2007 Project of the Year: Historic Island Trail Restoration


Winner: Coconino Rural Environment Corps

The Coconino Rural Environment Corps, whose mission is in part, “To carry on the tradition of the Civilian Conservation Corps”, has been working in partnership with the Flagstaff Area Monuments for several years to repair and rehabilitate the historic Island Trail.  The Island Trail is a strenuous one-mile loop whose 185 vertical foot descent deep into the canyon is made possible by over 200 stone and concrete steps.  Originally built by the CCC, these steps have slowly degraded from use and the freeze-thaw processes active in the 7000 foot climate.  During 2006, CREC members had the great honor of literally following in the footsteps of the CCC by taking on the daunting task of restoring the Island Trail stairs.

Between July and September of 2006, 40 CREC AmeriCorps members contributed 2,961 hours of service to the restoration of the Island Trail stairs over 10 project weeks, through funding awarded by the Arizona State Parks’ Recreational Trails Program (RTP).  Crews began by demolishing the remnants of 78 decomposing steps and manually hauling the debris out of the canyon via the 185 foot near vertical climb.  During this phase, crews uncovered much of the original CCC rock work which had been unfortunately encased in concrete in years since construction.  Additionally, crews uncovered CCC period beverage cans evidently either used as filler, or simply forgotten as trash.  Subsequent crews manually transported 20,880 pounds or more than 10 tons of concrete and over 400 gallons down the trail using backpack haulers.  Members built 25 retaining walls and other erosion control structures and formed and poured more than 90 steps in 4 separate flights of stairs.

As of the close of this season, CREC members have restored nearly half of the more than 200 stairs on the Island Trail.  With additional RTP funding available pending necessary approvals and clearances, CREC looks forward to continued collaboration with Flagstaff Area Monuments and to the eventual full restoration of the CCC’s historic Island Trail.