Landowners play an essential role in keeping trails open.
Lately, we’ve been hearing stories about private property owners and troubles with trespassers. Unfortunately, no trespassing signs only funnel visitors to less desirable individuals. We ought to be proud we such open access to public lands. Because we love to visit historical places. It’s important to know some are on private property, and visitors are not invited.
Private property owners in Arizona are very generous. A majority of landowners are considerate and keep their land open. While exploring Arizona’s backcountry, you will come across privately owned property. In most cases, you won’t even know. Many places that appear to be abandoned are, in fact, privately owned.
Access to vast areas of public lands is sometimes dependent on landowners. Many popular 4×4 trails cross private property. Some of these trails include Crown King, Box Canyon Wickenburg, Tip Top Mine, and several others. These trails are subject to closure without notice, public input, or reason. If access is not respected, a landowner may close the gate and lock it for good.
All the more reason to have Proper Etiquette on private lands too.
Respect granted access to private property or ruin it for all.
Forest Road 711, also known as the back road to Crown King, is a great example. The trail passes through an active, privately owned, patented mining claim. The caretaker of the property continues to receive threats and harassment. The excuse is unreasonable, unjustified, and downright ignorant. The caretaker closed the original trail and rerouted traffic through the river. The trail still travels through the property with no detour. The fate of the Crown King trail relies on the private decision to keep it open.
Imagine if you will. On a busy weekend, 300 to 400 Motorcycles, UTV, ATV, and other 4WD vehicles pass right through your property. Then, more than half of those vehicles come back. Within 12 hours, the caretaker will see an estimated 1.2 off-road cars every minute. I think it’s crucial to prize the stomach this man has for the offroad community.
Without him, the famous Crown King trail would be a dead end. Shake his hand, give him a hug, and bring him a pork loin… He loves pork loin!
When the landowner closes the gate, it stirs up some problems.
The Coke Ovens near Florence has been a popular destination for decades. It’s published in books and several online publications. It’s located on private property, and visitors have always been allowed until recently. Over the past few years, several acts of vandalism have destroyed the ovens. Bricks have been removed, fences are pulled down, signs disappear, and now one oven has collapsed.
The landowner and caretaker have been generous for a long time. To preserve the historic charcoal ovens, visitors are no longer allowed. Over 100 no trespassing signs are posted all over the property. The caretaker receives threats every week. Trespassers arrive nearly every weekend drunk, belligerent, and looking for problems. When asked to leave, some comply, and others refuse.
This should be a lesson learned for everyone. When the landowner has had enough, the experience can be ruined for all. We should be thankful that we have such wide-open public lands. Other states like Texas have absolutely no public land. The disrespect towards property owners is not justifiable when there are hundreds of thousands of square miles to enjoy. We will keep losing more and more access to public lands if the privately owned property is not respected. Respect private land and save the opportunity for the next person.
It all boils down to common courtesy for the next man. If you see a no trespassing sign, just stay out! Trespassing could land you in jail with hefty fines. Making threats could get you shot. Because let’s face it, this is still the wild west. It’s not smart to threaten someone who spends every day of their life surviving the harshest environment in America.