Hiking enthusiast works to make Prescott Circle Trail easier for users

Courtesy photo<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Local hiker and map enthusiast Nigel Reynolds has developed a booklet that includes detailed maps and written instructions for the Prescott Circle Trail.

Courtesy photo<br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->Local hiker and map enthusiast Nigel Reynolds has developed a booklet that includes detailed maps and written instructions for the Prescott Circle Trail.

PRESCOTT - With a lifetime of navigating complicated trail systems behind him, Nigel Reynolds is no stranger to maps.

In fact, he views maps the same way others might view a good novel.

"I've always loved maps," Reynolds said. "I like reading a map as much as I like reading a book."

So it was a natural for Reynolds - a longtime member of the Yavapai Trails Association - to take on the directions for the nearly complete Prescott Circle Trail.

Over the past several months, he has developed a booklet that includes about 10 pages of detailed maps, balanced with about a dozen pages of written instructions.

Reynolds said the idea first came to him this past spring as discussions progressed on the City of Prescott's lease of 6.6 miles of trail easements from the Arizona State Land Department - segments that would nearly complete the 50-mile Circle Trail.

"It struck me that there was no detailed information on the Circle Trail," Reynolds said.

The maps that did exist "weren't detailed, and they weren't easy to use," Reynolds said.

As a volunteer at the Yavapai County GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Department, Reynolds had access to mapping capabilities, and as an avid hiker, he had the local know-how on trails.

"I have hiked the whole Circle Trail," Reynolds said. "The areas that I wasn't so familiar with, I went back and re-hiked them, and I used a GPS."

That attention to detail is apparent in Reynolds' guide, which includes step-by-step instructions for nine different segments of the Circle Trail, ranging in distance from about two miles to six miles.

Along with basic directions, the guide also includes hints for easier use by hikers, bicyclists and equestrians.

Originally from England, Reynolds moved to the U.S. in 1967, when an American company recruited him in his field of electrical engineering. He later moved to the Phoenix area, and retired in the Prescott in the 1990s.

He traces his interest in hiking and mapping back to his childhood in the northern outskirts of London. His father was interested in historic Roman history, and family members spent much of their free time tracing ancient Roman roads.

Prescott Parks and Recreation Director Joe Baynes noted that Reynolds' booklet breaks the 50-mile circle into sections that are doable for hikers.

"From a user's perspective, it's kind of nice," Baynes said. "I like the concept."

Now about one month after the Prescott City Council's approval of a $120,000 expenditure for the final sections of the trail, Baynes is still hopeful that construction will get under way by this winter.

Currently, he said, city staff members are working on the requests for proposals for required archaeological and plant surveys along the new trail routes.

After submitting the results of the surveys to the state, the city would pay its deposit of about $80,000 to the State Land Department (based on a pre-appraisal), and construction could get under way.

The Prescott Circle Trail has been under way since the early 1990s, when members of Yavapai Trails Association came up with the idea for the 50-mile route.

Reynolds' booklets are available for download on the Yavapai Trails Association website (http://yavapai-trails.org/), or in printed form at the Prescott Chamber of Commerce (117 W. Goodwin St.) for $5. Although the download is free, Yavapai Trails is asking for a $5 donation from those who print it.