park Service will need a report describing the trail including maps and images. Click here for the page that explains the requirements in legal language and includes the submission form.

For more information, please contact the Anza Trail Superintendent. (510) 817-1438. The Anza Trail Coalition of Arizona, a volunteer group, has successfully had trail certified and are available for questions as well.

Benefits of Trail Certification

Once trail has been certified, the official NPS triangular trail emblem can be used. The NPS may be able to provide metal-backed signs or stickers for carsonite posts for entities who can't afford signs for their certified segments of trail. Developers and governments are typically expected to cover the cost themselves.

Private landowners find that certified trail has many benefits. This includes increased safety. Research has found that criminals avoid developed trails. Other benefits include significantly increased property values, opportunities for funding and grants, a contribution to an area's cultural legacy, and an overall enhancement in quality of life.

Anza Trail in Marana, AZ certified in 2008.
Jeff Axel - NPS

Did You Know?